Dog Care 101 Tip #183- Dog Sports: Disc Dog

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! What is that flying through the air!? Why, it’s a dog with a disc in its mouth! continues in the great realm of Dog Sports this week with a look into Disc Dog!

What is Disc Dog?
A game of high intensity fetch with a flying disc. You throw. They catch. That’s the basic concept.  However, the details of this dog sport do get a bit more complicated. This sport is all about teamwork and training. But more on that later!

Why aren’t we saying “Frisbee?” The word “Frisbee” is actually a trademarked word for a specific brand of flying discs. In this Dog Sport the term “disc” is preferred.

The rise of Disc Dog goes hand-in-hand with the rise of flying discs in the early 1970s. However this sport was popularized after a very smart and gutsy college student jumped the fence at a nationally televised baseball game. Alex Stein, then 19, hopped over the outfield fence at a Los Angeles Dodger and Cincinnati Reds game in 1974. He and his dog, Ashley Whippet, immediately dazzled the crowd with their high intensity, fast-moving routine. Some of Ashley’s stunts included 9 foot leaps into the air!  After performing for eight minutes, Stein & Ashley were finally escorted off the field. But it was too late. His exploitation of the national audience paid off and Disc Dog was a new national phenomenon. Stein & Ashley preformed at many high profile venues and events after their publicity stunt including the White House and the Super Bowl.

Ashley Whippet is still a legend in the Disc Dog sport today. He is the standard by which all other competitive Disc Dog’s are measured. Today, at least four continents organize Disc Dog competitions to enjoy this great way to bond with their dogs!

There are two basic types of play. Each is a one dog/one person competition.

Also called Toss and Fetch, Mini-distance, or Throw and Catch; this is a long distance disc throwing competition. The team is working with one disc during play.  The handler throws the disc to the dog at increasingly longer distances. The team has 60 seconds to complete as many catches as possible and is given points based on distance versus catch. Extra points are given for mid air catches and an extra half point for a completely airborne catch.  Many times the handler is restricted to a throwing area and the dog must also be within the confines of a marked area to score.

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This side of disc dog is theatrics paired equally with athleticism. A handler and dog perform a series of complicated tricks with a disc that is a part of an overall routine. Most routines last from 1.5 to 3 minutes and are put to music. There are no mandated tricks, however the team’s goal is to show off the most athletic and difficult stunts possible to show off the teams training and skill level. Stunts include flips, launching off the handlers knee or back, tosses from under the handler’s leg and very quick multi-catches.  These events are judged based on mostly subjective judging such as Canine Athleticism, Degree of Difficulty and Showmanship. And, of course, more technical judging a criterion such as percentage of disc’s caught.

There are many different clubs and competitions that offer Disc Dog activities.  The world championships, of course, are named after the original Disc Dog himself: The Ashley Whippet Invitational.

Check out the 2008 Winner of the Ashley Whippet World Championships! 

Disc Dog is extremely rewarding sport because it fosters very close relationships between a dog and the handler through intense training. This sport is also very inexpensive and simply requires a disc that is comfortable for your dog.

To read about more fun and exciting Dog Sports, check out the BBS spotlights on Flyball, Bikejoring and Agility! Next week the Healthy Dog Blog will talk about Obedience Trials? Is your dog up to the task? Tell us your dog’s favorite sport in the comments section below! 


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