How To Get Your Dog Interested In Frisbee?

A friend of mine recently shared that his dog wasn’t interested in his frisbee at all. He thought every dog did the wiggle and shake thing in anticipation of playing frisbee. Wrong! I wondered if you could get any dog interested in playing fetch and catching a frisbee So I did some research to find out.

How to get your dog interested in frisbee? Here are 5 steps to learn how to play frisbee with your dog:

  1. Get your dog used to the frisbee
  2. Practice floor play
  3. Transition to throwing the frisbee
  4. Teach your dog to return
  5. Train your dog to release the frisbee.

These steps are simple but not easy. They must be followed sequentially. And you must know what you are doing, otherwise, your dog will walk off bored. We’ll run through exactly how to execute each of these steps. At the end, you’ll also find some additional tips and troubleshooting answers.

Step 1: Get your dog used to the frisbee

If you want your dog to catch the frisbee, you have to get them to be interested in and like the frisbee first.

How to get your dog interested in frisbee

There are quite a few techniques you can use to do this:

  • Use the frisbee as a food or water bowl;
  • Place treats in the frisbee while training your dog;
  • If your dog is slow to warm up to new things, simply place the frisbee with the rest of his toys for a while;
  • Casually rotate the frisbee into your normal play;
  • Get really excited when playing with the frisbee to show your dog it’s a special toy. Show it your tone of voice!

Interested does not mean chewing

Getting your dog used to the frisbee does not mean let him chew it to death. If your dog is a heavy chewer, remove it before the chewing begins.

Teach your dog that the frisbee is a fun toy to play with when he or she is with you. Teach them that it’s not a chew toy for him to play with independently.

Once your dog recognizes the frisbee as a fun toy, you can even store it away from the rest of the doggie toys. Then, when you take the frisbee out, watch the excitement!

Step 2: Practice floor play

If your dog just stares at you when you throw the frisbee, start with floor play.

Get sliding

Slide the frisbee across the floor with sporadic movement. The idea behind this is to mimic the movement of prey.

Encourage your dog to “catch” the frisbee on the floor. They may catch the frisbee with their paw. They may then pick up the frisbee with their mouth.

Still no interest?

Try bribery! Place some treats on the frisbee as you slide it across the floor. Ensure the flat side of the frisbee is on the floor. The treats are inside the lip of the frisbee.

Avoid trying to put the frisbee in your dog’s mouth. Dogs are inherently more motivated by things moving away from them. This is because they have an instinct to catch things. Simply putting something in a dog’s mouth removes all the challenge. It removes the fun.

Step 3: Transition to throwing the frisbee

Once you have your dog interested in catching the frisbee on the floor, next move on to throwing it or playing chase with it.

Play chase

To play chase, hold the frisbee while you run away from your dog, encouraging him to play with you. Once he latches on to the frisbee, let go and praise him. This will teach him that catching the frisbee out of the air is a fun and rewarding thing to do.

Throw the frisbee

You can also move on to throwing the frisbee very short distances. Always throw away from your dog and not directly at him. Praise him for catching and running after the frisbee. Don’t expect him to bring the frisbee back to you yet.

So now your dog is reliably going after the frisbee when you throw it. What’s next? Work on increasing the distance you throw the frisbee. This step can take a long time. Don’t get frustrated if it’s taking a while for your dog to catch on. You can also try practicing this step in a low distraction environment if your dog is more interested in things other than the frisbee.

Step 4: Teach your dog to return

If you move on to this step too quickly, it can be frustrating for you and your dog. Make sure your dog has a positive association with the frisbee, and he is consistently running after the frisbee when you throw it.

Decide on a word or phrase to use to command your dog to bring the frisbee back. Try these:

  • “Fetch!”
  • “Bring!”
  • “Bring toy!”

At first, you may need to catch your dog accidentally doing the desired behavior. When he does, give him the proper command and reward him.

You can also bring out a high value treat or toy after your dog has caught the frisbee.

Another technique is to play with your dog on a long leash and pull him back after he catches the frisbee. When he starts to come toward you, give him the return command.

Step 5: Train your dog to release the frisbee

The final step in getting your dog to play with the frisbee is getting him to let go of the toy when he brings it back to you.

