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5 Tips for Throwing Discs to Dogs


While out at your favorite dog park with your new Labrador Retriever watching the owners play catch with their dogs and discs, you realize it's time to show Howie how to catch one. You refuse to be outdone by the showboating team of Jeff Johnson and his German Shepherd, who you must admit, make disc-throwing look like an Olympic sport.

Before you embark on this sport, read on for five tips to help you and Howie too become forces to be reckoned with:

Start Slow

Before you and Howie get started, you need to introduce the concept to him slowly. The goal is for him to chase a disc, catch it in his mouth, and bring it back to you without hurting himself. It's a good idea to practice just the two of you in the backyard to get him comfortable with this new sport. When you start throwing discs at your dog, he might not know right away what to do with it or why it's in the air for that matter. Begin by rolling the disc to him to get him used to the size and shape of it. Some trainers suggest even attaching food or treats to the disc so they can associate it with something fun and positive. When Howie finally gets it, make sure to praise him. And don't expect him to be an Olympic dog champion overnight.

Image Credit: shi liu/Veer

Choose the Right Disc

To get him started, find a disc that doesn't hurt Howie's teeth and mouth while he's learning this new sport. Discs that are light and are made out of soft material are great for beginners. However, they won't fly as high or as long as some of the heavier discs on the market. Lightweight, rigid discs are also popular because they are easy for the pet parent to throw accurately and have a lower chance of hurting your dog if he's struck by one. Keep in mind, your dog can puncture lightweight discs with his teeth and potentially cut his mouth or even your hand. Experiment with different discs and find one that benefits both you and your pup.

Image Credit: Corbis

Know When to Hold 'Em

It's important to learn how to throw the disc without hurting Howie. Pretend you are

holding a dinner plate upside down so you don't drop it. That's the way you want to hold the disc. Place your four fingers under the lip and extend your thumb over the disc. This is significant because when you release the disc, you'll be following through with your wrist, then hand, the arm, then shoulder and your entire body.

Image Credit: reka prod./Westend61/Corbis

It's All in How You Throw It

Your dog will follow the disc where it lands. If you don't want Howie running all over the park and yard, you have to make sure your throws are good and consistent. He's not going to be able to know where to run until he sees the disc in the air. Throwing the disc directly at your pup is a big no-no. Give him an opportunity to see the disc in the air to know where he should chase it.

Image Credit: Dylan Ellis/Corbis

Make Sure Your Dog is Healthy

This type of play will be very exciting for your dog because of his natural instinct to chase and stop small moving objects. Make sure he's in shape to run, jump and possibly fall, and his teeth and nails are in good condition. And by all means, don't forget to periodically check in with him. This type of sport, although fun, can leave marks and bruises. Since Howie cannot tell you where it hurts, keep a regular eye on him during play.

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