The upcoming summer Olympics may have you in a sporty mood. What better way to get active than with your pup? I was curious about organized competitive events for dogs. I had heard of dog shows before, but what athletic pursuits were there for dogs? After conducting some research, I found that the American Kennel Club has various pretty unique events I had never heard of, such as Agility, Trick Dog, Diving Dog, Flyball, and many performance events.
While some of the performance events are breed-specific, the rest of the listed events welcome dogs of all breeds, including mixed-breed dogs. While it is engaging to read about and potentially watch these events, most of us will likely not officially compete with our canine companions. After describing some of these organized sports, I have included some athletic endeavors we can all do at home with our dogs!
According to the American Kennel Club, Agility is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the country. In this sport, you direct your dog with cues and body language through tunnels, around poles, leap through tires, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time. All breeds can participate in Agility.
Dogs which are suitable for Agility are highly energetic, enjoy running, and respond to instruction. Important to note, you are also involved in Agility, so make sure you are ready to develop your guiding skills alongside your pup.
In this event, Trick Dog, you and your dog can show off your arsenal of tricks. Judges evaluate this event by video – so you and your pup can earn a trick dog title all from the comfort of your home! Your dog can earn five trick titles from Novice to Elite Performer. The Novice tricks include: Crawl, Get in a Box, High Five, Hoop, Paws Up, Push Up, Shake, Sit in A Box, Spin & Twist, and Touch.
If you think your dog will do anything for their favorite toy, diving dog may be the right sport for them. In this event, you throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool while they wait on a dock about 40 feet long. On your command, your dog will run along the dock and land in the water to grab their toy.
The goal is to have the longest jump possible, recorded to be as long as 30 feet in the experienced diving dogs.
The sport Flyball is a relay where dogs dash over a line of low hurdles to reach a box. Once there, they use their paws to push a spring-loaded pad and release a tennis ball into the air that they catch and bring back to their handlers – then the next dog starts! Your dog can win titles Flyball Dog Champion, Flyball Master, Flyball Grand Champion.
- Field Trials: The field trials are specialized by breed or breed group, including events for Basset Hounds, Beagles, Coongods, Dachshund, Pointing Breeds, Retrievers, and Spaniels. In each event, the dogs perform specialized practical functions such as tracking a scent, memory, obedience, retrieval, and more.
- Coursing and CAT/FAST CAT: These events test your dog’s speed in a timed run where your dog chases a mechanized lure around a course – these dogs are focused, agile, and fast.
- Herding & Farm Dog: In this sport, your dog uses innate herding abilities to move sheep around a field while taking directions from you.
- Earth Dogs: These events are only open to small terriers and Dachshunds, and the tests assess your dog’s hunting skills for seeping and locating prey underground.
- Scent Work: This sport mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate it has been found.
Sports at Home
Now, most of us will participate in athletic endeavors with our pups at home. Exercise is vital for humans and dogs alike – here are some sports where you can channel any Olympic-inspired athletic energy with your dog!
- Go For a Trial Run – This can be an excellent way for you and your dog to bond and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery together. Additionally, in the hot summer months running on a trail means a reduced chance of searing asphalt temperatures impacting your dog’s paws.
- Tennis – Playing tennis with your dog incorporates skill practice for you and fetch for your dog.
- Swim – If you have a pond or lake near your house, swimming is excellent for your dog’s joints and easier on their paws than running.
- Frisbee – The whole family can get involved in this fun workout which challenges hand-eye coordination, strategic skills and provides an excellent workout.
- Obstacle Course – While your dog may not be the next agility champion, an in-home obstacle course is a fun way to play – indoors or out!
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