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UpDog Challenge - A Dog Sport for Everyone!

Could your dog be a contender for the UpDog ChallengeIf you've never heard of it, this new international canine disc organisation is already extremely popular around the world. 

In just its second year (2016) UpDog Challenge drew more than 5,000 teams from around the world to chase some plastic discs and conquer agility obstacles on grass fields and indoor turf. To learn more, we spoke to Rodney Gooch who officially represents this new dog sport in Australia. 

So what is the UpDog Challenge?

"UpDog is dedicated to expanding the awareness and participation of people and dogs in athletic endeavours. We simply want more people and more dogs having fun, playing together." explains Rodney.

With this goal in mind, UpDog designed a number of fun games built around the opportunity for every dog and human to work towards their own personal bests. You will have fun (Play), you will earn achievements (Achieve), and you and your dog will learn and grow (Expand).

Who can take part in the UpDog Challenge?

UpDog Challenge is a great sport as the games have multiple entry levels to suit everyone from human beginners and puppies, to elderly people and senior dogs - in fact any dog and human can play. 

UpDog games will allow you to achieve at any level. Puppies are permitted to play “on the flat” (no jumping), as they're chasing rollers. Elderly dogs can also achieve by chasing a roller (a roller is a disc that “rolls” on its edge along a surface) and still gain achievements along the way as they compete in different challenges.

What sort of games would you play with your dog?

The most popular games are 4WayPlay and Frizgility. Both games allow teams to compete at a very high level with relatively short throws. 

All UpDog games are designed to develop foundation skills such as retrieve, wait, drop, proper leaping and attentiveness.

Teams who have mastered the basics can then apply any number of other skills like speed, strategy or consistency to succeed at the games, accomplish personal bests and earn achievements.

You can review all the games at and teams can also create a free profile where all scores, digital achievements and standings are stored and displayed. Teams who activate ($5 annually) can review their achievements via their profile page and are also eligible to attend the International Finals.

For the more astute trainer who also enjoys competing or training in Agility, the UpDog games including Frizgility, 7 Up and Funkey have key components of agility using bar jumps and agility tunnels. 

Agility people and their dogs already have half of the skills needed for these games, they just need to develop their throwing skills and their dogs catching skills to Play, Achieve and Expand.

What sort of equipment do you need to train or compete?

Other canine disc organisations only permit and approve certain competition style discs for use during their competitions. 

The UpDog Challenge is unique in that they will allow a larger range of discs to be used, e.g. material ones, a floppy rubber type like the KONG Flyer or the Aussie Dog Products Fly It disc (Blue or Red) with its unique centre hub or pimple. All have been approved for use at UpDog Challenge competitions worldwide.

Some dogs are not ready to use the harder discs or availability can be an issue (all competition standard discs are manufactured overseas). So almost any type of disc can be used at an UpDog competition, anywhere in the world. 

The only disc not permitted is a disc with a hole in the middle. Your disc selection is a matter of personal choice but there are many things to consider: your dog’s skill level is the first priority. "For new dogs, I like to start with something soft like a material disc as going directly to a hard disc may turn you dog off a disc from the start." advises Rodney.

For puppies, things are kept low key and low to the ground as you don’t want them jumping in the air, so games involving tugging, rollers and sliders are the priority for them. Choosing a
n appropriate size is important and smaller discs are available for smaller dog breeds and puppies. Watch out also for their quality as pet specialist retail stores in Australia don’t stock competition discs. Cheaper alternatives that become brittle through UV exposure can cause damage to your dog’s mouth.

Using a soft disc (made of material/rubber) will give your dog the opportunity to engage with you in some key aspects of disc like tugging, throwing rollers or sliders.

How to get started on your UpDog training

Rodney adds that most of his dogs have been rescues with no particular skill sets for anything but being patient and positive was the key to successful training.

We use a verbal reward marker to mark behaviour (like clicker training): using a verbal marker with discs is much easier. 

His advice is to start with very simple moves like tugging, sliders, or rollers. Making sure your dog brings it back to you to engage you for more fun is the key! You can then move to “Takes” before moving on to "Throws"When you're not training your dog, it's a good idea to practice your throws without the dog. 

Teaching your dog to go around the back of your legs both ways helps develop your dog’s ability to “Catch” discs.

Here in Australia, UpDog is just taking root and taking off with a variety of demonstration days and fun matches. 

In April 2017, the first official UpDog DownUnder competition was attended by Head Judge from the States and UpDog founder, Jason Rigler.

"With further competitions planned for 2018 in ACT, NSW, Victoria and QLD, UpDog Challenge is spreading fast and our goal is to have the most fun possible as we expand our skills on the field.  We hope you will choose to Play, Achieve and Expand with UpDog" concludes Rodney Gooch, Australian UpDog Challenge Representative and Judge.

Four Paws Sports trains, competes and presents a variety of dog sports including, canine dock jumping, Flyball, Canine Disc, and two types of dog high jumps.

We travel around Australia doing live shows, compete locally and interstate as well as run casual classes on the Mornington Peninsula at Rosebud.

For more information, please contact the K9 - Disc organisation in your State.


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