Category Archives: Disc Dog

Spawting Dogs

Disc Dog

Most people have heard of dog agility, and probably a lot of people have had a go at it, but what if you haven’t got the space for all that equipment? How about trying some alternative dog sports that get you outside with your dog(s) and that you can do together. Or if you are both competitive types, take part with other sporty dog lovers.

What is CaniCross?



CaniCross is the sport of cross country running with dogs. The dog is attached to the runner’s waist with a bungee lead. It is powered, and whenever the runner’s feet are off the ground, the dog pulls the runner forward. The dog and the human form a team with the human as the driver, directing the dog from behind with voice commands. CaniCross is not only a great way to get human and canine fit but also works the dog’s mind as well as its body.

What skills does your dog need?

To successfully participate in CaniCross, your dog needs basic obedience skills. Start by teaching good lead manners during your walks. Once you and your dog are walking nicely together, start picking up the pace from a jog to a run. In addition, it’s helpful to teach your dog movement cues such as “speed up” or “slow down.”

What types of dogs can participate?

As long as your dog is fit, healthy, of the right age and able to run, you can both take part in CaniCross. Always consult your vet if unsure.

Equipment needed

The equipment needed for the dog is a comfortable fitting harness, which is suitable for running. A bungee line/lead and a waist/hip belt for the runner.

For more information:

trailrunners | CaniCross & CaniSports community

What is Treibball?



Treibball can be best described as urban herding. It is a competitive dog sport that requires teamwork between dogs and their handlers. Together, they must drive large exercise balls into the goal in a set amount of time. Handlers can only use whistles, hand signals, and verbal commands to provide direction to their dogs and play their part in the game.

What skills does your dog need?

The distance skills and verbal cues are similar to those used in agility, but with Treibball, there aren’t the same physical demands on the handler, and so people of any age and athletic ability can play. Basic skills needed are sit and down, touch an object with the nose, turn left and right and work reliably off lead.

What types of dogs can participate?

Most popular with herding breeds, but any dog can take part whatever breed or size.

Equipment needed

You will need fitness balls of varying sizes and colours, a kid-sized soccer goal, long line if your dog is unreliable off lead.

For more information:

Here’s a great video to get you started:

What is Disc Dog?

Disc Dog

Disc Dog

Disc dog takes a casual game of fetch with your dog to a different level. Dogs take part in the sport worldwide, and there are local clubs that organise meet-ups, training sessions and small competitions. In disc dog competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching.

What skills does your dog need?

It will help if your dog already likes to play fetch, but it’s not a requirement. The most important thing is a good bond between human and dog. The sport celebrates this bond by allowing them to work together.

What types of dogs can participate?

Dogs of all shapes and sizes. Check with a vet first if your dog has any fitness or lameness issues.

Equipment needed

Flying discs.

For more information:

UK Disc Dogs Association

Other canine sporting activities

If none of these suit you or your canine, there are lots of other doggy sporting activities that may take your fancy and an excellent look book to get you both in the right frame of mind.

Pathway to Positivity


Scentwork UK

Try Tracking Tracking Lines


British Flyball Association

Heelwork to music

Heelwork to Music in the UK

Dog Puller

There isn’t currently a UK Dog Puller Federation, so you could start your own!

Dog Puller Fitness Tool

Dog Puller Exercise Toy

Scotland’s Disctastic Show

Google – UFO Throw and Catch World Cup Qualifier Photo Susan Balshaw

The weekend of 27th and 28th July, saw the advent of the first-ever Disc Dog Show in Scotland and what a resounding success it turned out to be. Despite the weather doing it’s utmost to dampen everyone’s spirits, a fantastic time was had by all. Dogs and owners alike.

You can see some of the highlights here and read the full show report below. If this doesn’t w(h)et your appetite for this fun dog sport, nothing will!

A pre-show dip!

What an exciting weekend of Disc Dog Activities this first-ever Disc Dog Show in Scotland has been.

We had sixteen classes over the two days and a fabulous entry of 91 partnerships working in both individual events on Saturday and team and pairs events on Sunday. This was a fabulous entry which exceeded my expectations as the show organizer.

Many thanks to our sponsors – to Training Lines and Hyperflite, Fish 4 Dogs, Dorwest Herbs and to the wonderful Jean Steen who made so many super toys.

Class 1 UK DDA Throw Disc

Nicola Russell and Nessie, Crossbreed – UK Disc Dog Association Throw Disc Photo Susan Balshaw

This was the largest class of the day and the standard was high with many of the competitors being new to the sport. The aim is to throw as far as possible on the marked-out pitch in order to maximize your points and you have a minute to do this.

This class opened the show and provided a lot of excitement with a three-way run off for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places which Susan and Lloyd won clearly, leaving Lori and Jackie to fight it out for 3rd and 4th place on a third run off.