This may come easy to your dog if he already knows a release command, such as leave it or drop it. If so, giving your dog this command when he returns to you with the frisbee will likely make him drop it so you can throw it again.

If your dog doesn’t already know a release command, one way to teach him is to give the release command while simultaneously offering a treat. He will have to drop the frisbee to accept the treat.

An important note here is to not try to pull the frisbee out of your dog’s mouth. He might find this tug of war more fun than playing frisbee. Therefore, you will be reinforcing behavior that is the opposite of what you want.

Once your dog learns how fun it is to fetch the frisbee again when he leaves it at your feet, you won’t even need to use your release command anymore.

Best Frisbees For Dogs To Catch

Frisbees, also commonly known as flying discs, come in a very wide variety for your dog.

You probably can’t just pick up any old $2 frisbee on the shelf and be successful. Cheap plastic frisbees will rip and puncture easily from your dog’s teeth.

You may need to try a couple of different kinds of frisbees before you find the right one – rubber, flexible, big, small, etc.

Best frisbee for a dog

The best frisbee for playing catch with your dog will very much depend on your dog, your preferences, and situation like where you will be playing frisbee with your dog.

One of the biggest decisions to make when buying the best frisbee for a dog is whether it’s made from a hard or soft material.

Pros and cons of hard frisbees for dogs
Pros and cons of hard frisbees for dogs
Pros and cons of soft frisbees for dogs
Pros and cons of soft frisbees for dogs

If you choose a heavier frisbee, you’ll be able to throw it farther and straighter. This would be good if you have a very large yard and a dog who needs to work off a lot of energy.

Frisbees made with brighter, more colorful materials will be easier to find in thick bushes. You can even buy glow-in-the-dark frisbees for when you are playing on nightfall.

You don’t want materials that are made from unsafe substances. So spend a little more money to buy a frisbee made from quality non-toxic materials that pass safety standards.

Does your dog have a soft mouth and grip? Do they struggle to catch the frisbee in mid-air? Does your dog get frustrated because he can’t pick the frisbee up off the ground? In this case, try a soft, flexible frisbee made out of fabric or rubber.

Best hard frisbee for dogs

The Hyperflight Jawz Disc is a competition-grade frisbee, so it’s designed for serious frisbee fans.

The grip is patented and it’s made in the USA.

It’s puncture-resistant so it will last many years. That’s why I reckon it is the best frisbee for playing catch with your dog.

And it can fly record-setting distances with its aerodynamic design. Since it travels so well and far, be sure to use it in a wide, open space.

The Jawz does not float.

Best soft frisbee for dogs

I have a couple of recommendations for you.

Flippy Flopper

The nylon and rubber combination of the Hyper Pet Flippy Flopper makes it really lightweight to throw and float through the air.

It’s so versatile, you can play catch with it in the water, grass or snow.

Thanks to the bright color range, the Flippy Flopper is really easy to locate.

Don’t give the Flippy Flopper to an aggressive chewer to play with.

Zogoflex Zisc

West Paw was really conscious of creating a super safe plastic frisbee with the Zisc. The Zisc is made with FDA-compliant, BPA, phthalate-free soft recyclable plastic.

The West Paw Zogoflex Zisc Flying Disc is suitable for dogs with soft mouths so they can catch it mid-flight without hurting their mouth. Although it’s designed to be tough, the Zisc should not be given to aggressive chewers.

You can use it on the grass, snow, and water.

The Zisc is made in the USA. Its the only frisbee I’ve recommended where the manufacturer offers a 100% “Love It Guarantee” to make things right if you are not happy with the performance of the Zisc.

To clean, just place it in the dishwasher. Simple!

Available in 2 sizes; small (6.5 inches) and large (8.5 inches).

Kong Flyer

The Kong is made from soft, non-toxic natural rubber in the USA so it will be very gentle on your dog’s gums and teeth.

The design of the Kong Flyer has a rim with grooves that provide easy grip to the human thrower and dog catcher.

It’s suitable for dogs up to 85 pounds.

It comes in 2 sizes, small and large, and 2 colors, black and red.

