FAQ

Club Related Questions

Equipment

Getting Started

Advanced Training Issues

Canine Frisbee Strategy Issues

Club Related Answers

What is the purpose of the club and what are its goals?
The Dallas Dog & Disc Club seeks to promote interest in and perpetuate the existence of the sport of canine Frisbee and to provide entertainment and educational demonstrations to charitable organizations in the metropolitan Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Club exists for the pleasure and benefit of its human and canine members, and this is accomplished primarily through the medium of "Playdays"—informal monthly meetings designed for training, exhibiting, and friendly socializing. The club strives to advance the sport of canine Frisbee and to foster awareness of responsible pet ownership. This is done through a constant effort to balance competitive goals with works of charity.
How do I join and what are the benefits of membership?
You will automatically be entered on the Dallas Dog & Disc E-Groups list. This a mailing list that makes it easy to ask questions and make comments to the entire club. Your membership also means you have the opportunity to have a voice in the organization and direction of the club when you attend the annual business meeting and vote on motions put before members. And only members can serve as officers of the Club. Membership dues are $20 per year and are the same regardless of whether you join as a family or as an individual. And yes, we do have several members who do not live in the Dallas area, so don't let a minor detail like geography stop you from joining. For more information concerning membership, or to join the club please send an email to: Membership@DallasDognDisc.com.
How did the Club start?
This first ever Dog & Disc Club had its beginning when Ron & Cyndy Ellis of Dallas mailed a newsletter to several local Frisbee dog enthusiasts calling an informal "Playday" for the purpose of sharing their favorite pastime with others. That first meeting in August of 1986 gave birth to the Dallas Dog & Disc Club. People Ron and Cyndy met at local contests formed the nucleus for the Club which eventually became a seedbed for world class competitors. The Dallas Dog & Disc Club has a Two Time World Champion, Bob Evans & Luke ('98) and Luke's son Nick ('00). We also have several club members that are Regional and World Finalists.
When is your next event?
Please go to our Calendar page to check out our schedule.
Where do you normally meet?
Playdays are normally held in North Dallas Area. We try to change up our Playday locations to cover as much of the North Dallas area as possible. Take a look at the Events page to see when we will be holding an event in your area.
Is there a club in my area?
We get this question a lot and the best we can do is point you in the right direction. Check out our links page. We have a good list of Clubs.

Equipment Answers

Is there a special type of Frisbee used in the sport?
Yes, there is a particular type of Frisbee used in competitions. It's called the Fastback. It's a 107 gram disc made of somewhat softer plastic than that you'd find in a promotional disc. Of course softer means chewable to some dogs :-) Skyhoundz has came out with their own type of disc, that resembles a Fastback, to be used in their competitions. It is called the Hyperflite K-10. Local dog & disc clubs around the country vary in their regulations concerning Frisbee types. Please check with your local club concerning its requirements.
How much do Frisbees cost and from whom can I order some?
Fastbacks cost anywhere from $1 to $3 a piece. You can contact Skyhoundz to order Hyperflite K-10 Frisbees, or you can contact Discovering the World to order Fastback competition Frisbees as well as Frisbees with cosmetic defects which are less expensive (as low as $1 a piece depending on how many you order).
When are Frisbees too damaged to play with? How long do they last?
People have varying opinions about this first question. A Frisbee with a chip in the rim can cause bleeding in the dog's mouth, therefore, some people stop using discs at that point. Others will take the time to sand the chips down so they're not so damaging. And still others will continue to use damaged Frisbees till the rim actually breaks. How long Frisbees last is determined by the dog's destructiveness and among the dogs in our club, there is a wide range of Frisbee destructiveness. That is, some dogs are very gentle on their discs while others tear theirs up in one practice session.
How many Frisbees do you use in a year?
This will vary. (See previous question) Some don't have to buy Frisbees but once a year while others buy hundreds a year (obviously, this gets expensive). If your dog goes through a bunch of Frisbees and you find yourself spending way too much money on them, you might try repairing damaged discs (e.g. sanding the chips in the ridges so that the rims are smooth again) so their playing lives can be extended. Or, if your dog is extremely destructive and you find yourself going through hundreds of discs a year, you might try what some of our members do. They get used discs from other members. These discs are usually fairly damaged (e.g. numerous holes in the top, chips in the rim, etc.), but the rim isn't broken yet and they still fly.

