Some dogs enjoy being couch potatoes and love bugs more than anything in the world. But, there are other dogs that seem to have a calling in life. They can have hidden talents, or not so hidden talents. Does your dog get a kick out of playing frisbee? Does he live for diving and retrieving things in the water? Is he great at jumping over objects or catching a ball on the fly? Or maybe your dog can dance like Fred Astaire?
There are numerous sports and activities for dogs with special talents or simply for dogs and their owners who enjoying doing things together.
Agility is the fastest growing dog sport in North America with thousands of dogs and owners competing each year. The sport calls for the dog, with on-course supervision by the handler, to complete an obstacle course. The course is usually comprised of such obstacles as a teeter-totter, weave poles, jumps, a tunnel, and other objects. The dog with the fastest time wins. Penalties in handling the objects add time faults to the score. Agility is a fast-paced, exciting sport that continues to grow in popularity. There are several organizations that offer agility competitions from the American Kennel Club, which caters to purebred dogs, to the United States Dog Agility Association and the North American Dog Agility Council, in which mixed breed dogs are welcome to compete.
Flyball is another very popular sport for dogs and their owners. Flyball pits relay teams of dogs racing against each other. The dog streaks down a short course over small hurdles toward a box, touches the box and makes a ball pop out, grabs the ball and then races back toward his teammates so the next dog can set out on the course. Fastest team wins. The sport is fast, exciting and lots of fun for all of the dogs and team members. In North America the sport is overseen by the North American Flyball Association (NAFA). There are flyball teams found virtually everywhere these days or it’s easy enough to start your own group with some friends.
Canine Freestyle is what many of us call dog dancing. It is basically a choreographed performance of dog and owner with music. It’s also known as heelwork to music and this is how the training is often done for this sport. If you can teach your dog to heel and follow basic commands then you can teach him the moves required to dance to music. Canine Freestyle is often presented as a demonstration but the World Canine Freestyle Organization also holds events for judging so dogs can receive titles. The Musical Dog Sports Association holds workshops and demonstrations, as does the Canine Freestyle Federation. Canine Freestyle can be a beautiful event to watch as the dog and human move together in choreographed steps to carefully chosen music.
Schutzhund is German for “protection dog” and it refers to the training which develops and evaluates the canine traits that are important for that work. There are three parts to Schutzhund: obedience work, tracking and protection work such as that used by police dogs. Schutzhund as a sport demonstrates a dog’s intelligence and utility. Schutzhund was originally developed to test German Shepherds but it is now applied to other breeds which seek to do the same kind of protection work. Many people enjoy training their own dog in Schutzhund. It allows them to improve their own training abilities and to bond more closely with their dog. Schutzhund is mentally and physically challenging for both dog and owner. It also provides owners with the chance to form friendships with other people training in Schutzhund. In the United States most Schutzhund training is affiliated with the United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA) or the German Shepherd Dog Club of American-Working Dog Association.
Dog Sports For Your Dog