Monday, February 22, 2010

Disc and flyball dogs?

We've been playing around with a couple of different sports lately, just for something fun to do: disc and flyball. I'm a complete newbie to both sports. I started to teach Mika the basics of flyball when she was a young dog, but I ended up concentrating my efforts on agility. (She did get to race over lines of flyball jumps at the SuperDogs show in October. She didn't show any hesitation with the flyball jumps.) Flyball is a new one to Wall-e, but he's been playing with discs ever since he was ten months old (no catches). I've always had lots of fun with Mika, who can take huge flying leaps into the air to catch a disc or toy from my hand, but I never was able to train her to catch a thrown disc in the air. Wall-e's tried to do that one time when the thrown disc was blown up into the air by the wind, but he just missed it and hasn't tried it again.

We won't be competing in either sport simply because we don't really have the time. Agility takes up a lot of time from April to October, so much that Wall-e will only be able to work sheep again a couple times this year. Agility is definitely our main sport.

That doesn't mean that we can't have fun playing other sports, though! Mika and Wall-e have been learning swimmers turns on a piece of carpet placed over a wide plank. (I don't actually have a flyball box.) Mika needs to have the plank flat on the ground because she doesn't quite understand what she's supposed to do with the plank raised (she tries to do 2on2off, hahaha!). Wall-e does great with the plank raised at about a 45 degree angle. I'm using a 6" jump in front of the plank for both of them.

I've been reading lots of disc articles from DogSport magazine, but I still can't seem to get either dog to catch a thrown disc. Both dogs can catch the disc if I'm holding it while running (so it's moving in the air), and Wall-e can easily catch a roller (a disc rolling on its side along the ground). With Mika I'm concentrating my efforts on building drive for the disc; she really likes discs, but she doesn't have the maniacal obsession for them as she does with tugs. She seriously looks like a mad (as in crazy) dog while tugging, and I'm trying to transfer that drive to discs.

Any ideas for training Wall-e how to catch a thrown disc in mid-air?


  1. With Marron I started with soft stuffed toys when she was a pup. I got her catching them standing in front of me, then got it so she was sitting on my left (I throw right handed) as I tossed it up in front of her. There's a big difference between catching something thrown towards them and something that is traveling away from them. The soft, stuffed toys had a bit more "lift" and hovered a bit more than a frisbee when tossed this way, and were softer on her poor nose if she "missed". I started squatting down low, close to her level, tossing the toy just barely in front of her nose, then progressed to standing up and tossing it oh, 5-10 feet in front of her. It was a short jump (and a few months of physical maturity) before she was generalizing this to a short 15-20 foot frisbee throw. When you start throwing the frisbee, always try to have the dog facing the same way you are and on the opposite side from the hand you are throwing the disc with. This gives them the best view of the disc as it leaves your hand. As you progress, teach him to circle around behind you as you throw so he gets a running start for longer throws. Good luck! Disc dog does get addicting, just like agility does!

  2. No big ideas....LOL, but what lucky dogs to get to do a lot of things!

  3. No ideas from me either - but fun to hear about your disc and flyball training! I had to laugh when I read your post -- In between weekly flyball classes, Lucy practiced learning her turn at home using -- yes, a carpet-covered plank leaning against the wall :)

  4. Flyball sounds really interesting, and I did consider putting Marge into a class. But, I think she's too reactive for it. Either way, it might be something fun to train in our spare time, just like you're doing!

  5. Try throwing the disc from a sitting position, and try to use a harder disc (but of course the kind made for dogs!) that will have better "loft and hang" than the boomerang one you are using. If you throw it from a sit the disc stays low and out in front. Sounds to me like WallE is trying to jump and catch and that is difficult on a young dog. If you keep the disc low and straight, he can run and catch without jumping (which is safer for a young dog anyway). You can also use two discs (get your Jawz soon!) and "ping pong" back and forth with takes and then little tiny throws with lots of spin so they hang an extra second. Hopefully that makes sense?