The standard was high, and many good dogs sadly went without a place.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring a massive 8 points
2nd  Susan Balshaw and Lloyd, WSD scoring 6
3rd   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen, Bearded Collie scoring 6
4th   Lori Buestow and Jet, WSD scoring 6

Class 2 UK DDA Jump Disc

Laura James and casey, Golden Retriever in UK Disc Dog Association Jump Disc Photo Susan Balshaw

This class offered the opportunity to those who have agility experience to showcase a clear round over three jumps prior to catching a disc. The dogs had 90 seconds to complete as many clear rounds as possible which must include a disc catch per round.

Well done to Lori on having taken the top place with ease and after a run off taking the second place too.

1st Lori Buetow and Jet, WSD scoring 6
2nd Lori Buetow and Wren scoring 2
3rd Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen, Bearded Collie scoring 2
4th Laura James and Casey, Golden Retriever scoring 1

Class 3 UK DDA FreeDisc

Heather Smith and Dinky Diva winners of UK disc Dog Association Freedisc Photo Nicole Bowman

This class offered all the tricks and excitement which so many people associate with Disc Dog and it was my pleasure to judge this class alongside fellow Crufts Competitor and qualifier Penny Mansfield and Nicola Cameron of Kirk Dog Training Club.

The places were hotly contended and some of the scores throughout the class were very close. There was however a runaway winner.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring 71 points

What an athletic dog displaying drive and commitment. Such a variety of tricks and use of distances which showcased this dog’s ability to perfection. With a catch score of 50 and an audience appeal score of 13, this partnership was untouchable.

2nd  Jackie McLaughlin and Brachen, Bearded Collie Scoring 58

This routine was funny from the moment they started which was evident from the full 15 marks awarded for Audience Appeal. There was recognizable patterning in the throws which included a fabulous Round the world, there were jumps and an innovative fingerspin throw.

3rd   Susan Balshaw and Lloyd, WSD scoring 49

This new partnership is one to watch. I judged the Creativity section of this routine and it was stand out different as it had a lovely musicality which very much appealed to the Dog Dancer in me. There was a varied content and a high scoring 26 in the catch section.

4th   Sonya Ingledew and Breeze, WSD Scoring 43

Sonya Ingledew and Drizzle, WSD scoring 43

Same handler with two different dog and well-chosen music reflecting the differences in these two dogs. Drizzle’s routine showcased varied distances and tricks. This little dog has so much more to offer she scored 22 very considered catches and an audience appeal of 12. Breeze suits her name as she is both athletic and fast. I liked the attention to detail in the jumps matching the lyrics of the music at the beginning of the routine. With a catch score of 23 and Audience appeal of 13 these two were inseparable.

Class 4 and 12 – UFO World Cup Throw and Catch Qualifier

Flurry in UFO Throw and Catch World Cup Qualifier Photo Nicole Bowman

This class was held by kind permission of the UFO World Series and we are indebted to Chris Sexton for all the help and support we have been given.

This qualifier was held over two days with each dog having eight one-minute runs and the overall score deciding the winner.

The second day brought the challenge of windy conditions which seemed to vary with each run. But there were clear winners in the top three dogs which incidentally include two dogs from the same breeder and from repeat matings. These three dogs are now qualified for the European Championships in the Netherlands and the World Championships

Thank you to our judges Penny and John Mansfield for their hard work over the two days.

1st   Heather Smith and Luna, Bearded Collie                                                        29
2nd  Heather Smith and Google, Bearded Collie                                                    21
3rd   Heather Smith and Flurry, Australian Shepherd                                           18

Class 5 and 13 – UFO World Cup Freestyle

Marie Docherty and Beardie Walter in UFO Freestyle World Cup Qualifier Photo Susan Balshaw

This class is judged on a variety of aspects and has a panel of judges who judge a category of their own and with the top three judges on the list also giving a comprehensive score on each routine.

Thank you to our judges –





Each partnership competed on both days and the top three partnerships are the qualifiers for the European and American Finals.

1st   Heather Smith and Google                                                                              67.4
2nd  Heather Smith and Luna (owned by Michelle Porter                                  61.97
3rd  Heather Smith and Flurry                                                                                 59.3

Google in UFO Freestyle World Cup Qualifier Photo Nicole Bowman

Class 6 – Small Dog UK DDA Throw Disc and Jump Disc Combined

This class only attracted one entry but in the Throw Disc Nessie managed a respectable score of 5. This little dog is very athletic and keen. A valiant attempt at the Jump Disc, I am sure it will come with training and time.

1st Nicola Russell and Loch Ness Monster, Crossbreed, scoring 5

Class 7 – Small Dog UK DDA FreeDisc

1st   Heather Smith and DinkyDiva, Bichon Frise, scoring 29.4

Class 8 – Toss and Fetch Individuals

As Scotland is about to take part in the Toss and Fetch Disc League, which is a worldwide event, the results here are very good news for the Flying Scots Team who took all top four places.

