Teaching your dog a new trick is a great way to bond with your pup and keep them mentally engaged. Frisbee is a perfect choice for dogs who love to run, catch, and retrieve.
We are going to help give you the simple steps to teach your dog to catch a frisbee. We will also give you some points, tips, and advice, and a few frisbee recommendations.
Spoiler Alert: The Chuckit! Paraflight Frisbee is our favorite!
A Few Preliminary Things to Consider
Before jumping into the below section, we want to offer some information that may be helpful before you get going. First, make sure your dog is healthy enough for frisbee play.
It’s okay to start your puppy off learning how to hold and fetch a frisbee, but it’s not recommended that you build them up to jumping until they’ve grown into their big kid legs. Puppies can be prone to injury while their bodies are still growing, so be mindful of their behavior and keep things slow and easy.
Hip dysplasia is also a notorious issue, especially with large dogs. If your dog is already showing signs of hip dysplasia, then chasing, catching, or jumping for a frisbee may be painful for them.
If you think there’s a possibility that your dog might have hip issues, then take them for a vet visit. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
We also recommend getting them comfortable with basic commands before teaching them any complicated tricks. They’ll catch on much faster and be more likely to follow safety commands when necessary.
Getting Started: What You’ll Need
Throwing a frisbee is pretty simple, but before you start trying to throw one to your dog, there are a few things you’ll need.
Most Important Tool: The Frisbee
First of all, you’ll want to have picked out a frisbee. This is a good one to start with since it’s soft. We will provide more frisbee recommendations in a later section, to help you make the right purchase.
Depending on the size of your dog and their toy preference, you may need a certain kind of frisbee. There are soft frisbees, which are great for dogs brand new to the frisbee game, as well as rubber and hard plastic frisbees.
You’ll also want to consider what frisbee is the right size for your dog and your dog’s mouth. You’ll want a frisbee that’s easy to catch, won’t scratch or hurt their gums, and isn’t obnoxiously large.
Most dogs react well to treats. Your dog may be more inclined to accept excessive play and praise rather than treats, but treats are always a great place to start when teaching a new trick.
We recommend choosing a small treat (these work great!) that your dog can easily eat without taking up a ton of time. Furthermore, some dogs can get overly excited during playtime sessions, so you’ll want to use treats that aren’t a choking hazard, especially if your dog isn’t a fan of slowing down.
Location, Location, Location!
Though you can teach a dog a new trick almost anywhere, we recommend choosing a big open location with few distractions. Once your dog gets the hang of chasing the frisbee, they’ll really love having a big area to run.
Having a really big space may not be necessary when you first introduce your dog to the frisbee. However, we definitely recommend practicing this new trick in a location with no distractions, though that isn’t always easy.
A dog park or a big fenced in backyard are great places to teach your dog a new trick. If you choose a dog park, look for a place in the park where there aren’t a lot of other dogs or people.
Another dog may decide to swoop in and steal your toy or your dog might decide it would rather play with the park strangers instead of you.
Stay Calm and Collected
Despite being the last item in this section, it is arguably the most important. Patience is key when working on any trick with your pup.
Dogs can be finicky and they mean well, even when they aren’t immediately catching on or showing interest. Keep in mind that this is a completely new realm for your dog and they’re trusting you to guide them through the process.
Though it’s easy to do, don’t let your frustrations take over. We deal with a lot of stress throughout our day, whether it be from our jobs, school, or our children. Life is tough!
Don’t let your training suffer because you’ve had a difficult day. Try to make the experience fun and use the time to let yourself mentally relax. Keep it simple and keep it positive. You don’t want to unintentionally make your dog associate bad with fun!
Introducing Your Dog To The Frisbee
Set your dog up on a one-on-one date with the frisbee. Your dog needs to feel comfortable with it and not run out of fear when it’s tossed in their direction.
We recommend taking the time to introduce your dog to any new toy, item, or pet before stepping into the deep end. Though dogs generally chase and retrieve by instinct alone, a frisbee can be a weird looking item to a dog who has never seen one before.
Before throwing it across the yard or in your dog’s direction, offer it to your dog so they can sniff it and hold it in their mouth. Once your dog has figured out that it’s something to carry, roll it around on the ground and see if your pup takes to chasing it.
You may then start lightly tossing it, but only a few feet away, so your dog doesn’t become alarmed by it hitting the ground or flying in the air. We recommend consistently stating a command while you do this, such as “catch” or another phrase your dog recognizes to mean retrieve.
Remember to praise them when they pick up the frisbee and return it. Be obnoxious about it! Give them a treat or three and tell them how proud you are.
When they bring the frisbee back, you might also try playing tug-of-war or letting them jump up to try and grab it from your hand. The more excited you can make this game, the more eager they will be to learn how to do it right.
Now that your dog and the frisbee are well acquainted, let’s start getting into how exactly to teach your dog to catch the frisbee disc.
Some of these you should have already gone over during your introduction phase, but we are going to include them below since the initial introduction steps are the most important steps in the entire process.
1. Introduce your pup to the frisbee.
Let them chew on it, hold it in their mouth, chase it around while you roll it or hold it out of reach, and offer plenty of praise. If your dog is a treat lover, give them one or two treats each time they successfully complete a task. Be enthusiastic about it.
2. Start gently tossing the frisbee a few feet away.
Praise and reward your pup when they retrieve the frisbee and bring it to you. Reinforce this several times until you feel confident that your dog has grasped the foundation for fetching the frisbee.
3. Start throwing the frisbee further distances.
Try to keep it close to the ground. Your dog may not be ready to jump for it, so keep it low so they can catch it easily.
