First, make sure you choose the right equipment. A dog-safe flying disc should be made of soft material (cloth, rope, rubber or plastic are suitable), and should weigh less than 135 grams. Some great choices you can find at your local pet supply store include the Floppy Flyer, Kong Flyer and Chuckit!® Paraflight. Never use discs designed for human play such as Disc Golf discs or Ultimate Fridbee discs, as these can cause injury to your dog's mouth and teeth.
The most important aspect of starting a new dog on the disc is to build value and "drive" for this fun toy. Make sure you keep your discs put away in a special place or disc bag. Never leave these toys out for your dog to chew or play with on his own. The disc only comes out when you are ready to engage in a game with your dog; this will help to increase your dog's interest and excitement for his special toy!
Begin your training in a quiet, small space, free from any distractions, noises or other dogs. A hallway inside your home is ideal! Use two identical discs to begin your game. The disc in your possession is always the "live" toy, and will be used to encourage your dog to retrieve and to drop. Take the first disc and begin scooting it around on the floor (called a "roller"), moving it toward and away from your dog quickly in an effort to engage his prey drive to chase. In these beginning stages, any interaction with the toy is excellent and should be lavishly praised! If your dog paws at it, play bows toward the disc, mouths it, tugs it — these are all great responses that should be encouraged. Get animated and excited about this fun new toy you are introducing to your dog. The more fun you are having with the disc, the more excited he is likely to become.
To encourage your dog to bring you the disc after grabbing it, move your second disc around. This is now the “live” disc, your dog will want to drop the other one when the new one is moving around. Once your dog is comfortably grabbing rollers as they move along the ground, you can introduce the idea of grabbing the disc while it’s in the air. Do this by holding the disc level with the ground at your dog’s head height. Encourage them to take it from you. Mixing rollers and takes can keep this new game exciting for your dog!
Once your dog is actively chasing the rollers and enjoying a game of tug, get him excited about the disc, and as you move forward with him at your side, hold the disc in your outstretched hand for him to "take." Once your dog is performing these moving takes, you are ready to actually toss the disc. This time, rather than let him take it from your hand, release the disc in a tiny throw - about 1-5 yards in length and never thrown at your dog's face - as he is moving toward it. Hopefully, your dog will reach out and make his first catch! Now you are ready to very slowly add distance to your throws and add increments of just a few yards at a time.
A few final tips:
- Puppies should not be encouraged to jump until they are 18 months of age to avoid damaging their delicate growth plates.
- Keep your training sessions short! Try to end the game while your dog is still excited and engaged before he becomes tired or distracted. You want to always leave him wanting more. This will allow his drive to build.
- When playing disc outside, be sure to choose a safe and suitable space that is free from holes, rocks, debris and other dogs. It should be a place far away from roads and traffic.
- Practice your throwing without the dog. The more accomplished your throwing skills; the more success your dog will have.
- Add distractions slowly. Just because your dog plays well in your hallway does not mean he is ready to play at a busy park. Patience will help build confidence and focus over time.
- Finally, always keep your sessions fun and positive! Flying disc is just another way to build your bond and relationship with your dog, so enjoy your time together!
Purina Pro Plan Performance TeamThe Pro Plan Performance Team, consisting of more than 15 remarkably talented canines, entertains audiences at Purina Farms with extraordinary feats of athleticism and skill. The team, which is made up primarily of rescued dogs, is living proof that with premium, high-quality nutrition, proper expert training and lots of unconditional love any pet has the ability to achieve greatness.
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