It’s no secret that dogs are some of the most hyperactive creatures in the animal kingdom. This is the reason they need plenty of exercise and proper training to manage their energy levels and control their natural instincts. Sure, activities such as walking and playing count as ‘workout,’ but you must put them to a more serious regimen, like dog sports, if you really want a fit, healthy, and obedient dog.
Canine athletics is a growing and excellent activity for both owners and pups. You’ll not only get some exercise, but you also strengthen the bond with your pet as well as meet like-minded dog lovers.
Of course, some dog breeds are more active and athletic than others. Not sure which sport is right for you? Take a look at these 11 popular dog sports and see if any of them sound like the perfect match for you and your dog.
Flyball is a sport where canine teams of four relay race each other through an obstacle course. The dog sprints over hurdles towards a box with a spring-loaded pad that releases a ball that they should catch and bring back to their handler.
The first team to have all four dogs return with the ball without errors wins. Errors include dropping the ball or committing a false start. All dog breeds can play flyball, but the really good ones tend to be medium-sized dogs who are tall enough to trigger the spring-loaded pad at the end of the course.
2. Dog Agility
Agility is a sport where a dog races through an obstacle course while performing specific actions at each obstacle.
The dogs get instructions through vocal commands, body signals, or movement from their handler. The goal is to complete the course accurately in the fastest time. Handlers are not allowed to touch their dog or the obstacles. They are also prohibited from using treats or toys to lure them through the obstacles.
Any breed can take part in agility as long as they can follow instructions as well as possess good stamina, balance, hearing, vision, coordination, focus, and drive.
Carting is a sport where dogs use their natural instinct of pulling a cart filled with various supplies, weights, and even a person. This sport requires a lot of chemistry and teamwork between the dogs and their handler. Carting is often dominated by large breeds including Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Mastiffs.
Canicross is basically cross-country running with dogs. The dog is always attached to its handler with a harness, bungee cord, and waist belt. Some teams run with two dogs at a time. Basically, the whole aim of the sport is to be the team that covers the most distance and finishes in the fastest time. Huskies and Malamutes are the pioneers of the Canicross, but any dog breed can take part as long as they have topnotch stamina, agility, and cardio.
5. Sled Dog Racing
Sled dog racing is a competitive winter sport where a team of dogs works together to pull a sled carrying their handler through the snow. The team that completes the marked course in the fastest time becomes the winner.
Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Greenland dogs, and American Eskimo are some of the popular breeds used in this sport due to their history and familiarity with this practice. If you want to know more, Yukon Quest is a popular resource for sled dog racing.
6. Dock Jumping
Dock jumping (or dock diving) is an aquatic competition where dogs jump from a dock into a pool, lake, or a body of water. Depending on the event, they will compete for distance or height. Any breed of dog can participate, but they should love water and must be able to swim. They must also have a strong drive to follow, fetch, or retrieve a toy.
7. Tracking Trial
A tracking trial encourages your pup to use their noses to follow a scent trail. This practice used to be common fox hunting, but today it is used as a practice to train dogs for search and rescue work. In addition to the competitive sport, scent tracking can also be used for missing persons and other criminal activities. Any breed can take part in tracking trials, although some breeds are better suited to it such as hunting dogs and scent hounds.
Schutzhund is a sport that was inspired by a trait assessment exam for police dogs. It tests dog characteristics including the ability to track scent, agility, strength, obedience, endurance, and protective instinct. Schutzhund was first used to test the temperament of German Shepherds, but any breed
9. Disc Dog
Disc Dog aka Frisbee Dog is a sport where handlers throw a flying disc and their dog jumps to catch it. It might sound easy, but this requires great communication between the dog and its handler. There are various categories to this disc dog: some events measure the distance, while some allow freestyle choreography. Any breed of dog can be a disc dog athlete, but the most frequently used breeds are Border Collies, Australian Cattle dogs, and Australian Shepherds.
10. Rally Obedience
Similar to agility competition, this sport requires a dog to move through a course and perform obedience commands. This activity focuses less on physical abilities and more on accuracy and understanding demands. The aim is to complete the course at the best time with the least number of penalty points. Any breed can join rally obedience, but AKC-organized tournaments only accept AKC-registered purebreds and mixed breeds.
11. Sheepdog Trials
Last on our list is a sport that relies on strong herding instincts and obedience. Herding requires a handler to communicate quick and efficient commands through a whistle or verbal cues to provide instruction for herding sheep around a field, agates, enclosures, or fences. Depending on the trials, some events only permit herding breeds to take part while others allow any breed to join this competitive dog sport.