Training & Behavior

Disc Dog Training For Border Collies: How To, Equipment and Sport Rules

“Disc” is one of the many dog sports for our furry friend. Much like agility, it has amassed interest among dog owners. Now, there are plenty of disc dog competitions enjoyed by spectators, handlers and the dogs themselves.

Disc Dog – Training

If you are interested with disc dog training, one of the many you can try is freestyle flying disc. There are countless of dogs that show enthusiasm in catching flying discs. Nurturing this interest and developing their skills can turn your dog in professional disc athlete.

You can start training by familiarizing your dog with a flying disc. You can associate it with cues, fun and of course, their favorite treats. Sooner or later, you’ll need help to advance with your training. Luckily, there are several sources available like:

  • Clubs – there are numerous dog clubs and gyms across the state. These clubs have experienced staff and complete facilities. Performing a quick search over the web enables you to find the one closest to you.
  • Network – take advantage of your network to get recommendations on finding local breed and training clubs.

When Is A Good Time For Dog Disc Training To Start?

disc puppy training

Majority of the dogs can be set for obedience training somewhere around their 8th to 12th week. However, 8 weeks is the most common to start with training. From this stage, puppies are able to absorb most of the training. Though the lessons are mostly brought by their interactions with other litters and their mother.

Throughout training, high jumping or simply jumping is not entirely encouraged. The process could bring damage to the pup’s growth plates.

In the long run, it can result to one leg being longer than the other or impede their growth. The reason behind is that, puppy’s growth plates are open until they reach their 18th month.

Basic Fetch And Retrieve

Training can start by using a few treats and the disc. Use the disc like one of your dog’s toys. Get them excited to play with it. Then, do a “roll and retrieve”. This is where you roll the disc along the floor and cue your dog to bring it to you. Reward them when they’ve done it.

training fetch with your dog

You’ll most likely buy a toy for fetch and retrieve training. When doing so, always consider the ability, size and age of your dog. For instance, you may want to buy toys that are easy to grasp by teeth for young and senior dogs. On the other hand, if you want to up your training a notch, you may consider the following:

  • Squeaker footballs
  • Rope toys that have rubber attachments
  • Animal shape design dog toys
  • Standard tennis ball
  • Rubber bumper or retriever plastic

Choose an item that you want your dog to fetch. As soon as they pick it up, give them a treat and take that object from them. Do this several times and throw it close to you. If your dog goes pick it up right away, be sure to reward them.

Now that your dog learned “fetch”, the next thing to train them with is “retrieve” to complete the trick. Fortunately, there are three simple steps to do this:

  1. Your dog should be responding to their name prior to adding the cue word for “retrieve”.
  2. Give your dog a treat or any reward whenever they come back.
  3. Increase the length of the object thrown and add distractions.


Chase is imprinted to dog’s genes. It’s part of their instinct. What you can do instead is to train them to curb this behavior. Dogs that are not trained for chase can be dangerous not only to your dog but to everyone else too. Then again, without an outlet, dogs can eventually feel frustrated.

To teach chase to your dog, you can kick it off by building recall training and developing their focus. But try to do this in a quiet place that’s free from distractions. As soon as you found a spot, put your dog in a harness. Attach it to a long-lie lead.

Now work on recall and teach them to concentrate only on you. Start putting minimal chase distractions and gradually increase as your dog becomes adept in this trick. Needless to say, give them treats for every positive behavior shown.

Dropping the disc

If you want your dog to drop whatever is in their mouth, teach them “drop it”. With this command, it enables you to get any item from your dog without running after them.


Teaching “take it” to your dog is as simple as giving the command before handing the toy or any object they want. This can also be taught by giving the cue as when you’re about to take something from their mouth. To initiate the training, you will need two things.


If your dog is used to clicker, then good. Otherwise, when introducing this training tool, first thing you must do is charge it.

The process is straightforward. Click it and give reward to your dog. When they’re used to the click and reward, every click you make grabs their attention.


The next part of the training could be done in a couple of ways. You may either have your dog take the toy from your hand or let them pick it up.


Teaching your dog “jump” command may seem difficult at first. But it shouldn’t be. To start, try to run with their favorite treat in your hand at a certain height. It is a lot safer for dogs to jump while running rather than doing a stationary vertical jump. The latter makes your dog prone to injuries as per studies.