Getting Started

I'm thinking about getting into the sport, what kind of dog should I get? What breed is best?
If you don't have a dog yet and want a Frisbee dog, the most reliable way to find one is to visit your local shelter or humane society. Why? Because with these dogs you can actually gauge the dog's interest in Frisbee. Almost all shelters will allow you to take the dog out into a grassy area and see how the dog responds to you—and a Frisbee. If on the other hand, you get your dog when he or she is 8 weeks old, you take a bigger gamble regarding the dog's potential Frisbee prowess. Some of the best Frisbee dogs in the world have been dogs rescued from shelters and dogs of unknown parentage (mixes). As far as specific breeds, you'll find that the top dogs in the sport are generally Mixes, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds but there are certainly exceptions. Again, although generally these breeds do well, other breeds can excel. In our club, we even had a 85 lb. German Shepherd that is quite exceptional.
How can I get my dog interested in the Frisbee?
The following is an excerpt from Chuck Middleton's article "How do I get my dog to play Frisbee ?" in our February, 1997 Newsletter: Behavior chains are taught in reverse order. Using Boss as an example, I'll briefly explain how he learned to chase, catch and retrieve, in reverse order and independently of each other, before we ever combined them together for a game of 'throw and catch' with a Frisbee disc.
The first link: At six weeks of age Boss was encouraged to play with an old sock. While he played, he was encouraged to come to me with the sock. Generally, these initial attempts at retrieving covered only two or three feet–a distance where a little physical encouragement from me was possible, if needed, and he was praised like crazy. We tried it again and again, always for only a couple of minutes at a time, always over short distances where success could be controlled, and always with insane levels of praise. I knew (was hoping) that some day the Frisbee would become its own reward, but when it comes to teaching your dog (old or young), something new, lots of praise is a must. If your dog learns what praise is at an early age, he will be easier to train using that same praise as he gets older. Soon, little Boss would cross the room with that sock and the praise continued.
The second link: I tied that same old sock to a rope and dragged it around and around the house constantly encouraging Boss to "get it". It was important that Boss was allowed catch up to and grab the sock. As he progressed, Boss was praised not only while chasing, but also for grabbing the sock. Soon, he was chasing without fail; when the sock was removed from the rope, slid across the room and retrieved, we had two links in the chain complete.
The final link: Learning to catch is extremely difficult for a puppy. When Boss was between 10 and 14 weeks of age I fed him literally hundreds of pieces of dog food–one piece at a time. When his attention was focused on the food it would be tossed up and in front of his face and he would be given the command "catch". In short order attempts at catching were being made and as eye/mouth coordination increased catches became routine. Training to catch food was interspersed with work trying to catch a bounced tennis ball. A bounced tennis ball offered Boss a larger "catch" target with a longer range of travel and the ability to try and catch on the second or even third bounce. During our "catch" training, our chase & retrieve training continued with Boss' sock being replaced with a Frisbee rolled on its side. By fourteen weeks of age Boss could chase, retrieve and catch somewhat consistently, and by 15 weeks he finally chased, caught and retrieved his first flying disc.
My dog will catch the Frisbee, but won't bring it back. How can I change this?
The following is an article entitled "Back to the Basics" by Christi Goodman first published in our September 1997 Newsletter that should help answer this question:
To teach a dog to "bring" something, start out on a long line. I use a 20 foot training lead, not a flexi (the flexi puts pressure on the dog as he runs out to get the object). The line is to help guide the dog and to keep him from leaving the training area, it is NOT a magic wand. I separate the fetch command into two behaviors, the go-and-get-it part, and the bring-it-back part. The commands I use are "Go", "Get it", and "Take it," depending on the circumstances, and "Bring" and "Drop." Today, all I am talking about is "Bring."
There are several methods of introducing the bring command, depending on the type of dog you are training. Is your dog a "hard" dog? Can you give him a correction (physical or verbal) and he doesn't even notice? Or is your dog "soft"? Does he cower at the slightest disapproving glance? Dogs fall somewhere on the hard-to-soft spectrum, and your training methods must reflect the dog's personality. I recommend starting the training with something other than a Frisbee, as you want the dog to always associate Frisbee with positive things. Since you may have to make slight corrections when teaching the bring command, teach it with a ball or favorite toy, and switch to the Frisbee once the dog understands the command.
Once your dog has the object in his mouth, you can do one of several things. If your dog is fairly soft, you can try calling him and running away from him. Some dogs will chase you, and it is a simple matter of turning around when the dog is in reach and praising and petting, saying "Good bring!!." Remember, "Drop" is a separate command, so do not take the object from the dog, let him hold it while you praise, praise, praise for bringing!! Once the dog is following you reliably as you run away, add the Bring command at the beginning. The sequence is: "Spot, Bring"—turn and run—turn and praise.
If you are blessed with one of those dogs (as I am) who couldn't care less that you are running away from him, the process is a little different. When the dog has the object in his mouth, call his name and say "Bring", pick up the end of the long line and give a little tug, then run backwards as you clap your hands and verbally encourage the dog toward you. If the dog comes part way, but loses interest or stops, reach down and give the long line a firm pull, continue to run backwards and encourage. Try to avoid reeling the dog in like a fish, he needs to learn to come to you under his own power. The sequence is: "Spot, Bring"—tug line—run backwards while encouraging dog—correct if necessary—praise, praise, praise when he gets to you.
It is important, whichever method you try (and these are just two of many) to only say the command ONE time. You need to train the dog from the beginning to respond to the first command, and the only way he will understand that is if you only give one command. If he needs further encouragement to come toward you, you can repeat his name, say "hurry" or "faster" or anything else that helps get him to you. If your dog already knows the "Come" command, this behavior will be easier to teach because it is familiar. Don't confuse the two commands, however, they are different. "Bring" involves an object, and "come" does not.
More basic training tips: Keep it happy!! If you are losing patience, STOP the lesson. Always try to end a lesson on a positive note, if your dog does it right, STOP the lesson. Continuing to train a behavior after the dog offers you a correct response confuses the dog. If he gets it right the first time, STOP and do something else for awhile. In general, short sessions are better than long ones. Good luck, and happy training!!
Christi Goodman and Canine Consultants, Wally & Rider
How can I maintain my dog's interest in the Frisbee?
Bob Evans (1998 & 2000 World Champion) — Show lots of praise for the dog. Also show your own enjoyment for the sport. Always stop practice while the dog still wants to play. Don't just keep on practicing until the dog gets bored with the sport. Keep the dog "wanting."
Chuck Middleton (2 time World Finalist, 12 time Regional Finalist) -- A dog's attention generally slips when he gets physically or mentally tired. Try shortening your practice sessions (stop BEFORE your dog starts losing interest). Your goal should be to make Frisbee fun for your dog. Try doing more of what your dog likes to do most. This might be short throws, long throws, rollers, etc. and don't neglect the praise.

