Day 15: SPORTS!

Wow, it’s day 15!!! Half way thru the month of November and our 30 day challenge to a better dog! Today, it’s time for some fun stuff. Inspired by an agility class I taught last night, it’s time to discuss how to deepen your relationship with your dog through canine sports.


Canine sports are incredibly enriching for both guardian and dog. They allow the dog to try new things while constructively working through problems and building confidence. Sports allow the guardian to see that their dog is capable of learning/having fun/and applying their life skills to a new situation.

Believe it or not, there is a sport available for any dog; small or large, young or old, energetic or sedentary, agile or achy, friendly or grumpy, you name it. There is no excuse for not participating in a sport of some kind with your dog even if it’s just to have fun.

Below is a list of common sports to do with your dog and a basic idea of what they are about. I am sure that I will miss some sports and I am sorry. Some sports do require that you have some basic skills like sit, stay, come, etc so it if you haven’t taken a class with your dog it might be a good idea to start with a basic manners class. As with any dog training make sure that the trainer you choose uses positive reinforcement (to deepen the relationship with your dog) and will not use force, pain, or coersion to train your dog (these methods will frustrate you and hurt your dog). Today’s exercise is to pick at least one sport you’d like to try with your dog!

  • Dock Dogs

    This sport offers three different events all of in which a dog runs and jumps off of a dock into a pool of water. The three events evaluate your dog for distance jumped, height jumped, and the speed in which your dog swims to the end of the pool. It is not required to participate in all three events. This is a great low impact sport because of the water and if your dog loves to swim all the better! To get involved visit the website and then find a local team. If you’re in the Colorado area CRCG has pools to practice in.

  • Agility

    This sport is the largest dog sport and one of the fastest growing in the US. In agility you guide your dog thru a course, over jumps, thru tunnels, over ramps and planks that are stationary and move. The goal when running the course is to get the fastest time or accrue the most points, depending on the event. There are many organizations that run agility trials AKC, USDAA, NADAC, and DOCNA to name a few. Each organization has slightly different rules and standard equipment but they are all very similar. If you would like to get involved in agility, google a local trainer that offers classes in your area. You can also easily purchase a basic agility kit to play with in your own backyard. Keep in mind that agility is a high impact sport and should not be done with puppies or dogs that are achy.

  • Obedience

    This sport requires dog and handler teams to perform a series of specific exercises and are judged on how accurately they perform the exercises. Most exercises demonstrate basic manners such as heeling, sit, down, turning left and right, retrieving objects and scent discrimination as well. This sport is great for any dog. To get involved find a local obedience club or trainer that will help you get started.

  • Rally-Obedience

    Rally or Rally O is a fun take Obedience. The judging is looser and instead of performing a course called out by the judge you work your way as a team from one station to another performing the listed task, like an agility course. This sport is great for any dog since it is low impact. Get involved by finding a local trainer that offers classes in your area or you can visit the AKC site and read the beginner’s guidebook.

  • Nose Work

    This up and coming sport is truly great for any dog of any age or ability. Trials are specifically designed to keep dogs separated and are therefore great for dog reactive dogs. In nosework, your dog searches for a hidden scent and then alerts you to it’s location as a drug or bomb dog would. To get started visit the website to find a trainer and classes near your.

  • Treibball

    Treibball is a sport developed recently out of Germany. The goal is for your dog to push a “herd” of exercise balls into a soccer net. The handler must remain within the goal and must direct the dog to the balls. This fun, fast, low impact sport is great for any dog as well. To get started visit the website to find instructors and classes offered near you.

  • Freestyle

    Canine freestyle is best described as dancing with your dog, it is ultimately heelwork with tricks put to music. There are a few “guilds” listed on the website however there are also online courses that you may take to get started with your dog as well.

  • Lure Coursing

    Ever seen greyhounds run?! That’s lure coursing. In which dogs chase after a mechanical “bunny” and race to the finish line. This sport is limited to sighthounds. If you’re interested in this one you can search clubs on the AKC website.

  • Herding

    Herding is a sport in which dogs chase and manuver a flock of sheep, geese or goats into various locations at the instruction of their handler. For this sport you will require not just a dog but a herd or flock of herd-able animals as well. If you’re interested in participating in this sport it’s advisable to find someone who already has these animals and experience with the sport you can do so by googling trainers in your area or searching the AKC website, as well.

  • Disc Dogs

    Does your dog love to play frisbee?! Then this sport is for you. Even if your dog isn’t interested in the frisbee right now you can train for this sport as well. Often there are local groups that train together or classes offered but there are also a lot of online resources to get you started as well.

  • Earth Dog

    Earth dog trials are for small terriers & dachshunds of purebred origin (Gack) to seek, locate and work quarry underground. This is a great outlet for these little guys. To get involved search for a local club that offers it.

  • Hunting

    Do you hunt? Want a little extra help in the feild? Teaching your dog to help you out is a great idea! Specific breeds to have a better aptitute for this sport so find a local trainer to help you out. I suggest using the Positive Gun Dog Association to find a trainer since these trainers use positive methods and build your dog’s confidence they have a much lower rate of “wash out” for gun dogs.

  • FitPaws

    Okay so this one isn’t a competitive sport, but it does allow your dog to exercise physically and develop better confidence and body awareness as well. You can order equipment online or try to find a trainer that offers classes near you. I would google terms like canine Xfit, canine conditioning, FitPaws classes, or Puplates. This is great for dogs that need both physical and mental exercise as well as for dogs that need to build muscle or need physical rehabilitation due to physical limitations.

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