Do I have another frisbee dog? Yes and no. Yes, because Elsa obviously loves the frisbee. No because I don't want to focus on frisbee as an activity with her. I don't mind if we do a bit of frisbee now and then but frisbee was Tilley's thing and it will remain Tilley's thing. Different dog, different game. I am all about finding what makes each individual dog happy; what sort of activity is their cup of tea.
For Tilley, flying seemed a natural activity; the height that she was able to obtain was pretty spectacular. She was easily capable of leaping 6 feet or more into the air. Yes, she got air alright but with air comes the landing. Landing is a tough one, not all dogs can achieve it successfully without damaging their body. Tilley was amazing at her landing skills as well; she very quickly taught herself how to perform a smooth landing after a death defying leap into the sky to retrieve the frisbee. She also learned to do a back flip, something that most disc dogs Tilley's size cannot do. Most flipping frisbee dogs are smaller. So yes, she was amazing.
As far as Elsa is concerned; I was not anxious to start the frisbee thing with her. Yes she is amazingly athletic but she is taller, longer and not as compact asTilley was. Although she does fly much of her time she does not get a great deal of air which is more than okay with me. Luke was also an amazing frisbee dog but could never land properly so the frisbee's were always kept very low for him. I had pretty much hung up my frisbee after retiring Tilley and hadn't thought about it again until yesterday morning.
We were headed out to the park; Luke, Elsa and I. As I got the dogs into the Xterra I realized that my husband had taken the chuck it with him the day before and I could not locate it. I thought to myself "Elsa is not going to like this." So off to my treasure chest of toss type toys I went and got out a very, very old soft disc. I thought about Tilley while staring at it; was I ready to toss another frisbee? I decided to give it a try, why not? Elsa had only known thrown toys, none that floated in the air. So off we went.
We have a strict routine before getting off leash. Luke is released and takes off; then Elsa must sit, get unhooked and wait until I say "okay," before she charges off. Once released she heads towards Luke and then immediately back to me and circles until I toss. So with her in a very excited mode I threw the disc. It didn't go too far but she did chase it. Once she got there she just looked at it, looked at me like "what the heck is this thing?" and came back empty mouthed. I try to coax her back to get it but she wasn't interested in picking up this thing.
So off across the field I went to retrieve the disc; all the while Elsa was circling me. I threw it again and she again charged off after it but that was it. The next toss she followed the disc to the ground and half picked it up. I cheered like crazy and she looked at me like a light bulb went off. YES, YES, YES I shouted to her and I went and got it again. The fourth toss sealed the deal; she tracked it, and caught the frisbee before it landed. Then returned to me with it in her mouth; did her customary two circles and dropped it at my feet. YES, she got it.
As with Tilley there wasn't much of a learning process. Just throw and within a few tosses they are frisbee dogs. All three, Tilley, Luke and now Elsa have enjoyed the frisbee. We have drawn audiences many times as Luke and Tilley would take turns playing frisbee; but it was Tilley who drew the largest crowds and gasps from the people watching her fly. Both Tilley and Luke were also trained to down beside me while the other dog had a turn; that in itself was impressive with such high drive dogs.
I use to also throw random things for Tilley so that she learned to retrieve whatever I asked her to retrieve. I threw some weird things for her, boots, books, ropes etc. It's all about learning to retrieve something different. So Elsa understood that this was also a game very quickly; it was not her chuck it but this too was fun and something that she could get into and retrieve. That was it, she was hooked and I tossed that thing for the whole time we were at the park. She caught a few but mostly picked them up because of the warp on the disc causing it to take a dive everywhere. But she very quickly knew what we were doing. I will not be doing frisbee as a main sport with her but will every now and again. She is an amazing athlete but the air is not her thing.
If you have a dog that you would like to teach to frisbee there are a few things to help things move along. First start with a soft frisbee. Once a dog gets hit in the face with a hard frisbee it is hard to teach them to reach out and grab it; they tend to duck. Start by making it very exciting and just throw it like a ball on the ground and cheer like crazy if they show interest. You can throw it straight up and see if they go for it. When you want to start tossing it, go out on a windy day and do a short toss against the wind so that it floats. This gives your dog time to try to catch it. If they know what "catch" means then use it was you throw it to them.
Once they start catching it then throw it further and further. Most frisbee dogs are taught to go around the thrower, which Elsa learned months ago. This lets you get the frisbee out ahead of them making it easier for them to catch. I taught Elsa the go around simply by luring her around behind me with a ball. Using my right hand I would lure her around behind and she would come up on my left. Then I quickly tossed the ball out in front so she learned to run out once she got around. I use it all the time and it was great today that she already knew it.
Depending on your dogs physical structure and size should factor in if you do frisbee or not. It also depends on how your dog decides to catch. Like I said Tilley was airborne, she always went very high to grab the disc. This was spectacular to watch but possibly very dangerous. Luckily she figured out how to almost float in midair before coming down for a soft landing. She was beyond amazing but there is a great deal of impact on joints anytime a dog leaves the ground. As most of you know Elsa has been off the ground since the day we got her but she's never really high off the ground like Tilley was.
I truly believe that Elsa will do and excel at anything but seeing her structure and knowing what I do about the different sports I think running is her thing. She most definitely shone today; I was once again impressed by her. She amazes me almost daily with her athletic ability and drive. But I think we'll leave the focus on the sport of frisbee with Tilley and the memories; they are most definitely amazing ones.
Elsa will have her own sport; she's a crossfit kind of gal and still has lots of time. She is after all only a year and a half.
Q&A session starts here. If you have a disc question ask away.