Frisbee dogs are cool. There, I’ve said it.
Watching a dog chase after a frisbee is not only great entertainment, but it also doubles up as an excellent form of exercise. It’s a game of chase and fetch rolled into one — even better!
But more importantly, it’s just a super fun way to bond with your dog.
If you’ve never thrown a frisbee around for your dog, it’s time to dust off the old flying disc. Not sure how to teach a dog to catch a frisbee? This curated guide will help you through it.
How To Teach A Dog To Catch A Frisbee: Getting Started
Two things right off the bat – first, no matter the breed, dogs have the instinct to chase and catch objects, also called the prey drive, and second, the type of frisbee you use matters.
You must’ve already noticed this instinct to chase and catch with tennis balls, squirrels, random bikers, joggers, or cars. It’s just your dog’s inner wolf trying to chase and catch their food – even if it’s already polished off their bowl of kibble or steak. It’s thus important to teach your dog which objects are safe to chase and which are not (random bikers, joggers, and vehicles are definitely not!).
Similarly, not all frisbees are safe for all dogs. There are always considerations in terms of size and material. For example, the Hyperflite Jawz Disk would suit a dog with very strong jaws and teeth, but you will definitely need a frisbee made of lighter material for smaller dogs.
Also, always have two of the same frisbee, especially during training. We’ll explain why a little further down.
Introduce Them To The New Toy
So, if you’re wondering how do I teach my dog to hold a frisbee, the first step is treating it like a toy.
To a dog who is new to a frisbee, it would look like any other random object. So, get your dog to pay attention to it by acting excited when you first show it the frisbee.
Don’t go tossing and throwing the frisbee just yet, though! Instead, let your dog sniff, touch, lick, or grab the new toy.
To encourage these behaviors, be prepared with treats and shower your dog with praises such as “good boy!” or “good girl!” every time it reaches for the frisbee.
Use The Frisbee As A Dish
If your dog still ignores the frisbee, the next step in how to teach a dog to catch a frisbee is to slather on some dog-safe peanut butter around its edges. Or, you could use the frisbee as a dish to feed your dog. Both will get effective results, although the latter will lead to less clean-up.
As Evelyn Ryan, who studied at Nickerson High, shared, “I taught my dog to stay interested in catching frisbees by feeding him in his frisbee only. Never by hand, or on the floor, or in his bowl – just frisbee.”
Play Tug With the Frisbee
The next step is getting your dog accustomed to playing with a frisbee. Do you know what kind of dog catches a frisbee? The kind used to having a frisbee in its mouth since it already considers it a toy.
Start gently playing tug with your dog using the plastic disc. Don’t forget to praise your dog when it grabs, bites, and tugs on the frisbee, and always let them win.
Remember I mentioned having two frisbees? This is where having a spare frisbee comes in handy.
To teach your dog to let go of one frisbee, don’t discourage the behavior by telling it to drop the object. Show it the other frisbee instead. Then, when your dog willingly lets go of the first frisbee to try and grab the other one, praise it.
“Never retrieve the dropped frisbee. Instead, always have at least one or two more. The desire for you to throw one again is more interesting than the one already thrown”, suggests Beasley Andrea Lynne, from Evansville, IN.
Roll The Disc
After your dog has mastered the basics of grabbing and playing tug with the frisbee, you can then move on to teaching it how to chase the frisbee. This is your answer to how do you teach a dog to catch.
The easiest way to go about it is to roll the frisbee like a wheel. This way, you don’t inadvertently scare your dog with a new flying object. You can also do this safely indoors within a smaller space.
So, roll that frisbee on the floor, and watch your dog chase it and try to grab the disc. Henry Yewen attests to this, too – “The first step is letting the dog play with the disc to get used to the feel of it in his mouth. Roll it like a ball and have your dog retrieve it for you. Once the dog has gotten used to retrieving the disc when it is rolled like a ball, you are ready to move to the next level.”
As with all dog training, positive reinforcement through verbal praise for exhibiting the desired behavior works best. Studies show that this might work better than using treats as a reward.
Freeze-dried chicken treats for those dog training sessions
Reward your furry friend with this particularly yum chichen treat whenever they accomplish a training goal. The treats are small in size, and have less than a calorie per treat- making them perfect training treats!
The treats can be stored anywhere.
Things To Remember
Treats and Water are Important
While praises are great, your dog also appreciates getting treats once in a while. So, make sure you have a stash of your dog’s favorite treats and snacks in stock.
Given all the exercise, your dog will need to be sufficiently hydrated. You may need to prompt your dog to drink more water – especially on hot days or when your dog has expended a lot of energy chasing it.
