Frisbee Dogs

I just started playing frisbee with my Border Collie pup at about 5 months of age. It didn't take much training on our part. It just seemed to come natural to her. I've been told however that no dog of this age should be playing frisbee, that their bones and joints are still growing and this type of exercise can do damage to a growing dog. I was told that CHD is to some extent environmental and any type of activity that involves very sudden high-powered stops should be avoided. Do you have some good input on this subject?

Well, I'm biased so take this all with a grain of salt (I formally compete with my Border Collies in Frisbee).

1) Frisbee is great exercise.

2) Like any sport, it is the weekend folks that get hurt far more often than the ones that practice it regularly.

3) OCD is probably caused by trauma events, though we are uncertain. Frisbee, if done right, doesn't involve high powered stops. I have never heard of a dog developing OCD from Frisbee, though I wouldn't rule it out.

4) Most Frisbee injuries are caused by poor throwers and unpracticed dogs. Pushing a dog beyond its limits is just asking for trouble. Vaulting, for example, in young dogs is just plain stupid.

5) Rollers are a great way to start a pup. I actually think they only last so long because very soon, the dog begins to be able to tear off after the disc and does some pretty dramatic gymnastics in tackling the disc. At that point, I think it's time to get it up in the air.

6) Humans should practice a lot without the dog. If you can't throw it, the dog is going to get hurt. Don't let ANYONE else throw for your dog unless you are assured of their proficiency.

7) Find someone else who does it and learn from them.

8) Young dogs should not be encouraged to jump high into the air after the disc. They should be running after it and catching it from behind. And much of FrisbeeDog work is done with the dog sitting at your feet. Multiples, butterflies, etc.

9) Practice for 5 minutes at a time. Not 30 minute stretches. If you want to continue beyond 5 minutes, move to a lake or ocean and let the dog chase it by swimming after it.

10) Frisbee is a sport and like any physical activity, is a risk and prone to injuries.

However, I can count on one hand the number of dogs that have sustained serious injuries while doing Frisbee from close to a hundred regular competitors. Most of them will admit they were stupid and doing something they knew better not to do. All the other injuries I know of were with those folks that picked up a disc once in a great while. I can also count the same number of serious permanent injuries from folks that I know who do herding, agility, and flyball. I wouldn't suggest for a moment that the dogs shouldn't be involved in those sports either. In other words, if you're going to do it, do it right.

11) Only you and your dog can decide what risks you're willing to take. I try not to, as someone put it, "wrap my dogs in cotton". I also don't push them farther than they should go.

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