If you’ve read our post A Disc and a Dog (and if you haven’t yet, stop and go give it a look-see) then you’ll know most dogs LOVE to catch Frisbees. After Chloe and I began playing in K9 Frisbee Toss & Fetch League, I discovered that catching that flying disc is her most favorite-est game, even better than chasing tennis balls.

But what if…you’d like to up the ante in your disc play? Sure, scoring points for every catch is great fun and friendly competition for you and your pup. But what if you’d like to make it even more interesting?

Enter The UpDog Challenge!

Dog catching a frisbee in the UpDog games.
Wayne Ramsay Photography

The UpDog Games were created by several individuals who had been playing in Frisbee leagues but were inspired to play a bit differently. Kat Fahle, one of the creative masterminds behind UpDog explains it was developed “with the idea of creating a solid disc foundation for teams to eventually play freestyle.  Along with that we added a lot of strategy and fun to keep the games interesting and dynamic.” 

You’ve seen those jaw-dropping canine freestyle disc routines – complete with music and choreography and astounding jumps, flips and rebounds.

But wait – don’t let that intimidate you.

Even if you are not aspiring to train a freestyle disc dog, The UpDog Challenge is meant for EVERYONE. That means YOU. The games are designed to get you and your dog working as a team, striving for your personal best, earning awards and most importantly, having FUN!

And boy is it fun!

So how does it work, exactly?

First, it’s all in the accuracy of the throws by the handler and the accuracy of the catches by the dog. There’s a level of skill you and your dog will be working on together that makes these games challenging and exciting.

Secondly : safety first! All the UpDog games are design to give you and your dog the foundations for successful and safe disc play.

The Games

You and your best friend can compete in several unique games. Each has its own set of rules and different ways to score.

For example, in Frizgility your dog will complete three agility obstacles (jumps/tunnels) and then make a catch in the catch zone. When you play 4WayPlay, you score as many points as possible in 60 seconds by catches made in four different score zones.

ChessonChairs playing a game at UPDIF 2018
Æ Ambient Exposure Photography – ChessonChairs

What are Achievements?

To make this even more fun, you and your dog will earn Achievements – digital badges that will display on your online team profile. You’ll naturally earn these as you play the games. It’s so much fun, for example, to see when you’ve achieved a Sharpshooter badge for playing Throw N Go.

And what are UPs?

This is the big deal. UPs are how you level up in the games. Accumulate so many achievements and score so many points and you are rewarded with UPs. Get so many UPs and you’ll qualify to participate in the UpDog International Finals. (More on this below…)

How Do I Get Started?

Easy!

Just visit UpDog Challenge online to create a free profile, add your team (that’s you and your pup) and then activate your team. Currently, it’s just $3.00 for an activation code

Search the site for an UpDog event near you. You can register online.

If you’re in the Nashville area, Happy Dog Ranch in Ashland City has UpDog events scheduled fairly regularly. Melissa Moerland, trial secretary and all-around “game master”, is super informative, welcoming and will explain everything you need to know.

Chloe and I went to our first UpDog event earlier this year. Since she had recovered from an injury not long before, we decided to keep it a bit low-key and participated in just two different games.

Throw N Go is exactly the same as Toss & Fetch league – so we knew what to expect. But Frizgility was totally new and we weren’t sure how to play. We’ve played agility. And we’ve played frisbee. How do those two combine? Melissa spent some time to explain the nuances and walk us through our first round.

It took Chloe and I some time to work out our communication and be clear about what I needed her to do. She was so excited to catch the disc that she wasn’t quite sure why she needed to go through the tunnel when she could just run straight to the catch zone for the throw!

And that’s the real secret sauce to excelling at UpDog: good communication between you and your team member.

All the other competitors were super encouraging at our first attempts at Frizgility. We didn’t score many points but we did have fun and earn a “Nifty Fifty” Achievement for Frizgility. And we scored “Low Five” and “Sharp Shooter” Achievements for Throw N Go. All in our very first event.

Dog holding her frisbee sitting in a chair with her ribbon from UpDog games
Chloe would like you to see her ribbon.

And I think that is why we love UpDog so much. The basis is having FUN with your dog, GROWING together as a team, and LEARNING the foundational skills. Plus, everyone is supportive of whatever level you are playing. Everyone cheers for each catch.

If that sounds like something you and your dog would love to do together, then there’s even more…

What if you’d like to take your disc skills to a whole new competitive level?

Ashton Bemis and her border collie Chess began playing in UpDog events just last year. They earned enough points to be invited to the 2018 UPDIF (UpDog International Finals) held in Cadiz, Kentucky.

Dog catching a disc at UPDIF 2018
Æ Ambient Exposure Photography – ChessonChairs
Dog jumping over an obstacle while playing Frizgility at UPDIF 2018
Æ Ambient Exposure Photography – Ashton Bemis with Chess

Now that Chess is old enough, Ashton has begun working on the basics of freestyle. “I’ve always enjoyed watching Freestyle routines, and now that Chess is old enough to safely land the big jumps, we have been having so much fun training different tricks and throws! All of the UpDog games are designed to help work the base skills necessary for Freestyle.”

Ready to start? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Activate your team at UpDog Challenge
  • Find a local event, decide what games you’d like to play and register.
  • Get in some practice time at home. Can your dog catch the frisbee AND bring it back?
  • Bring a few discs with you on the day of the event. UpDog Challenge has a list of General Rules and allowable discs you may use.
  • Your dog will be waiting off-field for her turn to play, so make sure you have a comfortable and secure place for her to wait.
  • Bring PLENTY of water, clean-up bags and some snacks.
  • You might like a foldable chair while watching all the other teams compete.
  • Or – volunteer to help in any way you can. Helpers are always appreciated.

This is one challenge I know you and your dog will LOVE. ‘Cause who doesn’t love games?

Pin and share with others who would also enjoy this growing dog sport.

10 Comments

  1. Sounds like awesome fun for everybody. Unfortunately, with Cookie’s orthopedic challenges, we cannot engage in such things safely. Just not worth the possible injury. She had an old pelvic injury and her pelvis didn’t heal properly as well as one of her hind legs is shorter than the other. So we’re sticking to less demanding activities.

  2. This looks like it would be fun to see! I don’t think my dogs would enjoy it, (they don’t like frisbees) but I wish they did. Would it be weird to show up to an UpDog event without a dog and just spectate?

  3. Looks like great fun if you have a dog that loves frisbees. I never had. Oh they might chase it a few times, but always preferred tennis balls. I like the idea of frizgility. I used to do agility trials and this seems like a good add on. Maybe for my next dog…Buffy is blind, so cannot catch a frisbee, although she still chases balls-but only for a few feet.

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