Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dog Sports: Why Get Dogs a "Dog Disc?"


[Updated Aug 2019] If you've ever chatted up a competitive disc dog player/enthusiast, you may have encountered the perspective that they use specific discs made for the sporting world of "Disc Dogs."  It's all about personal preference, what works best for human/dog, but more importantly, it's about the safety of your pup. Some folks like light discs, others, heavier. The same goes for your pup!

You'll also discover that there's a bunch of interesting info you might be interested in learning about this fun sport of disc dogs.



Getting dog discs for your sport dog

So why dog-marketed discs?

First up, you might notice that dog discs are thinner around the edge.  That makes it easier for the dog to grab and hold on to.  Some regular discs (or Frisbees) can be pretty thick around the edge. Some will say it's not been a problem.  I understand that. But I'd hate to see you find out the hard way that it is or could be a problem. An expensive medical problem.

Dog discs (not counting those big red rubbery Kong ones) plastic is a touch softer than people discs. Or as dog disc manufacturers say, they're more puncture resistant than most discs. More, but some are not completely bite resistant.

Some folks use those blue-colored cloth discs but with Vader's hard chomping power, we've been warned that a cloth disc might not be best for him because there's no resistance for his hard chomping teeth, and thus, he could break his teeth.

So we graduated from cloth to plastic dog discs for fastbacks. Then after a little while, we graduated from the fastbacks to something a little more bite resistant.

Some dogs are soft biters. Not Vader... When we started using the classic fastback-type discs, Vader was going through them pretty fast.  I'd say one or two a week.  That included our efforts to start sanding down the edges.  Why sand the edges?  A little bit on that later.

After a few practice sessions, the discs had a lot of punctures and these stuck up with jagged little edges. I didn't want these tearing at my dog's mouth while it's spinning through the air! So we were sanding down the edges every day.



Yes, I mentioned sanding the discs.

As your dog catches discs, they will develop tooth holes that can stick up (or down) and create small, jagged protrusions.  You don't want your dog trying to catch a disc that's spinning fast, with a jagged protrusion.  That's a recipe for a cut!

So we started carrying sand paper and after every session, we went over each disc and sanded down the protrusions.  After a while, some discs just needed to be retired (called the recycle bin) because they become too tattered.


As we asked around with other dog disc enthusiasts, we landed upon one recommendation from Robin at the "Indy Dog and Disc Club," to check out the Super Aero from Hero Disc USA.

When my discs were only lasting weeks, I was told a Super Aero could last months.  Obviously that caught my attention and we've proven it to be true.



As a dog owner, you have all kinds of options for flying toys for your dog in the pet store, and for the most part, they're all great options.  Most dog owners might go out once a day and spend a few minutes having their pup chase tennis balls, oddly shaped or flying and bouncing toys.  It all depends on the pup.

There are quite a few options for discs for dogs.

Hero Disc USA;
Hyperflite, from SkyHoundz;
- -                        Misprints/Blems;
Pet Food Express Fastbacks;

Having ended up buying several dozen discs over that first year (Probably way over the 100 count), I've settled on a disc model and brand that best suited Vader.  And choice of disc is just as much about preference, performance and dog favoritism as anything.

The discs I use, I purchase from Hero Disc USA and they're called the Super Aero K9 Candy.  They are softer than most discs and still have real decent flight characteristics.  Though to date, the Super Aero I fell in love with was the gen-1, and they've recently come out with a gen-2 which is slightly stiffer.  Still a good disc, but my pup is very selective in his discs.


Dog Discs come in varied sizes of orders.
(My cat is considering becoming a disc "dog"...  nah, never mind. Too much running)

And now for a price trick we learned early on.

If you start looking at dog discs, if you can use the fastbacks from Pet Food Express, you'll only be spending around $2 a disc. But if you start using the better, longer lasting discs, you'll notice a steep increase in price, that being $12-$18 bucks a disc.  And at one or two discs a week, well, that can add up.  One man I know was going through 500 discs a year/season!

But dog disc distributors have an answer for your wallet if you can't swing those kinds of costs every week or month.  (I used to tend to buy discs on a monthly schedule.)

The cost effective resolutions are called misprints or blems.

The distributor ends up with non-perfect discs.  Sometimes it's the text on the disc that gets messed up and sometimes it's the disc itself that gets a blemish and can't be sold as the perfect disc.

The discs my dog appreciates, the Hero Super Aero K9 Candy, cost $14 a pop, but blems only cost around $6, when they're in stock.  The trick is to keep your eye out for when they show up.  Oh, and when ordering blems at discounted prices, you don't have options for color... you get what you get.  But that's worked out OK for us.

- - - - -

And that's that, with our experience with learning what dog discs worked best for us and Vader.

Every disc dog enthusiast will have different experiences and opinions, but the bottom line is the safety of our pups, first and foremost. Vader seems to prefer the softer discs.  One friend I know, her dog is a big, powerful dog, but he barely even dents the discs when he catches them. So you might have to experiment a little bit to figure out what works best with your pup.


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