teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

I was wondering if there are any tricks to get a dog interested in a frisbee or if it has to be something they become used to as a pup. I recently in the past month got a 1 yr old WGSD rescue and he loves fetching balls, toys, etc... but doesnt seem to know what to do with a frisbee. He will run after it and just kind of paw at it and move it with his nose but eventually gets uninterested and comes back to me without it.

My parents had a pit/catahoula mix that LOVED her frisbee. They usually went to the store and bought them in bulk because it would get so torn up and they had to hide it out of sight when they were done playing. I grew up with that dog and we never did anything special, she just loved to fetch anything and was even excellent at catching it.

It seems both GSDs i have can't catch either. I've tried with food, toys even placing it like 3 inches above their nose and dropping it and without a doubt it always hits them in the face. I even tried this with steak and people food to see if they would be more motivated to catch in general.

I think my dogs are just lazy.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 08:01 PM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

I think dogs just have a natural tendency to go after one or the other. Tosca could care less about retrieving a ball but you show her a Frisbee and she's all over you. She may find it more challenging to catch something in the air.

I'm trying to get her interested in fetching a ball so that when winter comes we have something to do INSIDE.

Please bear with my stupid questions. This old dog is learning new tricks. lol.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 08:12 PM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

If your dog already has some natural toy drive, transferring it to a frisbee may be very possible. But you have to start out slow. I do it with my dogs by having them be just a few feet away and then tossing the frisbee TO them so that it's an easy catch. I prefer the soft frisbee because they're easier on the dog's teeth (and some dogs find that the hard frisbees sting a bit when they catch them). Once my dog will catch the frisbee when I toss it directly to them, then I start to increase the distance between us. And then, finally, I start throwing beyond the dog a bit so it goes after the frisbee.

As far as catching treats - I have found that the big thing is to never toss a treat and then let them get it off the floor. If you toss it and they can just let it fall and then grab it, there's zero incentive for the dog to try to catch it. I let the natural competition between my dogs help them figure out that they have to catch it (if it drops, another dog may get it) but if I'm working with just one dog then I put that dog on leash so that I can stop him from grabbing a dropped treat. Then I toss a treat gently right to his mouth - if he doesn't catch it I pull him back and pick the treat up myself. We try a few more times until he's trying to grab the treat because he's figured out that he NEVER gets it when it drops.

Sometimes using a light treat like popcorn or little pieces of marshmallow will allow you to throw more slowly (if that makes sense) and give the dog more time to think about catching. My black chow was not a natural catcher when I got her at 14 months old, and I used marshmallows with her. It was pretty funny because her little black face had white dots all over it where the marshmallows bouned off .. *L* .. but she soon learned to catch and could hold her own in the group of dogs.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 08:42 PM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

I agree w/Melanie. Get a soft disc (Kodee loves the Flying Squirrel the best:


and he also likes his Softbite Flexible Disc:


I would start out just tossing it very gently right to him, til he gets the idea. If he catches a ball already, it will probably come to him pretty quick. My dog has a very high prey drive, and LOVES to chase/catch anything, so I was lucky, b/c that made it easy for us. Good luck and have fun. If he doesn't seem interested in a frisbee, I wouldn't worry about it, just stick to balls if that's his thing.

Have fun!
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-10-2008, 09:18 AM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

Definitely get a soft disk because the hard plastic ones can damage the teeth.

Please bear with my stupid questions. This old dog is learning new tricks. lol.

Jazz von Jagenstadt aka Tosca
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-10-2008, 09:59 AM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

I follow the pattern Melanie suggested with the exception that I started out rolling the frisbee.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2008, 03:39 AM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

Rolling the frisbee is a neat idea - I could see how that could really bring out prey drive in a dog! I'll have to remember that. I've only played frisbee with my dogs who have taken to it pretty quickly so tossing has always worked, but rolling is a good idea.

Melanie and the gang

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Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
RIP *Trick*Kylee*Dawson*Lady*
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-18-2009, 08:41 PM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

Yeah I trained Nikkia with Melanie's technique it took her about 1 month to catch on and another to be able to catch it now she is absolutely obsessed!

she has been very upset with me since the snow has fallen because I won't let her play until it melts I don't want her slipping and falling and breaking something. She comes over and set her head and the frisbee in my lap and sighs like can we please go play!!! I feel bad but at the same time I would rather her be sad for a few months than in a cast.

it might take a little while for her to get the hang of it like it took Nikkia but I'm sure she will enjoy it when she does.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 09:17 AM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

If it can't catch a frisbee, it's not really a pet. :P

When our pup was 8 weeks old, I got him a small 6" soft disc and just tossed it lightly around the yard. Pups love to chase after anything, and he would run after it and grab it - and often do the prey shake with it.