1st   Heather Smith and Google, Bearded Collie, scoring 13
2nd Michelle Porter and Luna, Bearded Collie scoring 5
3rd   Nicola Russell with Loch Ness Monster, crossbreed scoring 2
4th   Nicola Russell with Boston, crossbreed scoring 2

There were a few judges’ specials throughout this class with Awesome Flying awards going to Heather Smith’s Google and Sonya Ingledew’s Breeze.

Sunday brought a sunnier start to the day which was much appreciated since the Saturday evening Treiball competition had ended in a downpour of rain. Team events and pairs were very much the order of the day.

Class 9 – UK DDA Throw Disc Teams

This was a hotly contested team event with the Bearded Collie Team of Team Captain, Jackie McLaughlan, alongside Marie Docherty, Michelle Porter and Heather Smith and their partners Brachen, Walter, Luna and Google Scoring 182.

The Anything but a Beardie team of Captain, Laura James with Casey, Nici Russell and Nessie, Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Abby and Breeze making 150 points

Class 10 – UK DDA Jump Disc Team Event

It was the turn of the Anything but a Beardie team to take this class with Team Captain Laura with Golden Retriever Casey leading her team of Heather Davis and WSD Flossie, Abby and WSD Breeze, Sonya Ingledew and WSD Drizzle with 10 points to a narrow victory over the Beardies who scored 8.5 points.

Class 11 – UK DDA FreeDisc Team Event

Another victory for the Team of Bearded Collies Captained by Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter, Michelle Porter and Luna and Heather Smith and Google.

A huge well done to the runners up here of Team Captain Laura James and her Golden Retriever Casey, and Abby and Breeze, Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Nici Russell and Nessie.

There were prizes for the best overall Team which was the Beardie Team and a round of good-humoured Disc Cheerleading!

Class 14 – Small dog UK DDA Freedisc

Only one entry in this class but a resounding well done to

1st   Nici Russell and Nessie, Crossbreed

Class 15 – Toss and Fetch Pairs

The weather was very unkind to us as the rain started during this class. The Bearded Collie sisters were runaway winners with the second and third places being hotly contended.

1st   Michelle Porter and Luna with Heather Smith and Google scoring 13.5
2nd  Susan Balshaw and Lloyd and Abby Sams and Breeze scoring 3ackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter scoring 3.5
3rd   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen with Marie Docherty and Walter scoring 3
4th   Nici Russell and Boston with Heather Smith and DinkyDiva

Class 16 – Round the World Challenge

This fun class gave the dogs a lot of fun with the challenge of 90 seconds of drive, athleticism and disc catching.

1st   Jackie McLaughlan and Brachen scoring 27
2nd  Michelle Porter and Luna scoring 17
3rd   Heather Smith and Google scoring 12
4th   Susan Balshaw and Lloyd scoring 6

This brought the Disc Show to a close for 2019. My thanks to all who helped set up for the show, and clear away in the torrential rain, a massive thanks to judges, timers, scorers, DJs and those who gave their time from other Dog Activities to judge in the UKDDA FreeDisc.

We are already looking forward to our 2020 show and hope you may come and join us either by entering or coming along to spectate.

Penny & John Mansfield’s Roxy, Australian Shepherd – part of the wining Treiball Team Photo Nicole Bowman

Rosettes and Prizes Photo Susan Balshaw

Hyperflite Flying Discs

Nicole Bowman Pet Photography

UK Disc Dog Association Event

Train your Dogs with Heather Smith

Disc Dog by Heather Smith

Getting started in Disc Dog has never been easier than it is now even though this canine sport is relatively new to the UK. I had seen it on videos online and I had also seen it demonstrated when I had been judging Heelwork to Music abroad but it was so very exciting to hear it had arrived here in the UK!

I started two years ago and have since become a UK Disc Dog Association trainer, judge and assessor. I had gathered enough interest here in Scotland to have a weekend seminar and was surprised at how much more there was to this activity than simply Freestyle which was I have to confess my initial interest!

Maddie – Lily the Pink Picture courtesy of Janet Dawn

It’s perhaps no surprise that my interest was in Freestyle as it rather looks like my main activity, also known as Freestyle in Heelwork to Music, the difference lying predominantly in the presence of discs! I have been doing heelwork to music for around 14 years now and was aware that many other top competitors abroad were successfully combining these two activities and I suspected that it added a great deal of motivation to the tricks and sequences of tricks that both activities include.

In the UK Freestyle is known as Freedisc and you’d expect to be putting together a routine which included tricks from your dog with a variety of throws from yourself all set to music of your choice! It is the most challenging of the Disc Dog Activities that you can take part in here in the UK and it is perhaps the most spectacular to watch as the handlers include such tricks as rebounds off their bodies, jumping onto their backs and with the dogs doing flips and jumps there is certainly plenty of excitement. And with the inclusion of different types of throws of the disc the handlers and their dogs have to be very skilled.