As soon as your dog begins to jump to reach the treat, cue it with the “jump” command. Make sure to reward them for their effort, especially if they grabbed the treat. When training jump command for your dog, make sure to remember the following:

  • Start with a soft disc regardless of the age of your dog. Be mindful though that puppies might have sensitive teeth.
  • Know your dog by heart. Recognize dog gestures when you should stop with the training. Of course, when your dog starts to lay down or panting, it’s your cue to stop and rest.
  • Take a bowl of water whenever you are training. Keep your lessons short. This will prevent them from feeling overworked and look forward on the next training session.

Disc Dog Equipment

You have to guarantee that the disc you’ll be using for the training flies very well. Ideally, it must glide smoothly through the air. This gives it a low curve when airborne.


Collie happy with disc

Here are a few tips you must remember when buying discs for your dog and their training:

  • Preferred dog discs are the ones manufactured using non-toxic plastic. This lets your dog to have a firm bite on the disc without damaging it. In addition, such material is more durable for being bite-resistant.
  • Discs must have a rounded lip. It must be reinforced on the rim to create a safe bite for the dog.
  • Competition discs weigh around 110 to 145 grams. Furthermore, the diameter is no bigger than 9 inches.


If you want your plastic discs to last long, then you must know how to properly maintain it. Keep it clean all the time. Dirt that is present on a spinning disc is like a sandpaper when your dog bites onto it. It may seem odd but dishwasher is a simple yet very effective way of keeping the discs clean.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that the discs are always smooth. If the disc has tear and wear, it may eventually develop sharp dings. This could be dangerous as it is sharp enough to cut on your dog’s mouth. So set a schedule to sand the discs before throwing them back for training.


When engaging cones for disc dog training, you can prepare at least 4 or 5 cones. Alternatively, you can use big plastic cups or cones. They must be 2 feet apart in a single file. While your dog is still on a leash, start from the right between the 1st and 2nd cone. Weave your dog around every cone as you repeat the command. Give them treat after completing the full lap or when they passed through the cone without your guidance.

There are many good reasons for using cones like for example:

  • It can be used to cool down or warm-up your dog. Bending the spine is essential to warm up your dog before you train fetch or any dog sport.
  • Cones could be used too to exercise your dog either indoor or outdoor.
  • The cones may be used as well to reset your dog and introduce another skill.

Measuring Tape

To some, measuring tape doesn’t do much on the training. In reality, it does help in ensuring that your dog gets accurate fitting for their accessories. Using measuring tape, you can guarantee that harnesses, clothing and collars is just the right fitting for your pet. Thus, guaranteeing a comfortable movement when in a disc dog training session.


Dog owners love throwing disc to their dog. This activity is extremely popular that it becomes a common practice. Sadly, not many know the proper way of doing it. It is understandable that you only want what’s best for your dog. But it may also be you who is setting them up for injury. So, take a couple of minutes to fire up your dog and get them ready. Doing so prevents them from being injured.

Protection is a two-way street. As their handler/owner, you must be wearing the right protective gears.

Following are what you and your dog should be investing on.


Vests serve as protection for your four-legged friend. This plays a critical role especially knowing that accidents and mishaps are inevitable during training. By investing in quality vest, you don’t have to worry on where to conduct your training. Besides, vests are very easy to wear.

It comes with multiple storage for all accessories and other essentials needed during dog training. Therefore, whether you have toys, treats or whatnot, the vest gives an easy access to everything. Simply speaking, this is the best purchase you can get for your dog.

Thigh wraps

While thigh wraps look pretty simple products, they work pretty well when used. The neoprene as well as the Velcro straps supports either the hind or front legs, or even both. This is exactly the reason why dogs that are engaged in agility training, disc dog training and the likes can be seen wearing them.

Indeed, thigh wraps provide support in the front or hind legs. But what dog owners don’t know is that there are other great reasons for using one like recovery from trauma or surgery, providing support and cushion from dogs that perform agility from hitting jumps and so on.

Waist Pad

It’s been thought that neoprene waist wrap or waist pad can help with weight loss through sweating. This was based on misconception that water loss is equivalent to weight loss. There never was concrete evidence on this subject. Though, it serves a nice protection when your dog lands lower than their vest or missed a vault.

