Dog Frisbee – Richard Knerr’s Great Dog Legacy

I read that Richard Knerr died in January this year. Richard was a co-founder of Wham-O, the company responsible for making the Frisbee (as well as the Hula-Hoop).

Wham-O launched the Frisbee in 1958 and Frisbee Dog World Championships have been held every year since 1975 – though there are now several organizations around the world that run annual disc dog tournaments.

The format of disc dog tournaments usually consist of ‘Toss and Fetch’ and ‘Freestyle’ events. In the Toss and Fetch event points are awarded for catches at varying distances and in the Freestyle event short routines choreographed to music, with multiple discs being used, are subjectively judged for things such as canine athleticism, degree of difficulty, and showmanship. Wikipedia has a good page on the sport of Disc Dog and provides more information on Frisbee dog competitions.

The word Frisbee has been replaced by Disc to avoid trademark infringement – so when you see the term Disc Dog it’s the same thing as Frisbee Dog.

Here’s a 5 minute video showing clips from the Alpo Disc Dog Tournament Freestyle Event:

I’ve briefly tried to get Fritz and Zoe interested in Frisbee but I’ve not had much success. For one I can’t throw a Frisbee very well, and secondly, whilst Fritz is interested in chasing after the Frisbee he prefers to shake it to death when he’s caught it rather than bring it back to me. Zoe is the sort of low energy dog who prefers to stand and watch the Disc fly over her head!

Despite these teething problems, I think I shall have another go at getting them interested; Zoe’s sister Jazz is besotted with her fabric Frisbee so there is some hope for Zoe yet.

If you’re interested in teaching your dog how to play Frisbee I’ve read that it can take several weeks to months to teach your dog how to take the disc, so don’t get disheartened if you don’t get immediate results.

Some dogs seem to be more natural at it than others – in many of the videos I have watched the dogs all seem to be Collies or Collie crosses. However, we aren’t all wanting to train world champion disc dogs, so any dog breed should be able to play Frisbee without too much trouble. If you have a dog that has plenty of energy that you need to channel into something constructive then this might be the sport for you (I’ve just realized why so many Collies are involved in the sport).

If you’ve got a puppy, then it’s fine to teach them to chase after and retrieve a Frisbee, but don’t train them to jump and catch the disc until they have physically matured.

Here’s another video in which world class Frisbee dog trainer Zak George shows you some of the freestyle routines he has taught his dogs.

I hope this has inspired you to try a new sport with your dog – if it’s winter where you are and you can’t get out to exercise much, why not get your dog used to the Frisbee in the house and see if he wants to make it his new best toy whilst you are waiting for Spring to arrive.

To find out more about Disc Dog DogPatch has a great page of links to disc dog clubs, events, training, internet groups etc.

Finally, thank you Richard Knerr for bringing us the Frisbee and giving us another way to spend time having fun with our dogs!