Frank Buckland's
Amazing Disc Dogs

A Taste of Training Disc Dogs

The most asked question is “How do you get your dog to do that?" To start, I recommend the book by Skyhoundz, "Disc Dogs! The Complete Guide." They also have a disc dog training DVD where you will see many pros, including myself, demonstrating the tactics necessary to get you started. It's a full, informative, scene-by-scene, easy-to-grasp, instructional video. This type of training goes hand-in-hand with dog fence training, and those materials can be found on sites like quite easily. For now you can read some of my thoughts on this subject for a quick, but not complete start. Depending on what type of dog, age and size, all disc dog training instructions may vary. Let me start out by saying this, I had no idea that I would ever be able to do and accomplish the feats that my dogs and I have performed down through the years. It is a fun sport that gives both you and your dog exercise and bonding. You can take it to the level of serious competition or stay low-keyed and not be bothered by pressure, traveling, time and money, just to mention a few of the things one will encounter in serious competition. To each his own, whatever the choice, the care and welfare of the pet is of the utmost importance. The most effective and intense dogs are generally started early.

Developing puppy interest in the disc can be started at a very early age. The idea is to establish play time and team work as early as possible. Use common sense and be careful, patient and loving, with tons of praise and adoration. It is best to use the softest and smallest disc at first. All you need to create is an interest in the disc, nothing more. You will need a small area no bigger than 10' by 10'. Play time should be short as five minutes and should gradually increase with the puppy’s age. The play should be simple little rolls or sliders, no catches yet, only simple fun stuff. It is good to stop playing when he or she is still rearing to go, always leave them wanting more, sort of a tease so to speak. Be sure not to leave them with the disc. They must learn that the disc is team work play and not to chew on. Don’t use any other types of toys such as balls or rags, stick to the disc and change its size as your dog grows. Remember to think puppy steps, do everything small and gradually increase your training as time allows. Never get too serious and expect too much too soon. Yelling and scolding could possibly ruin the entire plan and take the play right out of your dog.

As you progress your puppy may develop a fanatical obsession with the disc. This is exactly what you want, although there will be times when you just wish he would give it a break. There are essentially two important things extremely necessary to teach dog training. Number one is to teach yourself patience before going to number two. Number two, you will want to teach your dog attentiveness. You will need instruction for this. What this means is your dog should learn to pay strict attention to you, without a lot of constant repeating commands and tugging on the leash. This training should begin when your dog is old enough and big enough to support a training or choke collar that will not harm or endanger him. My preference is the choker chain. Although the name may sound harsh, it is only as harsh as how you use it. It is only used for training and should never be left on your pet when not in your presence. I have lost a dear loving pet due to this ignorance.

You can find a source of info at the library or the net on this important area of leash training. The sit stay is vitally important. The mistake many handlers make in dog training is ignoring the simple sit and stay. As your puppy has progressed into a fanatical love to play with the disc and is big enough to walk properly on a leash, you now want him to learn the sit and stay. I will not give any instruction on this as there are many dog training books that will cover the basic things you should learn before going into more serious disc training.

If you are starting out with an older dog, you still want to keep your training in a small area. There is no guarantee you will succeed, but don’t give up too soon. With older dogs, it requires more patience and time. Truthfully, there is nothing set in concrete of any successful method on disc dog training. Some dogs just get it and others don’t. For the most part they generally get it at least to some extent. There are breeds that excel faster than others. These are usually the working dogs, such as the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Cattle Dog, Small Terrier Types, Labs and Mixed Breeds, just to mention a few. Smaller dogs, weighing in the 30 to 40 lb group, seem to be a favorite of most handlers who seek to compete in the freestyle division. The reason is due to less strain on the human as well as the dog. Vaulting dogs can be injured occasionally from landing incorrectly. This is, in part, the fault of the handler, who sometimes egotistically wants to show off how high his dog can vault. But, there is always the risk of injury in dog sports, it comes with the territory.

There are now lots of different categories in the sport of disc dog. The two most used are distance and accuracy, and freestyle. In distance and accuracy, you as a handler must learn all the techniques to properly toss a disc about zero to forty yards, with your dog retrieving the disc in mid-air catches, and returning it as quick as possible back to you, in a time period of 60 seconds. Freestyle is performed without boundaries and consists of a variety of tricks, vaults, maneuvers of many sorts, and a combination of the handler’s skills, accompanied by his dog that generally makes him look good. If you have taught your dog a variety of tricks at an early age, as you begin your construction of a freestyle routine, you can incorporate theses tricks right into your routine and make them work for the two of you. It is good to be different and unusual. Your dog will help you in this area. Some habits which you may consider bad may work for you. Go with what works for you. I once witnessed a dog that would turn around in three circular motions before catching the disc. His handler couldn’t break him of this, so he put it into his routine anyway. It turned out the audience loved it and so did the judges. The team came away as winners. This article is intended to give you only a taste of disc dog training. To grasp the total package you will have to seek out trainers, dog clubs, videos, etc. If you have established an interest in the disc in your puppy or dog, then you have acquired the first taste. The full meal is soon to come. Good Luck!

For questions I may or may not be able to answer, please contact me . . . Frank Buckland