Advanced Training Issues Answers

What are the official Skyhoundz rules?
To find a complete reprint of the official rules and a helpful mini-distance diagram, check out the Skyhoundz web page.
What are some tips to help me improve my Frisbee throwing ability?
Practice, practice, practice. But to help you practice the right things, check out this site designed for Frisbee Freestylers (Frisbee without dogs, that is).
My dog is 18 months old now and ready to start vaulting. How do I start training?
Start with teaching a leg vault. Begin by sitting on the ground (or floor) and have your dog do takes above your thighs. Encourage your dog to use your leg as a platform to grab the Frisbee. Once your dog is used to jumping off your leg when it's on the ground to grab the Frisbee, position yourself in a kneeling position with one knee on the ground and one thigh extended. Now hold the Frisbee out over your extended leg and command your dog to take. Now you can start tapping your leg (where the dog vaults off of you) while you give the take command. Once your dog becomes proficient at vaulting off your leg and grabbing the Frisbee from your hand, you can start making small tosses. Be sure to always tap your leg with the Frisbee before your dog vaults. He'll associate the motion with vaulting and you can begin to tap other parts of your body that you want your dog to vault from.
How can I avoid injuries to my dog?
The following is a portion of Bob Evans' answer to a training schedule question in our May, 1997 Newsletter.
Warm up yourself and your dog before a workout. Do not feed your dog for 3 hours before workout or until a minimum of 1 hour after workout. Be careful of your dog drinking too much water. Watch out for the heat and your dog becoming overheated. Gradually strengthen your little athlete as opposed to trying to win an endurance marathon all at one time.
My dog is crazy for the Frisbee and won't drink water when we practice. How can I cool him off?
Many dogs are so intense about Frisbee they refuse to drink. This is a fairly common problem. I've never found a way to MAKE a dog drink. However, you can cool your dog down by pouring cool (not cold) water over his/her belly.