Freedisc Training

There are other Disc Activities which make for a more accessible starting point. There are a variety of activities such as Toss and Fetch, Throw and Catch as well as UK Disc Dog Association Throw Disc. There are slight differences in the rules of these activities but they all about speed and distance – so how far can you throw your disc and how fast can your dog go catch it and fetch it. These are always against the clock and are fast, furious and exciting. They make for a great entry point to disc where you can hone your throwing skills and your dog can learn to catch. You can play as an individual or as part of a team and they are highly motivating and confidence building for your dogs.

For those of you who enjoy agility, you may very well enjoy Jump Disc. In this UK DDA activity, your dog must complete a sequence of three obstacles which may include jumps and tunnels or three of either, prior to the disc being thrown. It adds an extra skill to the foundation level Throw Disc and prepares your dogs well for the greater and more challenging jumps involved in the freedisc.

Disc Dog is a very active and physical sport and with this in mind one of the most important issues I can address is keeping your dog fit and safe in taking part in Disc Dog, or indeed in any other canine sport.

With physical fitness in mind, I always recommend that new starts and those with young dogs participate in a Body Awareness or Canine Proprioception Course with myself. The purpose of these courses is to develop fitness through a variety of exercises which promote awareness of body parts and in doing these ensure your dog will be less likely to sustain injury.

Developing body awareness

So many of the body awareness exercises involve trick training which as a Dog Dancer are things I am teaching anyway. Such basics as can your dog lift his paws not just the front feet but the back paws too can form the basis for exercises such as bring front and back paws together or all four paws coming together as the dog becomes fitter and develops a strong core.

There is also a great deal of merit in alongside the paw lifting and placing tricks, teaching your dogs to place their feet with precision and care and to this end teaching cavaletti is a lot of fun for both dog and handlers. You can quickly learn a great deal about your dog’s movement which is also useful as both a warm-up exercise but in recognizing whether your dog may have an issue which may require examination by a vet or physio.

Of course, most of my students love all the ‘sexy’ equipment which a body awareness class includes. So, there are paw pods (and sometimes little bean tins and bean bags!) which the dogs use to learn about paw placement, there are peanuts, donuts and exercises balls which are used to develop balance, core and fitness. We even add some tricks to these such as bowing whilst balancing or perhaps even begging and these then are progressed on to my Gymnastricks class!

Gymnastricks is a unique programme that combines sensible exercises to help keep your dog healthy with great tricks for you both to enjoy

Gymnastricks is a whole lot of fun as in this class we are looking at the tricks that Disc Dogs do onto their humans’ bodies and they are a natural progression from Body Awareness Class. Some dogs are cautious about climbing all over their humans’ others simply see no reason not to! You can expect to be teaching your dog to be jumping into arms or onto your body, begging on your back, balancing on your upturned feet and so much more!

Keeping your dog fit and safe means not progressing too fast, taking time to consolidate all your ‘tricks’ so that your dog has a good basis on which to develop and progress. To that end it is advisable you’re your dog should not be jumping until he is 12 months. We are all very aware that dogs, especially large dogs are still growing and developing and there are so many foundation skills to put into place.

Another thing to consider is how you train. So many injuries are borne out of repetition. For example, I have had two agility dogs who both sustained RSI injuries relating to landing and turning, this is a repetitive activity in agility dogs and since the 1990s I have not had these injuries as I have adapted my training to avoid repetition. So, keep your sessions varied, short and repetition free with all dogs irrespective of age.

A good warm-up routine is very important

A final word – make sure you warm up your dog before any activity and that includes throwing a disc. It’s never acceptable to take a dog straight from a car and throw discs. Consider an active warm-up where the dog is active in this (as opposed to stretched by his or her human!) and tailor this to the activity the dog is doing so turns left and right, small jumps etc. A warm-up can take approx. 20 mins, and a cool down period is equally important with the dog’s activity level, heart rate and breathing slowing down and finishing with a massage. A good class will advise on this or take advice from a qualified physiotherapist.

So, if I have captured your interest, I am hoping you might be asking how do you get involved in Disc Dog. There are a whole host of clubs springing up now throughout the UK.   In Scotland, I am the only person running training at the moment and I have regular classes in Ayrshire with foundation classes in the Glasgow area and of course, I am bookable for day or weekend workshops.

The winning disc team at the Dog Lover Show. Jackie McLaughlin and Brachen, Michelle Porter and Luna, Marie Docherty and Walter and myself and Google

Trainyourdogs with Heather Smith

Gymnastricks: Targeted Muscle Training For Dogs

Hyperflite Discs

Trixie Dog Activity Balance Cushion