As he got a little older and more agile, I started to toss it directly to him at short distances. He instictively tried to "grab" it with his mouth. A young pup's eye-mouth coordination takes some time to develop and this helps. Soon, he would manage to catch it, for which a big fuss was made to excite him and let him know how fun that was for us both.

Now he catches like a pro, but one of the things we are still working on (and making some nice progress now) is getting him to start running before it's thrown so that he can catch it in stride with minimal jumping. He's getting the idea of this now and will take off when I say "go".

One thing to be careful of with young pups is to throw or roll anything that will make them suddenly put on the brakes and change direction. That is not good for their joints and growing bones! Try to 'lead' the dog with the toy so that they get it in stride.

Once you start to make a little progress, you should see the dog loves to catch the frisbee. When Kuno made his first few catches, and was praised and applauded, you could see that he was positively beaming with pride - head up high, big smile, prancing like a show horse, etc. This does wonders for their self confidence!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 10:06 AM
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Re: teaching to fetch/catch a frisbee?

Here are my tips from my website and what I generally tell people getting started in disc:

Tips on Beginning Disc Training
1. Rollers

This means roll the disc on its side. This will usually get your dog going after the disc if he isn't interested when you throw it. This also works well for young puppies. They learn to chase after it. Throwing a disc in your dog's face can make them afraid of it, especially as a puppy. It is important that growing puppies don't have too much impact on their growing bodies as well, so rollers are what I recommend at first, and next, some very short throws that can be easily caught.

2. Getting Started

You can start with a flippy-floppy disc from Wal-Mart. It flys well and is easy on your dogs mouth. If your dog is too hard on those discs check out the Hyperflite discs. They have a specific disc for dogs that are hard on discs. They are call the Hyperflite Jawz. You can see the different kinds of discs and order them through the Skyhoundz website.

Try feeding your dog out of the disc if he isn't interested at first. This makes the disc a good thing to your dog. It brings treats and food! Just remember to pick it up after he eats. No chewing the disc!

If you are having a hard time getting him to retrieve, try starting with a ball. This is good for puppies too. This gets the fetching action started.

3. How to Keep Your Dog Interested

Don't give your dog access to the disc whenever he wants, including letting him just chew it like a toy. You want him to be excited to see the disc and make it a special treat to have it. This will create his motivatation to retrieve it.

4. Do not throw the disc until your dog is bored or too tired to keep going. Stop on a good catch and keep him wanting more! This is very important! (caution: you may create disc monster)

4.When starting short throws, if you dog does not catch the frisbee, he does not get the frisbee! This is a must or you could end up with a dog that waits for the frisbee to land and then pick it up.
A long line is useful for this stage of training.

5. Practice your throwing (that's right you have to practice too!) alone or with a friend. There are different throws, and some really cool things you can learn. It is important to practice your throws mainly for the safety of your dog. You can hurt him if he jumps for a bad throw and lands badly. Or some Disc Monsters will run right into a tree/rock/person(this is really bad) when going after their beloved disc.

6. Stay positive! Being harsh with disc will not help you. It will make your dog see the disc as negative, and that is the opposite of what you want!

7. Multiples-This is often one of the hardest things to get your dog to do. Many dogs are confused by more than one frisbee. Work on your drop command and move away from the retrieving. (note this is for advanced disc doggers). Once your dog get's the hang of this, you can really have a good time!

8. Placement- Believe or not, when you throw, it should not be directly to your dog. That is the best way to smack your dog and hurt him. When that happens you can have a really hard time getting him back into the game. Practice with an inanimate object, and throw to the left and right of it. You want to give the disc some spin so it flies slowly and gives your dog a chance to catch it.
This is really a science, and very important part of throwing a disc. It is so easy for a dog to be hurt jumping for a disc! Research throwing techniques! Frisbee Golf is a great way to practice, and meet frisbee masters that can show you cool stuff. Like the air bounce....check it out!

9. Visit the skyhoundz website, they have a lot of information on disc and competitions. They also sell discs when you are ready to move on from the floppys (or you can just stay with floppys, they are great! It just depends if you get the competition bug!)
There is also a great forum for disc doggers at http://www.k9disc.com
There are professionals on there with great advice.

10. And lastly, Pawsitive Vybe it absolutely awesome. You MUST check them out if you visit any site from this post!

Good Luck and have fun!

Missing Alex
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