Best frisbee for puppy

The best frisbee for a puppy needs to be gentle on their baby teeth and gums, especially when they are teething. My recommendation is the Kong Puppy Flyer.

Available in blue and pink, the puppy Kong frisbee is made in the USA from non-toxic material.

It comes in three sizes to suit all puppies.

The Kong won’t suit a puppy that’s a heavy chewer.

Best frisbee for large dogs

For something a little different, try the Chuckit! Flying Squirrel.

Play with it during the day, on land and water. Play with it in the evening as it features glow-in-the-dark edges.

Given it is not a thick toy and comes with curved sides, dogs find it easier to pick up (especially is they have short noses).

Comes in 2 sizes: medium (10 inches) and large (11 inches).

Best dog frisbee for chewers

My recommendation for the best frisbee for chewers is the West Paw Zogoflex Air Dash.

This frisbee does many things: throw it or water or land, roll it on the ground or use it to play tug of war with your dog. The Air Dash does it all.

It comes in bright colors (three choices) so it’s really easy to find.

Made in the USA, certified safe and FDA-compliant, you can be confident the Air Dash is safe to chew.

Does your dog slobber all over their frisbee? The Air Dash is dishwasher safe so really simple to clean!

Best floating frisbee for dogs

The Ruffwear Hydro Floating Disc for Dogs floats high on the water so you can see it clearly and retrieve it easily. It’s my top choice for the best floating frisbee for dogs.

But you can use it everywhere and in every season. It’s large and brightly colored so you can see it on water and land, including snow.

Being a soft frisbee, it can travel a medium distance and would entertain medium to large dogs. Dogs with soft mouths can easily pick it up off the ground.

Don’t throw it in the dishwasher or washing machine. You need to handwash it in a mild detergent to get it clean. And don’t place it in the dryer. Just air-dry it.

When you’re done playing frisbee with the Hydro, put it away. Don’t let your dog us this frisbee as a chew toy.

Best Dog Breed For Playing Frisbee

The dog breeds that truly play frisbee are those catch the frisbee mid-air rather than picking the frisbee off the ground after it’s landed!

So here’s the most extensive list you will find on the web for the best dog breed for playing frisbee and best dog breed for frisbee catching.

Jumpers

The best dogs for playing frisbee are dogs that are very agile and good at jumping. Here’s a video of dogs that can jump high.

High prey drive

Dogs that have a high prey drive are also great at frisbee.

  • Akita
  • American Bulldog
  • Chihuahua
  • Doberman
  • German Shepherd (jumper too!)
  • Herders – Australian Cattle Dog (jumper), Australian Shepherd, Australian Kelpie (jumper), Belgian Sheep Dog, Border Collie, and any other shepherd breed
  • Hounds – Greyhound (also good at jumping), Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh Hound, Basset Hound, Afghan Hound, Coonhound, American Foxhound
  • Mexican Hairless Dog
  • Mountain Dogs – Bernese, Swiss
  • Papillon
  • Pointers
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Saluki
  • Schnauzer
  • Setters
  • Shih Tzu
  • Siberian Husky
  • Spaniels – English Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Cumberland Spaniel, English Toy Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel
  • Terriers – Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, Australian Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Fox Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Rat Terrier, Silky Terrier, and any other terrier breed
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Whippet (mad jumper).

Regardless of your dog’s breed though, you can be successful even if you run into some issues along the way. The following are some tips and answers to common problems.

Tips and Tricks

Depending on your dog’s breed, you might have an easier or harder time mastering this skill.

Give praise often

Especially in the beginning, praise your dog for any interest in or association with the frisbee.

As you start to play more, praise your dog for catching the frisbee, and even for just trying. Never scold him for missing the frisbee. If you scold your dog for not doing what you want, it will quickly become a negative experience for him and it will be much harder to train him to play with you. Your dog wants to please you and he will get confused if you scold him but he can’t figure out what he is doing wrong.

Make sure the praise you offer is something that is rewarding to your dog. Depending on your dog’s personality and drives, this could include:

  • High value treats
  • Petting and scratching
  • Tug play
  • Verbal praise.

Start slow

When you’re working on training your dog to love the frisbee, start off with short training sessions so your dog doesn’t get bored. Even once your dog gets the hang of it, don’t expect marathon fetch sessions right away.

