Canine Disc (also known as Disc Dog, Frisbee Dog) is a dog sport. In Canine Disc competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and choreographed freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between handler and dog, by allowing them to work together. The term "disc" is preferred because "Frisbee" is a trademark (held by Wham-O) for a brand of flying disc.
The sport got its start in the early 1970s, paralleling the rise in popularity of Frisbee sport. The definitive moment came on August 5, 1974 when Alex Stein, a 19-year-old college student from Ohio, and his dog, Ashley Whippet, jumped the fence at a nationally broadcast baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. Stein had with him a couple of flying discs, which he threw for the dog. Ashley astonished the crowd with his disc-catching, as he ran up to 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) and leaped 9 feet (2.7 m) in the air to snag the disc. The stunt was so novel that the game was stopped and Joe Garagiola continued to announce the flying disc action on the field. Finally, after eight minutes, Stein was escorted off the field and arrested. The nationally televised exhibition of Ashley's skill did much to fuel interest in the sport. Stein worked with Irv Lander and Eldon McIntire to create the Frisbee Dog World Championship for people and their dogs. Even today, Stein and McIntire continue to contribute to the sport.
Teams of one person and one dog compete in the standard distance "Throw & Catch" event. Points are awarded to the team for catches at varying distances. Competitions also often feature the dynamic “Freestyle event”, which consists of short routines choreographed to music with multiple discs in play. Divisions in canine disc events are usually based on the skill and experience of the handler. Men and women generally compete in the same divisions for all disciplines.
Is a distance event, distance events go by many names, including Toss and Fetch, Bonus Chase, and Distance/Accuracy. The concept is generally the same. In Canine Disc Australia sanctioned Throw & Catch events contestants have 90 seconds to make as many throws as possible on a field marked with 10 yard increasingly longer distances out to 40 yards. Dogs are awarded points for catches based on the distance of the throw, with mid-air catches rating an extra ½ point. Only one disc is used for these events.
Freestyle is a subjectively judged event, similar to Freestyle events like skateboard and snowboard half-pipe, or Freestyle Footbag (Hacky sack). The team consists of one person (handler) and his or her dog. Depending on the event, the length of a routine will be either 90seconds or two minutes. Up to 10 discs are used for Freestyle Events. Teams are judged in categories that include Canine, Team, Player, and Execution. Incredible flips, hyperfast multiple catches, and spectacular vaults make freestyle a popular event with spectators, and it is regarded as the highest level of competitive accomplishment.
Games are a competition enjoyed by Canine Frisbee teams of all skill and experience levels, including beginners, because the rules are very simple. All Games are 60 seconds, Teams can earn a Games title, which is based upon a team's ability to achieve a versatile array of objective standards without considering teams' relative competitiveness against other teams. Success in games depends in part upon a handler's ability to strategically approach the games round with a focused awareness of the skills to be demonstrated during that games' competition round.
Part of the popularity of the sport is its accessibility. All that is necessary to enjoy it is a level playing area, a dog, and a flying disc. Also, a little imagination is an extra plus for Freestyle competition. It is estimated that over one million dogs play flying disc in the United States alone, though only a small percentage participate in organised competitions. Canine Disc Clubs can be found all over the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada and Australia. The first club was the Dallas Dog and Disc Club, founded in the mid-1980s by Ron Ellis.
Canine Disc clubs organise and promote the sport on a local level, and work with the national organisation – Canine Disc Australia LTD to run events. They offer new-comers a way to learn more about the sport, and are a great place for the experienced competitors to give back. Disc dog clubs can be found throughout Australia. The first club was the Brisbane & Region K9 Disc Club, founded in 2003 by Damian & Karen Noud.
Not all dogs immediately understand the concept of the game. A dog may not instinctively know to turn and chase after a disc that is thrown over its head. To begin, the disc should be rolled along the ground on its vertical edge and the dog encouraged chasing it for a short distance. Not all dogs know how to catch a Disc, to start the disc should be thrown straight to the dog at a short distance. Once he knows how to catch, it can learn the additional concept of running to catch the disc. The disc should be thrown at increasing heights, gradually throwing the disc higher, until it finally goes over the dog's head. At that point the dog instinctively follows the disc all the way around.