Fun, exercise, camaraderie, socialization, plus having a cool dog that can catch discs are all great reasons to bring your dog to a disc dog event, but the benefits of disc reach much deeper.
Mental and physical stimuli are so important to a dog’s well being. A stuffed Kong and interactive games can curb the mental part, but many dogs are not physically satisfied with a long walk in the evening. This can lead to a lot of destructive chewing, digging, barking, and other bad behavior. Guess what? Disc can help with this.
I have owned four Australian shepherds from strong working lines that without disc would have driven most families up the wall. Disc has served us well—and I’m speaking as someone who is about to turn 50, has a total knee replacement, and weighs close to 300 pounds. I can have my dogs panting and exhausted in five minutes or less—all because I learned to throw a disc pretty well.
Sure, there is work and training involved with disc, but it is so much fun, and the sport has strengthened the bond I have with my dogs on and off the field. Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate is a great place to investigate disc, so bring your dog out to a disc dog event. Your dog will be very happy if you do.
Disc Dogs was founded in 2003 with a two-part mission. The first is to help folks and their pups get started safely in disc. The second is to provide an outlet for those high-energy dogs—like my Aussies—that are driving their loving owners a bit nuts. Too many dogs end up in shelters because their energy level is just too much for their owners to handle. Most truly love the dog but just don’t have hours and hours after work to tire out that bundle of energy. Disc Dogs knows.
Disc Dogs hosts two types of disc dog events: play/training days and tournaments. The club strives to help new people get started—even during a busy tournament. Those who attend a Disc Dogs sport event will find it a friendly and welcoming experience. Playdays consist of fun disc games, barbecues, and potlucks, and they are a fine place to get individual attention on any questions you may have. The tournaments offer not only Novice, Pro, and Open divisions but also a Training Division—created so that newbies can use food, toys, coaches, and even multiple throwers on the field in a competition atmosphere. The cost is $15 to enter; club members pay $10.
If your dog will chase a ball or toy, it is often an easy transition to teach him or her to catch a disc. If your dog doesn’t come when called, disc can really help with that, too, and we start dogs without a recall with a 30-foot- to 50-foot-long line to ensure their safety and your peace of mind.
Dachshunds to Great Danes have competed at our events, and we have a few deaf dogs competing, too. My own pup Finnian is deaf in one ear and only has one eye, but he loves disc, competes, and wins—a lot. There have also been many three-legged dogs that do very well in disc.
At a first tournament, you would enter the Novice Division and compete in two rounds of Toss and Fetch. You and your dog start behind the throwing line, and when the announcer says, “Go,” you have 60 seconds to throw the disc and get as many catches as you can. If your dog doesn’t bring the disc back, you can go out and get the disc, but you have to get back behind the throwing line to throw again. The field is divided into 10-yard zones, and the farther you throw, the more points awarded if a catch is made. A ?-point bonus is awarded for any catches when all four paws are off the ground.
So if your dog’s energy is a bit much for you, or you just want your dog to be the coolest dog at the park, come to a Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate disc dog event and join our pack of crazy, high-energy dogs. They sleep really well at night.
Steve Teer has been competing in disc dog sports since 1998. He is currently owned and loved by three Australian shepherds—Irish, Whiskey, and Finnian. He has been a California State Champion and a Western Regional Champion and has qualified for 12 World Championships. To learn more about Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate, visit DiscDogg.com or email Teer at Moteer@aol.com.
Main article photo by: Louie Kirvay