Got a ball, stick, treat or Frisbee? No matter the object, dogs love to play catch. Not only is it a fun activity that helps keep both pet parent and pup healthy, but disc-catching can also be a competitive sport.
Certain high-flying canines are better at it than others, possessing an uncanny ability to track down a disc and catch it in the air, sometimes jumping to great heights to do it. Does that sound like something your pooch could or would want to do?
If Fido seems to enjoy it, here is everything you need to know to get involved, including the history of canine disc (also known as disc dog), how it works, and a round-up of the biggest canine disc competitions in the U.S.
How Canine Disc Got Off the Ground
The Frisbee started to rise in popularity during the 1970s and that is when disc dog got its start as well. In 1974, a college student named Alex Stein brought his dog, Ashley Whippet, to a baseball game between the LA Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. The two jumped the fence and proceeded to amaze the crowd with their skills. Stein threw discs for Ashley Whippet while he ran at great speeds and jumped high into the air to catch them. The crowd at the baseball stadium was so amazed that the game actually stopped and Joe Garagiola began announcing the action on the field until Stein was arrested. The entire event was shown on national television and signaled the start of the disc dog craze.
How Disc Dog Competitions Work
In a canine disc competition, teams consisting of one dog and one person compete in various “toss and fetch” events. Each team receives points for their performance and for the distance of the throw. Some disc dog competitions also offer a dynamic freestyle portion in which dogs and their handlers perform short choreographed routines, almost like a dance. Men and women can often compete in the same category and the winner is the one with the longest catch. Sometimes the competition is divided into groups for male and female dogs. In 2012, Robert McLeod and Davy Whippet set a new Guinness World Record for the "Longest Flying Disc Throw Caught by a Dog" when Davy caught the disc Rob threw at 402 feet. Watch their record-breaking catch in this video, then read on to learn about the biggest disc dog tournaments.
Competitions for Disc Dog
There are several organizations which sponsor disc dog tournaments each year, though most take place during the summer. Today, the largest disc dog competitions in the world are:
Skyhoundz – This is an international competition that has several different divisions. Open qualifiers are held throughout the year and the finals are held in Chattanooga, TN.
UFO World Cup Frisbee Dog Series –Beginning in 2000, this competition holds events all over the world. It includes both freestyle and throw/catch competitions and was the first event to allow handlers to use their own discs.
The Quadruped – This competition consists of a long-distance throw and catch event divided into two categories, one for men and one for women. Teams are divided into heats where they compete against each other for a spot in the finals.
US Disc Dog Nationals (USDDN) – Another international competition, the USDDN holds both a Super Open Championship and a Super Pro Championship – the first has both freestyle/throw and catch/freestyle while the second is throw/catch only.
Purina Incredible Dog Challenge – This competition has two parts, a freestyle/throw competition and a catch competition. There are two qualifying rounds held throughout the year with the finals being held at Purina Farms. Take a look at this video of Riley and Mark winning the Eastern Regionals round of the 2014 Purina® Pro Plan® Flying Disc Dog Challenge.
Tips for Entering Competitions
When entering one of the above competitions, it is worth noting that most of them are free, but there are specific height and size requirements for different categories. Make sure to check their websites before just turning up with your pooch.
In addition to these nationwide competitions, you may also be able to find some local disc dog competitions in your area where you can compete against other local dogs and handlers. Do a little research to find a regional or local disc dog club like the Mid-Atlantic Disc Dog Club (MAD-Dogs) or the Indy Dog and Disc Club. If you or your pup are non-competitive, there’s nothing wrong with the two of you simply playing with a disc at the park. Just try to keep him from grabbing other people’s Frisbees!