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My twin brother used to play the (human) sport of Ultimate frisbee. Another interesting fact about him- he has read maybe four books in his life, one of which, something I bought for myself several years ago: Wallace the Pit Bull, about a rescued disc dog. So, after adopting a new dog, the two of us have been starting out watching Youtube how-tos and working on her fetch with the frisbee. Freestyle interests me most, though I'm not sure if our dog has the athleticism for it, and my brother isn't convinced we can really get to a competition level at anything- but I'm a competitive person (and he's certainly not) and eh, even if not, I'll still have a fun game and an exercised dog!

Five weeks ago, my family adopted Bonnie, a lovely seven year old "pit bull type" mix (maybe staffordshire bull terrier...maybe some boxer in there too?). She LIVES for the ball and so far loves the frisbee! She naturally retrieves, jumps into the air to catch, and we've already conquered the challenge of teaching a mostly solid 'drop it' (other than drop it, she knew most average commands- sit, stay, come, very reliably when I adopted her, and is great with other dogs and people so she can go to dog parks and city parks to play fetch and doesn't get distracted).

My first question is: What do I need to know about health and fitness wise? Bonnie is an estimated seven years old and her shelter health intake papers rated her a 7 on the 1-9 dog obesity scale. She slimmed down a little with all the exercise at home in the first week or two (she was a little sore after walking every day at first, so I toned it down, then increased length/speed and that's not a problem anymore). Now I'd rate her at about a 6. I want to get her into shape- how should I go about doing that? She is definitely feeling the effects of weight loss, and seems hungry. I feed her the same amount as my other 60lb dog who's not as active, she was 52 lbs her last vet visit two or three weeks go, and have been splitting it into two meals about two hours apart because before, at around 8 or 9 at night she'd whine and bat her food bowl around.She's of higher energy than our other two dogs, and plays fetch for at least a half hour each day along with a walk, and isn't too tired out, so I think she can do with more. Should I be slower with the frisbee to avoid injuring her? I have slippery hardwood floors and occasionally toss her ball in the house when it's cold outside, do I need to keep it outside where there's better traction, or is she probably fine? She eats Blue brand dog food.

Secondly, a more minor question, do you have any recommendations for brands of frisbee? She has very powerful jaws and in catching the frisbees sometimes pokes holes through them, and can't play tug with them as they'd be destroyed in minutes, as all her toys except for a few- oddly enough, the Toys R Us brand dog ball is amazingly sturdy and bouncy so she can chew it without destroying it! Should I look for dog-specific frisbees or are human ones just the same?

And last of all, any general tips on training for disc dog?

If you're involved in disc dog in the Las Vegas area, I'd especially like to get in touch! I'm looking forward to sometime there's an event in my area.
 

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As far as conditioning goes, look at it the same way you would a human. Jumping into anything too fast will result in injury -and dogs especially, since most don't know when to stop pushing themselves. I would try not to play too much on hardwood floors if she slips around on them.

Walks are a good start, and if she was sore walking then you know you are starting basically from the bottom. Walks typically won't physically tire out a healthy fit adult dog. Most of it is mental stimulation. Once she is walking regularly and not sore, I would potentially look for hillier areas to walk in. A flirt pole is also great exercise.

Personally, I would probably start her on a glucosamine/joint supplement, if she has been overweight and you are starting to have her be more active at an older age.

As far as food goes, how much are you feeding her? As an example, if she is used to getting 4 cups a day but needs to lose weight and ideally should be eating 2 cups a day, I would slowly wane down the food over the course of a week or two until she was down to 2 cups. You can add low calorie foods like green beans to fill her up without adding calories, and I would recommend a slow feeder bowl. My dogs eat dinner off of a lickimat, which are super cheap on amazon. I fill them with raw meat, freeze, and then sprinkle their kibble over the top. Even if she isn't a super fast eater, taking 20-30 minutes to eat is not only enriching but can make her feel like she ate more.

Ideally, you want to be able to easily feel a dog's ribs, and with a pit you may even see the last rib or two when at proper healthy weight.

I personally don't like Blue buffalo as a brand (if that's what you mean by Blue) not that you asked for that opinion xD
 

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If you are thinking of getting competitive, I would recommend getting Xrays of her hips and elbows. 7 is not young, which doesn't mean your dog can't do it but does mean that her joint health should come first.

I had a dog for over 12 years and he was always a phenomenal retriever and great at disc. However, for his entire life we always played recreationally (some casual tosses here and there, disc was a small part of his overall exercise, really limited catches that required jumping) because he was always a heavy lander and wasn't the best mover. His hip Xrays were actually phenomenal but I never did his elbows and I suspect his elbows would not have been as great. However, he lived an active life and was backpacking into his double digit years, did some 15+ mile hikes with a pack no issues... He was just not a dog that belonged in the air :D

My current dog is the total opposite. He is the same size (~73 lbs) as my older dog but very light on his feet and jumps effortlessly. Unlike my older dog, this dog could do catch after catch after catch with no signs of slowing or tiring. Now, I still need to be careful with this dog because he will tear his pads and still want to play (has happened). And he does have some heavy landings. But that's on me to throw well and pick terrain, and this dog can handle disc as a primary form of exercise some days (he would have it every day but that's not good for his body).

Another important thing is to practice throwing. If you have a dog that is crazy for the disc, they are not going to do a good job self-regulating their jumps. Which means if your throw goes into a tree, goes over rough terrain, or is too high, your dog may do crazy flips in the air. Albeit impressive, that's how dogs seriously break something.

