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Get Your Pup and You Into the Wide World of Dog Sports
Much like their human companions, dogs are happiest and healthiest when they get the proper
amount of activity. What better way to give your pup a workout than to let him or her participate
in dog sports? Yes, it’s really a thing! Here are some examples of dog sports that you and your furry
friend may enjoy.
Agility – Dog agility allows your dog to run off the leash through an obstacle course. In this sport,
your dog is going for both time and accuracy. You help your dog through the course by using
movement, signals and voice commands only.
Treibball – Your dog’s herding instincts can come out to play in this sport, comparable to urban herding without the sheep. In this sport, dogs direct large exercise balls into a goal, similar to herding sheep into a pen. This sport uses verbal cues similar to agility training, but the handler sits on the sidelines as opposed to running with the dog, making the sport accessible to many different people of different fitness levels and ages. This sport is open to all breeds of dog, as well.
Herding – If your dog is a natural herder, like a German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Corgi or Border Collie, you might want to challenge their herding skills with this dog sport. There are many herding clubs and organizations where you can take your dog to practice herding on real livestock. To get into one of these clubs, there is usually a trial during which the dog and handler work together to herd animals, like sheep, ducks or geese, around a field and through fences and gates. After passing the initial test, which basically measures if your dog has a herding instinct, your dog can begin honing skills through training and competing in herding livestock.
Lure Coursing – This sport, in which dogs chase a mechanically operated lure, is usually limited to purebred sighthound breeds. Breeds recognized by the AKC for this sport are Afghan Hound, Basenji, Borzoi, Cirneco Dell’Etna, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Pharaoh Hound, Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound and Whippet. All of these breeds are specially bred to hunt by sight. This sport helps get the dog good exercise while applying skills of their breed.
Scootering– This sport doesn’t require you to join a club or organization. Rather, it’s a one-on-one experience with you and your dog. In this sport, one or more dogs pull a human on an unmotorized kick scooter. The dogs are hooked up with a harness similar to those a sled dog wears, which is in turn hooked to the scooter with a gangline. This sport gets exercise for both dogs and humans, leading to better dog behavior and a stronger bond between pet and human.
Carting or dryland mushing – This sport is typically for larger breeds of dogs. The dogs pull a dogcart filled with supplies (or sometimes a person). This exercise is sometimes used to keep sled dogs in condition during the off-season.
As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can play with your dog and enhance his/her skills while keeping you both in shape. These are just some of them. For more dog sport ideas and fun classes, visit our website. Let the games begin!
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.
Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.
She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.