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Playing Frisbee with Your Puppy

Playing Frisbee is a great way to incorporate exercise into your puppy’s life because they’re fun for both you and your puppy and they’re easy. If you have a high-energy dog, games keep your dog interested. (Even if your dog is more mellow, games are still a good bonding time that gets him exercising.)

To play Frisbee with your puppy, he has to know how to catch (the fly) and retrieve (the return), and you have to know how to throw.

To see whether your puppy has any interest, try the following steps:

  1. Treat the disc as a dinner plate.

    It looks like one anyway, right? For a week, feed your dog on the disk, picking it up after each meal to prevent chewing. Wash and hide the disc until the next feeding.

  2. Practicing inside initially, teach your dog playfully with the disc, saying “Get it.”

    When he grabs the disc, tug lightly to ensure a secure grip before you get him to release it by offering food or tremendous praise.

  3. Play keep away.

    Show your dog the disc and run a short distance before allowing him to grasp it. To see whether your dog is sufficiently in love with the new object, turn it upside down and slide it a short distance away from you on the floor. If your dog grasps it, praise him tremendously.

  4. Try the keep-away game with a new disc that hasn’t been used as a dinner plate.

    Your dog may react differently. Keep the praise high every time he grasps the disc.

  5. Now roll the disc; don’t throw it just yet.

    Your puppy will learn to follow and chase and snatch it while in motion. After he’s addicted to this game, showing him how to catch it on the fly is all that awaits!

Avoid high tosses! Repetitively jumping can strain your puppy’s muscles. Keep your tosses in line with your puppy’s head until he’s matured — about 11 months. If your puppy is prone to joint pain or is dysplastic, choose a different sport altogether.

Are you sure he loves the disc now? Then you’re ready to teach him to catch and fetch. Just be sure to practice in a confined area or put a long line on him during Frisbee time. Follow these steps:

  1. Holding the Frisbee out in front of you, simulate the motion of a flying disc to get your puppy’s attention.

  2. When your dog shows interest, give a very light toss or simply fly the disc into his mouth and release it as he grabs hold.

    Progressively increase the length and distance of your tosses.

  3. When he grabs the disc, encourage him to come back.

    If he returns with or without the disc, praise him wildly. If he decides not to come back, tuck quickly on the lead and reel him in. Again, you’re concentrating on the return, with or without the disc.

  4. After your dog is cooperating, try the return off-leash.

    If you practice outside, stay within an enclosure to ensure your puppy’s safety.

  5. Next, practice with five or six discs, encouraging your dog to return to you before you toss the next one.

Never play this or any other high-energy game directly after your puppy’s meal. Many breeds are highly susceptible to a condition called bloat, in which the stomach flips. This serious condition can be fatal.

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