Canine Frisbee Strategy Issues Answers

Are the number of throws in a routine important?
When putting together a Freestyle routine, how critical is the number of throws? For example, if you throw 18 Frisbees and your dog catches 15 of them vs. getting off 25-30 throws and let's assume your dog catches 22 of them. I understand that the throw catch ratio needs to be high but how critical is the total number of throws?
BobI believe a 90 second routine should produce at least 18 to 20 throws on the average. Some competitors may develop a routine consisting of a number of short rapid throws that, of course, will produce a higher or sometimes a much higher number of throws. The key is to develop a routine with which a competitor feels comfortable. Remember, however, that a routine must have a reasonable number of difficult throws to compete at a "world class" level.
ChuckWhen putting together a routine I'm generally looking for 17-20 throws in 90 seconds, but this is based on Boss and what we do best. You might have more or less. The number of throws really depends on the type of throws you and your dog perform best. I would focus on incorporating enough throws to keep your routine moving, while trying to ensure a high completion percentage.
RonThe idea is to provide a good consistent flow of tricks throughout the routine regardless of the actual number of throws. You should be careful, though, not to appear hurried by too many attempted tricks, and, conversely, you should not have void spaces or lag time caused by too few. Also, remember that the "piling up" of short, easy throws in an effort to improve your catch-to-throw ratio will not help your execution score.
How important are the different kinds of throws in a routine?
How much emphasis is really put on the thrower when it comes to Freestyle? How important is it to have a variety of throws (upside down, behind the back, etc vs. just flat throws? Is most of the showmanship category put on the thrower of the team and not the dog.
BobThe key to developing a extraordinary Freestyle routine is to use a variety of throws which will showcase your dog by allowing your dog to demonstrate his or her best features while making the performance entertaining for the spectators. I believe most of the showmanship burden is put on the dog BUT, the thrower must know what the dog is capable of and then deliver throws that will demonstrate how well the thrower and dog work as a team.
ChuckThis is a TEAM sport. A good thrower can sometimes compensate for an average dog and likewise a good dog can sometimes compensate for an average thrower. Just keep in mind that your showmanship score and the score of each of the other three categories, is the result of a team effort. By adding a variety of throws that you and your dog can successfully complete, you will directly impact all four categories. Judging is complex and you owe it to yourself to spend some time not just reading, but learning the different facets of Presentation, Wow!Factor, Athletictism, and Success as outlined in the Skyhoundz Guidelines.
RonIn ALL judging criteria the dog is expected to simply respond to what the thrower initiates. Regardless of how the dog responds, the thrower is ultimately responsible for how well the team performs. The thrower is called upon to execute in a creative, skillful and entertaining fashion with variety and confidence while the dog should "finish" with grace, style, athleticism and consistency. A well-trained dog will have meshed with his owner and together they make an effective team
Is vaulting necessary?
Is Vaulting necessary to achieve a high Difficulty score?
BobNo, some competitors have attained quite high scores without doing any vaults.
ChuckAbsolutely not! Locally, you can look at Christi Goodman and Wally. Nationally, Jeff Perry and Gilbert won their world championship with no vaults. Your goal should be to develop a challenging and entertaining routine that you can perform with a high degree of consistency.
RonVaulting is not necessary to achieve any score. While spectacular and crowd-pleasing, the judges technically regard it as just another trick. Let's not place vaulting on a training pedestal.
Is a pre-routine necessary?
How Important is the pre-routine in Freestyle? Does it effect your Presentation score or is it just a crowd pleaser?
BobPre-routine does not count for Presentation. However, pre-routine may contribute to your getting the crowd's attention and support to a higher level and you, the dog and the crowd may "feed" off of each other will should allow you to produce a higher Presentation score.
ChuckI have never used an elaborate pre-routine, I've felt my practice time could be better spent in other areas. A pre-routine, good or bad, can set the tone for the rest of your routine, but should not impact your overall score. If you choose to use a pre-routine, practice and memorize it the same way you would the rest of your routine so that you and your dog both know what each other is going to do.
RonA pre-routine is, for the most part, for crowd enjoyment and will not influence the judging. However, a good pre-routine can set a positive tone for your scored performance. Beware, though, that a pre-routine of more than 30 or 40 seconds or one that precedes a missed first throw may set a negative tone. Proceed with caution.
What are the judges REALLY looking for?
Judging in this sport is very subjective. Other than experience and documented guidelines, how can one become more aware of the subtleties to the art of judging and being judged? Please explain how you specifically judge the four categories: Presentation, Athleticism, Wow! Factor, and Success.
BobAll categories are interrelated with Wow!Factor, Presentation, and Success being the most interrelated. Each competition is judged by comparing the performance that would reasonably be expected for a particular breed and/or size of dog and by comparing the performance of the competitors in that particular competition. For example, windy or windy with gusts, raining or wet, poor field conditions, etc. are considered in determining scores. Assume thrower "A" makes 20 simple backhand throws with 20 catches and thrower "B" makes 20 difficult throws with a wide variety of spins, releases, angles, etc. with only 15 catches. Thrower "B" would probably receive a higher Success score as well as a higher score in the other categories.
ChuckSubjective is the key word here. Having competed for the past 10 years and having judged numerous events, I still do not feel comfortable with my ability to judge, or my ability to put together a routine that will be scored highly by regional judges. The very best way to learn the subtleties involved in judging Freestyle is to volunteer to judge. We are in a unique situation in the Dallas Dog & Disc Club in that we have several Fun Matches each year and these are perfect opportunities to get some hands-on experience as a judge. If you anticipate competing as a regional finalist, you owe it to yourself (and your dog) to volunteer as a judge (your help will be welcomed). Until you've judged, words can't properly explain how difficult judging can be and how intertwined each category is with the next. There are times when I'm disappointed in my score and times that I may not agree with the score I received, but since I've experienced judging first hand, you will never hear me criticize the judges or their efforts.
How should I prepare myself and my dog for a Regional format?
How much do you train and how long do you spend at each session? Describe a normal training session. I.e.. How much time spent on Distance-Accuracy vs. Freestyle?
BobIn preparing for a Regional competition I usually do a workout every day to every other day for a total of about 1 hour. I begin with about 5 to 15 minutes of throwing. Part of the throwing is practicing various Freestyle throws with the balance concentrating on Distance-Accuracy throws. Total number of throws will typically be about 50 to 100. I then usually begin with a 90 second Freestyle workout followed immediately with one to two more of the same. I then allow the dog to get a drink of water while I select a good set of discs. After about a 2 to 3 minute rest, I usually do another 90 second routine or two. After allowing the dog to get a drink and rest for 3 to 5 minutes, I then do 2 to 3 minutes of Distance-Accuracy practice. After a rest of 5 to 10 minutes we may do another 90 second Freestyle followed by another 60 second to 90 second Distance-Accuracy. Don't try to over do what you and/or your dog are capable of doing.
SPECIAL NOTES:Warm up yourself and your dog before a workout. Do not feed your dog for 3 hours before workout or until a minimum of 1 hour after workout. Be careful of your dog drinking too much water. Watch out for the heat and your dog becoming overheated. Gradually strengthen your "little athlete as opposed of trying to win an endurance marathon all at one time.

