So… your pup has boundless energy and you aren’t quite sure what to do with that? Sounds like you have an athlete on your hands, which makes sense given that most dog breeds originated to do some sort of work. Without a “job” to do, your dog has energy to spare and you need a good way to burn off some of that. Well, here are our Top 10 picks for dog sports to try. They’re all super fun for your dog and for you and there’s something for every size and shape of dog.
1. Agility- Agility is basically an obstacle course run by a dog and directed by the handler. It is judged for time and accuracy in completing the obstacles. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives. Handlers are not allowed to touch the dog or the obstacles during the competition. Agility requires basic obedience skills as well as a competitive spirit. Dogs will gain strength, confidence and will wear themselves out while running agility courses. This is fabulous physical exercise for your dog but also a good deal of mental exercise as well. Agility competitions include dogs of all sizes and breeds so anyone can try it, as long as the dog is at least 22 months old. Because agility is a strenuous activity it is not feasible for puppies to compete, although you can begin training and introducing them to the obstacles at a younger age.
2. Obedience Trials – in Obedience trial competitions, dogs must perfectly execute a set of tasks at the direction of their handler. Obedience trials help hone your dogs skills in basic to advanced obedience and titles can be earned through competition. The sport came into popularity when dog trainers used it to bring awareness to their profession and it helps to produce well rounded dogs who behave well in the home, in public and around other dogs. Most local training clubs will offer classes that prepare dogs and hangers for obedience trial competition.
3. Flyball –This is is so fun! a relay race for dogs! With fetching! Flyball teams consist of four dogs; these can be dogs of differing sizes and breeds; who compete in a relay race. Dogs leave the handler, race over a set of hurdles to a box, push the trigger on the box to release a tennis ball, that they then catch and return to the handler before the next dog on the team can go. While dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome its helpful for the dog to be strong enough to set off the trigger to release the ball. Your dog might be a perfect fit for Flyball if he 1. is fit and healthy, 2. has a great recall, 3. LOVES tennis balls, and 4. is sociable.
4. Disc Dog- this is basically a Frisbee competition for dogs, the term disc is used because Frisbee is actually a trademark. Dogs can compete in distance catching or freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between the dog and handler by allowing them to work together closely. Plus it is great exercise for your dog and great fun for both of you. Competitions are usually held during the summer months on flat, grassy fields. Dogs should be 16 months old in order to compete.
5. Dock Diving – Dock jumping or dock diving is a sport where dogs complete for distance or height while jumping from a dock into a body of water. For dogs who love water and are strong swimmers this is a perfect sport! Check out your local obedience clubs for info on places to train for dock diving competitions or visit www.DockDogs.com to get started.
“For dogs who love swimming and are strong swimmers Dock Diving is the perfect sport!”
6. Rally- In rally obedience competitors proceed around a course of stations with their dog in the heel position. There is a series of 10-20 signs instructing the team what to do at each station. Signs will give various obedience related tasks and competitors complete them quickly and move on to the next station. In contrast to Obedience Trial competitions, at Rally, handlers are allowed to encourage their dogs and the rules are not quite so rigid. The AKC< World CynoSport, C-Wags and CHU all sanction Rally events with titles to earn.
7. Lure Coursing – This one used to be limited to sight hounds but now all breed competitions are becoming very common. In Lure Coursing, dogs chase a lure across a field, sometimes over or around obstacles, and compete for the best time. This is a great way for your dog to act on his chase instincts in a safe and humane way.
8. Tracking – You may have noticed your dogs sense of smell is his strongest sense. A tracking trill is a test requiring a dog to follow a scent trail. Events mimic search and rescue missions and assess a dogs natural ability and willingness to follow a trail left by human footprints. Success at tracking trials can lead to real-life search and rescue work as well
9. Dog Hiking – Dog hiking is basically when a dog travels alongside his owners on hiking or backpacking outings. This helps you to avoid leaving your furry friend at home, adds an extra measure of safety to your outing and if your dog is large enough, gives you some extra hauling capacity if your pal has a doggie backpack. Like dog walking, dog hiking has become a service as well recently. Urban dog owners can pay to have their furry friend accompany an experienced hiker on daylong excursions, What a fabulous way for your furry friend to work off some energy while you are off at wok during the week!
10. Conformation Shows-conformation shows are restricted to registered purebred dogs but are a great way to bond with your dog and to meet others with a passion for your chosen breed. Competition is based on how closely your dog matches the breed standard. It isn’t so much competing against the other dogs in the ring as it is trying to produce a dog that is as close to the definition of perfection for that breed as possible. Conformation showing does require basic obedience, some etiquette and a knack for showmanship. There is a lot to learn as a handler but it can be very rewarding to see your furry pal go home with ribbons and titles.