Where you play disc is important. I only play on even, shock absorbent surfaces. No asphalt, no ice, no hilly ground, no fields with tons of critter holes, no wooden floors... pretty much even grassy fields (watch out for manhole covers and sprinkler heads). Soft snow is okay if I know what's underneath. I play general fetch in uneven terrain, as it doesn't require my dog to get four off the floor, and a component of fetch could be sniffing out the ball or stick.

Discs to use... I like the Kong Flyer (red, not black) but competitive discs are ones like Hero and Jawz.

Conditioning is also important. An athletic dog that is not conditioned is a dog that will get hurt. So if your dog is still overweight, I would prioritize slimming her down and building her muscle, not necessarily building disc foundations. She spent the first 7 years of her life absent of disc foundations, she could probably wait another few months :) I am not an expert on conditioning, but I like to keep my dog active most days out of the week, with rest days (and rest days, to me, don't mean 'nothing' but rather low impact). We alternate among: weight pull, spring pole, flirt pole, agility, disc, tug, fetch, nosework, carrying a backpack, and other activities. Tearing after and skid-stopping after a ball, hanging off a toy on a tree, jumping for a disc, carrying weight... All require my dog to move in different ways and use different muscles in his body more heavily. Recovery is also important. Some days he just walks and sniffs in the neighborhood. But conditioning is important! And general exercise (ex. 2 hour walk) is not the same as conditioning. Prime example being my older dog who could hike forever but was not built for sustaining high impact activity...

Lastly, it's important to put your dog's needs above your ambitions. I pushed my older dog very hard, but eventually accepted he couldn't safely or willingly do certain things. I deliberately searched for a higher energy/intensity dog this time round and got exactly what I asked for. But I didn't teach him to flip in the air because I really wanted him to do it. I did it because he already showed me he could and wanted to. It all comes at a price. He's not even two yet and he's torn pads, bloodied his mouth, etc. We need to leash him at waterfalls because if we don't watch him he'll want to cross the rapids to fetch the fallen tree branch on the other side... Things like that... So there is a huge amount of responsibility in making sure safety is placed above fun/action/impressive feats. Much to my dog's dismay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info! I'll definitely try giving her green beans or something similar, and I think she'd like a flirt pole. What about Blue Buffalo bothers you?
 

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A lot of good stuff already here, so I'm going to just add the more specific things - since I think I'm the only person on the forum actually competing in disc right now.

Discs - don't use the 99 cent ones from PetSmart or human ones. All discs will break, but the cheap and human discs break down in a way that's dangerous for a dog. For a dog with a hard bite I like jawz and superheros. They are heavier, but they're stable, safe for the dog and they hold up super well. They're expensive (15-20.00 ish per disc but I've had some for a year that are still stable in the air and safe). For distance/accuracy type competitive events, I really like fastbacks or competition standards. I do NOT like the floppy discs for dogs - if you want a fabric one, use one with a rigid rim (tractor supply makes some). Discs need to to be stable in the air to be safe, and those rubber discs just aren't all that great for that.

Competition:

1-) Get into a Toss and Fetch League. There are tons and tons (google, they'll give you a bunch of info including a club listing). 5 week sessions are held four or five times a year and odds are strong there will be a club close to you. Those people will help and it's good practice. Very informal, but fun.

2-) UpDog. If you're going to compete in formal disc things, I recommend them. Any disc that is manufactured without a hole is legal. Rollers are legal (rolling on its edge) making it safe for even young puppies and senior dogs. There are tons of games, and only free style awards doing high leaping catches. There are bunches of games, and they're a super cool group of people. There's a website and facebook group for that, that I'd recommend you join. Tons of knowledgeable people who will help you out.

In fact, if you throw well and are good with the disc there is no need to worry all that much about your dog's age, even if he were 12 or 13, frankly. Conditioning is important but it's not some killer sport. This is a human skill though. You want the disc flat, low, and fast/out in front of the dog. Ideally the dog can run and catch the disc without any feet at all leaving the ground.
 

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Conditioning is important but it's not some killer sport. This is a human skill though. You want the disc flat, low, and fast/out in front of the dog. Ideally the dog can run and catch the disc without any feet at all leaving the ground.
I TOTALLY agree with you CptJack but I wish Brae believed it! :D Granted, I am not the best thrower. But my partner is really good at it and throws them long and low, and Brae STILL manages to (not always, but often enough) throw his body into the air. It's like he wants to do it that way. I think no matter how the disc is thrown, he just has such a big stride and is so fast and also he is crazy.
 

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I TOTALLY agree with you CptJack but I wish Brae believed it! :D Granted, I am not the best thrower. But my partner is really good at it and throws them long and low, and Brae STILL manages to (not always, but often enough) throw his body into the air. It's like he wants to do it that way. I think no matter how the disc is thrown, he just has such a big stride and is so fast and also he is crazy.
It's hard, and the faster the dog the harder it is to manage. Michael CANNOT throw in a way that keeps the disc low and in front of Molly - she's simply faster than his throw is. I can only manage by stopping her and then releasing her *AFTER* I have thrown the disc. Even then she's missing the foundation for catching cleanly so if she 'pops' it up she's going up. Both of those are me issues, not inherent in the game, which is I think what my point is. A lot of people think disc is all vaults and stalls and super athletic stuff. In reality you can competitively play with rollers (and people do) where the disc, never mind the dog, never leaves he ground.

Kiran does do a lot of jumping, but he leaps 'in stride' which doesn't bother me. (Ie : His jumps are mostly out, not up).
 
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