ChuckSerious workouts in preparation for a Regional Competition began in mid-April. At Boss' age and level of development, we rarely workout two days in a row. If I were preparing FlyGirl for the regional, we would be training 5-6 days a week, and our time at the park would be much different consisting of much more casual fun aimed at trying to develop new tricks and throws and a set 90 second routine. Boss' workouts are generally 30-40 minutes long (including rest periods). My routine is split into 4 sections, and we will generally work on only one or two sections per workout with additional work on individual throws and catches that lack consistency. There are days when our entire practice may consist of nothing more than Distance-Accuracy. Two weeks prior to a Regional Competition, I will start practicing the entire routine, check it against the stop watch, and work on disc management. Regarding Distance-Accuracy, do not neglect this part of your training. If your dogs are like mine, this is what they enjoy most, plus there are great benefits – it's great conditioning, and with regular practice you will dramatically improve your throwing ability and your dog's eye/mouth coordination.
RonMy training regimen depends on the magnitude of the event for which I'm preparing. On average I train 3 or 4 days a week, about an hour each session. During that hour I'll run my dog through a couple of Freestyle rounds and a couple of Distance-Accuracy rounds. I rest and water my dog for about 5 to 10 minutes between each round. I'll sometimes spend a few minutes here and there working on new tricks. I always reserve 10 or 15 minutes to practice throwing without the dog. On days I don't practice with my dog I still practice by myself. I also try to never play with my dog the day before an event.