4. Praise, Praise, Praise!
Again, continue to praise and reward your dog each time they catch and return the frisbee to you. Depending on your dog’s personality, you may continue playing tug-of-war or some other game to keep your dog excited and interested.
5. Continue reinforcing these steps.
Throw the frisbee further and higher into the air every other time you toss it.
After doing this several times, your dog will likely start naturally jumping to catch the frisbee. Give them excessive praise once they successfully catch the frisbee while in the air.
This is just a simple list of instructions and you may tailor these to fit your dog and their habits. Once your dog has really gotten the hang of catching the frisbee, especially while jumping, then you can start building up to more complicated tasks.
This can include things such as teaching them to jump off your knee or back in order to catch the frisbee.
5 Frisbee Discs We Recommend
Depending on your dog’s size and toy preference, we recommend taking a little bit of time to think about what frisbee is right for your dog before making a purchase.
We want to make that the easiest part of this process, so we’ve included some of our favorites for you so you won’t have to do any excess shopping around.
I’m a huge fan of Chuckit! products because they’re practically indestructible and easily affordable. The Chuckit! Paraflight Frisbee is no exception.
It can be purchased in two colors, blue and green. If you’re into some nighttime playtime, then you may want to choose the green option, since it glows in the dark.
It’s available in two sizes as well as a multi-pack. It’s designed to fly for long distances and floats easily in the water. It’s made of multilayer nylon for durability and softness, so you won’t need to worry about gum injuries.
If you’re as big a fan as I am of Chuckit!, then you’ll definitely want to add this product to your toy arsenal.
The West Paw Design Zogoflex Zisc Frisbee is a great frisbee for dogs who love the rubber feel of a ball. It’s available in two sizes: Small or Large, so you’ll be able to choose the one that best fits your dog or puppy’s size.
It’s made with safe non-toxic BPA and Phthalate-free materials and is FDA approved. One of my favorite points is that its dishwasher safe.
If your dog has sensitive gums or you’re worried about causing injury to their mouth, then this is a great option. It flies just as well as a hard plastic frisbee and will be less prone to wear and tear.
If your dog likes water, then you’ll love that it floats like a duck and comes in several bright easy to see colors.
The Dogobie Disc by Aerobie is a great choice for dogs who tend to be a little destructive. It’s crafted with puncture and tear-resistant materials and is light and aerodynamic.
It comes with three dogobie discs and can be purchased in two bright colors. The materials are soft but sturdy enough for easy flying.
It’s created for long flights and floats in water. It’s available in an 8-inch diameter size, so it’s ideal for adult dogs and large dog breeds.
Honestly, I think this toy has the best dog toy name on the market. I just like saying it. The Hyper Pet Flippy Flopper Frisbee is soft, well designed, and great for outdoor play, whether you’re on land or in water.
It’s inexpensive and light, so it’ll keep on flying and last through all the fun and games. You can take it to the beach, the park, or throw it in the snow and it’ll take it with ease. It’s great for adult dogs and large pups since it has a large 9-inch design.
It’s made of multilayer nylon for durability and comfort, so no bloody gums or wear on teeth.
Kong has a great reputation for making high-quality durable dog toys. I’ve personally owned one of these frisbees, and my dog absolutely loved chasing after it at the dog park and retrieving it.
It is durably crafted and can fly for exceptionally long distances. The rubber design keeps it flexible and strong, while also easy to hold and carry. It’s available in two sizes and two colors and is well-priced.
It’s also great for those teething puppies and dogs that like to chew. The non-toxic rubber is a highly recommended option for dog owners wanting to get their dogs interested in frisbee games.
Some Helpful Tips
Let’s end our informational article with a few helpful tips.
- Take things slow and build a foundation before moving on to new tasks. Your dog will likely catch on faster if you take the time to really build in those commands you want them to follow. Especially with young puppies or dogs with little obedience training, be patient and take your time.
- Unless you feel really confident in the durability of your frisbee, keep it around only for frisbee playtime. If your dog has all day to chew away on it, it may not last, and you could find yourself replacing them frequently. Depending on the material, it can also damage their teeth. Plastic frisbees are much less forgiving than rubber or nylon frisbees, so if you notice any bloody gums or signs of pain, we recommend choosing a different frisbee or lessening their chew time.
- Keep your dog hydrated during playtime and watch for signs of discomfort. This is a time for play and fun, and dogs sometimes don’t know when to stop. Frisbee throwing is a great exercise, especially for dogs that require a lot of it. However, build in rest points during your games and keep water available.
That’s A Wrap!
Playtime with our dogs is one of the greatest moments for bonding. Frisbee throwing and retrieving is a great way to get your dog’s daily exercise in, learn a new trick, and spend quality time together.
Dogs are capable of learning many amazing tricks and catching and retrieving a frisbee is one of them!
Generally, the steps are simple. It’s important that you first introduce your dog to the new toy, spend some time reinforcing the fundamentals, and provide plenty of praise and rewards when they are successful.
There are many different kinds of frisbee toys made specifically for dogs. We’ve provided several recommendations in this article, but there may be others that you find that are a better fit.
A few things to keep in mind, no matter which frisbee you end up purchasing. We recommend choosing a frisbee that is made of either soft nylon or rubber, especially if your dog is just picking up the skill.
Finally, before picking up and throwing a frisbee with your dog, make sure they are ready to learn. If you’re wanting to get your puppy on the frisbee game train, then take things slow and be patient.
We recommend waiting until your puppy is well developed into their body before teaching them how to jump since they may be prone to injury. Dogs with hip dysplasia may struggle to play without pain, so if your dog is already showing signs of hip discomfort, then frisbee catching may not be the sport for them.
Make sure they stay hydrated and rested, and keep the game fun! Stay consistent and before you know it, you’ll have your dog leaping and spinning in the air in no time.