Disc Dog – Sport

disc dog competition play rules

In layman’s term, disc dog is simply known as frisbee. This is a kind of dog sport that uses disc. Majority of the competitions hosted are choreographed freestyle catching and distance catching.

Categories are also based on the handler’s experience and skills and dog’s gender. There are some dog breeds that are more fitted for disc dog like Border Collies. These dogs can dominate the competition. They are very energetic and love a challenge.


Yes, you and your dog have prepared for disc dog competition. While you two may be equipped with the skills needed, there’s still one thing you must not take for granted.

The rules of the game would play a role on how far you will be in the game. With one wrong move, it could be the end of your journey, via disqualification. To prevent this from happening, see to it that you know at least the basic rules in a disc dog competition:

  • Only discs are allowed. Toys or foods brought in the field are counted for a rule violation
  • The handler needs to inform the judge on what title they’re working on for every competition
  • Dog participants should be confined or leashed when not playing on the field
  • No dogs are allowed to practice on the field unless permitted by the host club. There will be a dedicated practice area, so long as it’s out of sight from the main field
  • Time won’t be stopped if the dog needs to take a leak or nature break during its round. There will be no additional time given to make up for the unforeseen situation
  • Time will be stopped if there’s an interruption beyond the handler’s control. It’ll be resumed when it’s resolved. Handlers might be given the chance to restart from the beginning. But this will forfeit any points acquired from the time when the round was stopped.
  • Handlers/owners should inform the judge on when they’re ready and behind the line via thumbs up. This has to be cued before their time starts
  • Dog must be cleaned after their round

Can Your Breed Compete?

In disc competition, energetic dogs are the ideal candidates. If yours is one that loves to chase and retrieve, this sport will be more like a play for them. Below is a brief list of dog breeds that are deemed regulars in this sport.

Border Collie

Collies are agile and lightning fast. They are known for their intelligence and perfect for high-speed chase. This makes them a wonderful breed for disc.

Belgian Malinois

Otherwise known as Belgian Shepherd. Like Border Collies, these dogs are smart and love physical activities. They’re trainable, which makes retrieval of flying discs is easy.

Golden Retriever

As the name suggests, they are amazing in terms of fetching games. They’ll happily chase and return the toy from their owner/handler. They pack tons of energy that they can literally do this for hours.

Equipment Needed

The only major equipment you need for a disc dog training or competition is the disc. In some competitions, it permits the use of hard and floppy discs to meet the dog’s preference.

Then again, other accessories and gears such as vests, thigh wraps, and waist pads can be used. This will be for the protection of the dog and handler.

How To Compete?

Each and every disc dog competition will have its unique set of rules and guidelines. Needless to say, all participants should be able to adhere to the stipulated policy.

To give you an example, there are competitions that might only accept specific dog breeds. Some on the other hand could be limiting the tournament based on weight limit. For any handler or owner who is interested in enlisting their dog, it is essential to be thorough with the rules.

Registering without knowing anything on the competition rules could eventually lead to your disqualification. Perhaps, your dog did not meet the minimum requirements. That could be a total waste of your energy and discourage you from participating in the future.

The smart thing to do here is to perform research prior to the actual event. You can visit the host’s website. From there, you can check out vital information to join the competition from:

  • Initial requirements on how to join
  • Breeds that are allowed to join
  • Restrictions on the actual game

Border Collie And Disc Dog Training

Border Collie and disc sport

Training Border Collies for disc dog training competition is pretty much the same with other breeds. But since these dogs are packed with energy and super smart, you have to be creative. Fortunately, there are lots of tips that can help you achieve your desired results.

  • Exercise your dog – for sure, you want to maintain the full attention of your dog throughout training. In this regard, make it a point that they have enough time to run and play around.
  • Training sessions – Border Collies and other dogs in general easily lose focus or get bored when engaged in lengthy training sessions. To make the most of your training, keep it short. Preferably, stick to a 10-to-20-minute training consistently.
  • Start them young – everybody knows how smart Border Collies are. These dogs are very responsive to training even at a young age. Take advantage of this trait by teaching them basic commands starting at 3 months old.

Remember these tips when preparing your Border Collie for disc dog competition. The entire process could test your commitment and diligence and could be time-consuming as well. But this is what you must go through to succeed. Don’t give up easily on your dog.

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