You are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities that you can do with your dog. Don’t think you’re bound by boring obedience or that because you don’t have a border collie you can’t compete in field trials. Take a look at some of the trendiest and most fun dog sports you can enjoy today.
Super fun dog sports
One of the fastest-growing trends in the dog sport world is Lure Coursing. Coursing is a fast, exciting game that exhausts dog’s supply of ‘play-energy’ while giving handlers a really good time. It’s definitely one of the top dog sports around today!
The chase taps into dogs’ innate prey drive. Basically, dogs chase a plastic bunny attached to a line controlled by a machine and lure operator. The speed at which the bunny moves depends on the dogs and the lure operator. The faster the dogs run, the faster the lure operator makes the bunny go. It’s enormous fun for dogs; they just can’t get enough.
You’ve got an option between two types of coursing: Drag Lure and Continuous Loop. The Drag operates by way of pulleys patterned around the field. The principle is similar to reeling in a fishing line once the fish has taken the bait. The dog chases from the farthest pulley with the bunny/lure attached. As the line is ‘reeled’ back the dog sports begin with dogs trying to bite the bait/lure.
With the Continuous Loop there’s no spool or pulley system; instead there is a drive wheel that moves the line at the speed of the motor in a continuous loop. When the course is set, the motor is switched on and the line goes round and round with dogs chasing to their hearts delight. It’s among the best of activities for dogs, and is enormously entertaining to watch!
If the idea of your dog chasing a bunny, even a plastic one, is not your cup of tea, then dog dancing could pique your interest. Also called canine freestyle (musical freestyle) or heelwork to music, dog dancing is a growing sport. Handlers and their dogs perform a choreographed routine consisting of tricks and heelwork to music of their choice. Costumes are encouraged and handlers can work with one or more dogs. Group performances with several handlers and their dogs are also allowed. Absolutely any dog can dance, from slow and steady bassets to majestic St. Bernards and scraggly mutts. You compete at different levels. You start as a complete rookie and use treats to encourage your dog to work in the ring, and work your way up to champion level. At this point you can show off at prestigious competitions like Crufts.
This year the dog fun zone is in Seattle in August with the World Canine Freestyle Organisation (WCFO is a non-profit founded to promote the joys and fun of responsible pet guardianship through musical canine freestyle as sport and entertainment) holding its international conference from the 27th to the 30th of August 2015. The aim is to promote the growth of freestyle globally. The 2015 conference is being hosted by the Emerald City K9 Freestylers but you don’t have to attend the conference to get started in competitive dancing. WCFO has a schedule of dog fun days listed all the way through to 2016, so make sure you check it out.
Take a look at this prize-winning routine for inspiration.
If you love the idea of doing tricks with your dog, but the thought of choreographing a routine causes you to break out in a cold sweat then Rally is for you. In rally, a handler and dog perform a set course of tricks and heelwork exercises to music. All of the fun and none of the artistic pressure.
See this wonderful example of a novice routine to get an idea of what it’s all about.
Often seen as the domain of traditionally sporty dogs like border collies, agility has thrown open its doors to all dog types, including pugs, Min Pins and cross breeds. Agility is a great way to bond with your dog as you both get plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. You can compete if you want, of course, but you can also just have fun and occasionally take part in fun days.
The bottom line is that there is a dog sport for anyone, whether you like to watch your dog get rid of her zoomies through lure coursing or you want to participate in something fun (and challenging) with your dog. Just make sure that whatever activities you choose, the dogs are trained humanely, using force-free and positive reinforcement methods. And remember, it’s all about having fun.