Also, remember to move through the steps slowly to really allow your dog to master each skill.

Don’t be afraid to go back a step if you find your dog needs more practice.

End on a positive note

Sometimes your frisbee session might get really frustrating for you and for your dog.

If neither of you are having fun and your dog isn’t doing what you want, stop.

Take a break.

Try again later because you want time with the frisbee to be a positive experience.

If you’re going to end a frustrating session, finish with something positive, even if it’s just your dog responding to a command he already knows well.

Throwing the frisbee

One of the reasons you might be having trouble is because you don’t know exactly how to throw a frisbee for a dog.

There is a certain art to throwing a frisbee for a dog. Make sure you’re not throwing the frisbee directly at your dog but instead leading him a little.

If you’re not good at throwing a frisbee, practice without your dog so you can be more accurate. Here’s a video about how to throw a frisbee for a dog:

Your dog will get frustrated if you continually accidentally throw the frisbee where he can’t get it.

When you really get into a groove, you can throw the frisbee a little ahead of your dog, so he will run and jump to catch it.

He’ll find this really fun once he gets the hang of it!

Troubleshooting

Problem: my dog doesn’t catch the frisbee

There are 2 main reasons your dog isn’t catching the frisbee.

Your dog is not very coordinated. Don’t worry, your dog will get better with time.

Your dog is not interested. Try spending more time at steps 1 and 2 to get your dog more interested in playing frisbee.

Problem: my dog drops the frisbee

So your dog catches the frisbee, but then he drops it right away. What do you do?

One technique to try is to go back to throwing the frisbee very short distances. Even if the dog doesn’t bring the frisbee back, you are within distance to reach it so you can show your dog that the frisbee should come to you after he catches it. Spend some time at short distances and slowly work up to longer distances.

The second technique. You can also spend more time working on your “bring me your toy” command. Work on this separately from playing frisbee until your dog really masters this command. Then, you can slowly start to work it into your frisbee play.

Give Your Dog a Job

Since you’ve gone to the trouble of getting your dog interested in frisbee, you need to keep getting your dog to do his job of chasing it, catching it and bringing it back to you.

Dogs, especially smart dogs, like to have a job/s. A job is a task that they do often and receive a reward. Jobs keep dogs mentally and physically stimulated. The more ‘jobs’ they have and the more stimulated they are, the less likely they will be interested in more destructive bad habits like chewing your leather shoes and destroying your sofa!!

If you would like to give your dog more stimulating jobs, here’s a list of 17 jobs for them at home.

At the extreme end of dog jobs is the fastest growing dog sport around today: flyball. Click on my article to learn more about flyball.

Dog Breeds That Play Frisbee

Although any dog can have a desire to chase and catch frisbees, here are your best frisbee dog breed:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Weimaraner
  • Rat Terriers (not to be confused a smooth Fox Terrier or Jack Russell Terrier)
  • Border Collie
  • English Whippet
  • Belgian Malinois Dog
  • American Pitbull
  • Australian Cattle Dog.

Get Out There and Play!

The more you practice with your dog, the easier this will become. Once you learn how to get your dog interested in frisbee and you and your dog gets the hang of this, you’ll be able to spend a lot of quality time together, and it’s a win-win situation. Your dog will tire out quickly without you having to put in too much effort! Plus, frisbee catching dogs are really fun to watch.

If you or your dog don’t like frisbee, there are plenty of alternatives to burn up all that energy they have. Read our articles on flyball or treibball. Or check out this list of activities you can do outside with your dog for heaps of fun!


Author - Marie

With 2 Border Collies (Nyx and Bandit) and a Red Heeler (Ruby). With no livestock, Marie spends most of her time outdoors with her dogs, letting them release all their energy as farm dogs. They are fiends for fetch - even in the snow. Marie has started formal flyball training with Nyx, with the other dog likely follow. Marie is also interested in joining dock diving, sheep herding, and agility activities so that her dogs can burn more energy. All three are adept trick dogs with the ability to wave, shake hands, roll over, sit pretty, walk like people and much more. She has much to share with this community of outdoor dog lovers.

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