Dog Sports Anyone Can Try Out
You’ve seen the Border Collies zipping through weaving poles, you’ve watched the Labradors jumping meters into a lake, and you can all imagine a team of sled dogs running full-steam ahead. All of these are sports for our canines. While they may seem too advanced for some, the truth is that there is plenty that is friendly for any breed and any age.
If you ever wondered about getting yourself and your dog involved in a sporting event, now is the time! The physical and mental health benefits for both you and your dog are tremendous. No matter your skill level, here are three sports any dog can take part in:
Dog agility is when a dog and handler navigate a pre-set course of obstacles (jumps, weaving poles, tunnels, etc.) within an allotted amount of time. Dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages can compete in agility, making it the most popular dog sport around. Divisions are typically broken up based on the height of the dog (in inches, measured at the shoulder), and weight.
Many dog parks are now adding agility courses, but if you’re struggling to get started do a bit of research to locate any local agility programs and/or trainers. Finding an experienced trainer is often the best option as it gives you professional insight into the sport while building a solid foundation with your dog.
A simplified version of agility, flyball is a sport in which a team of four dogs (with four handlers) race against other teams through a lane with hurdles to a box that releases a tennis ball via a spring pad. The dogs then race back to their handlers while carrying the ball – cuing the next dog to begin their run. The first team with all four dogs (and balls) back to the finish line wins.
The most fun part of flyball is that teams can be mismatched – meaning small breeds and mutts can run with larger dogs. This may not build the most successful win record, but there’s plenty of great socialization and physical activity for all.
This one is for the water-loving dogs in your life. Dock jumping is straightforward, it’s when dogs run along a dog and jump into a body of water after a lure/toy. The dog is judged based on the distance of their takeoff to their entry point in the water. Think of it like diving for dogs, but hopefully without any flips.
Most areas will have local groups that organize dock jumping sessions or have access to a dog-friendly pool for training. Competitions are also quite easy to find and provide an easy-going environment that is very welcoming to beginners.