An Open Training Space
Once you’re confident about your dog’s interest in the frisbee and want to move the training outdoors, you will need to find a larger, more open space. At this point in the training, you, too, will be getting some exercise!
A large yard or dog-friendly park sufficiently fenced off or away from vehicle traffic will work best. You and your dog need this space for running around without bumping into other people, objects, or vehicles.
And when you do take your dog out to play with a frisbee, you will soon find that the answer to “do dogs like frisbees?” is a resounding “YES!”
Teach Running and Grabbing
Your dog already knows the basics of grabbing the frisbee, playing tug, and even chasing it down as it rolls on its side like a spare tire.
The next step is to hold the frisbee at your dog’s eye level and run with it while your dog tries to grab it from you.
This will help your dog transition from a small indoor space to a bigger outdoor space while practicing keeping its eyes on the moving object. Your continued participation, positive reinforcements, and treats will make it very rewarding and fun for your dog, thus setting it up for success!
Teach Jumping and Grabbing
Once you’ve both warmed up and worked up a sweat, you can then transition to teaching your dog to catch a frisbee.
Continue playing the running and grabbing game with your dog, and start lifting the frisbee progressively higher than your dog’s eye level.
It will encourage your dog to jump up while running to grab the frisbee. As always, heap lots of praises, provide treats intermittently, and rehydrate the both of you!
Light Throws and Gentle Tosses
After several rounds or even days, depending on your pet’s progress in the jumping and grabbing activity, you can begin gently tossing the frisbee. But this should be done only if you think your dog is up to it.
Gauge your dog’s reaction. Ideally, your dog should be jumping and chasing after the low and slow flying frisbee immediately after your first few throws and tosses.
If not, don’t worry.
Keep working on it. Praise its every effort, and then praise it even more when your dog finally does get it!
Longer and Farther Throws
The natural progression after light throws and gentle tosses is to throw the flying disc a little higher and farther. Send the frisbee on a longer flight path to get your dog to hunt it down.
Needless to say, you will also need an even bigger, more open space where you can safely play frisbee with your dog.
And when your dog succeeds, give it some well-deserved pets and treats!
Ways To Protect Your Dog From Injury When Playing Frisbee
Frisbees are not inherently dangerous, but you do have to exercise more caution. Ensuring you get the right-sized frisbee is crucial to ensuring your pet’s safety. Here are a few more considerations to follow to keep your dog from getting injured when playing with a frisbee:
- While all dogs might enjoy playing with a frisbee, it’s not a good activity for all dogs. Brachycephalic dogs, for example, can get out of breath quickly, so a frisbee may not be ideal for them. Some big dog breeds can injure their joints if they jump too much. Check with your vet whether frisbee will be a good activity for your pup.
- Try warming up through light exercises or activities like a fun game of fetch before you go for long frisbee throws.
- Do not strain your dog when playing. Throw the frisbee at a moderate height where your dog has to exert some effort, but it won’t be too demanding. You do not want your dog doing acrobatics mid-air to reach the frisbee. It will only put a strain on its joints and may cause injury.
- Frisbee is not a chew toy. And since most frisbees are made of plastic, your dog can end up chewing off a piece, which can be a choking hazard. Keep a close eye on your dog, and do not let it chew on the disc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Frisbee Hurt A Dog?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Especially if you play with frisbees designed for humans. These are more rigid and might hurt smaller dogs. Opt for frisbees made especially for dogs. You can get smaller and softer frisbees for a small dog or bigger, more durable frisbees for larger and stronger dogs.
Also, playing frisbee with your young pup could put it at risk of injury. Puppies have fragile bones and joints, and extended running or jumping can harm them.
So, at what age can dogs play frisbee? Wait until your pup is at least 12 months old. This is when its growth plates have closed, and it can handle more strenuous activities.
Can Small Dogs Catch Frisbees?
Absolutely. Just make sure the frisbee is appropriately sized.
Start slow and early by introducing your dog to a frisbee, then playing tug, and then rolling the disc, which should be safe for younger and smaller dogs.
Do Dogs Like Frisbees?
Dogs typically think of frisbees as just another toy. But with training and positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to love playing with frisbees.
Besides, dogs love a good game of chase, and a frisbee can be a great alternative to their favorite tennis ball.
Do Dogs Benefit From Catching Frisbees?
Any exercise can benefit your dog’s health in the long run. Learning to catch a frisbee will also help develop stamina, eye-mouth coordination, and agility. It’s also an excellent outlet for their energy, which will help prevent destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or digging up the couch, carpet, or yard.