Freestyle Flying Disc is a toss-and-fetch event where owner and dog perform choreographed routines that require technical skill and a healthy dose of showmanship. If you compete at the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge®, you and your dog get 2 minutes to show the crowd what you’re capable of.
The elements of the sport are:
- This event is a judged competition
- You earn points for executing toss-and-fetch skills with the flying disc, and for creativity and style
- The handler can use his or her body as a prop for the dog to balance on or as a springboard to great heights
- Competitors are awarded bonus points by executing 2 long distance throws/catches from one end of the field to the other. But the dog must catch the flying disc inside the white Purina® Pro Plan® square to earn the bonus.
You see a wide range of breeds competing in Freestyle Flying Disc, from herding breeds like Australian Shepherds or McNabs to other high-energy dogs like Jack Russell Terriers or Whippets. But the reality is you just need a dog with a strong desire, and the willingness to put the time in to learn together.
TIPS FROM A COMPETITION VETERAN
Andrea Rigler, along with her husband, Jason, used to play club level ultimate. Jason always wanted a dog he could throw a flying disc to.
The couple has competed at the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge®, and now Andrea has joined Purina® as a trainer.
Her advice for those getting started?
“Every dog is different,” said Rigler. “Don’t compare your dog with anyone else’s dog or anyone else’s journey – look for what makes your dog shine. When you first start, you see videos of other players and like their style and mold your own unique style from theirs – it’s hard to not go too fast and do more than you or your dog is ready to do at first. Go slow and enjoy every moment – the journey we have with our dogs really does go too fast. “
As for the traits that give a glimpse into a dog’s potential to excel in flying disc:
“All but one of our dogs are rescues or rehomes – and we really feel strongly that rescue dogs are fantastic for this sport as a lot of dogs end up in shelters for jumping fences, having too much energy or having natural herding behaviors – all things we look for in a great disc dog. We love to educate people about the “rock stars in waiting” at their local shelters or rescues – that any dog truly can be amazing.”
There are a number of ways to get started in freestyle flying disc.
- There are clubs and dog gyms all over the country with facilities and knowledgeable staff. Just do a quick search online to locate one nearest you.
- Another great place to begin is by networking through your local breed-affiliated club.
- Truth is, all you need are some flying discs, a back yard or an area in a park where leash-off activities are permitted.