You can easily teach dogs to play any number of exciting sports that are great fun for you and your pup. In some cases you may need special accessories or a particular location, but if you’re creative, you can train them at home too. It’s not all about competition, some keen sports stars never take part in organized events, but many dogs recognize that they are competing and really enjoy it – especially when they win! Here are some of the most popular canine sports.
Agility is the most popular of the modern sports for dogs. The discipline first appeared at Cruft’s in 1977, with a small hurdle race for dogs. The dogs seemed to like it and the sport became (literally) a runaway success. Dog agility is a sport in which a dog moves through an obstacle course with the guidance of his handler. Dogs run off leash, so the handler’s only controls are voice and body language, requiring exceptional obedience training of the animal. In competition, both accuracy and speed are important.
Dogs just love flyball – and it’s a great sport to watch as well as play! Flyball is a race involving two teams of four dogs. The dogs spring over a series of jumps (usually four), run to a box, activate a catapult machine with their forepaws, catch the ball that flies out and race back to the start. To do its best the dog has to not just clear the hurdles, but keep a smooth approach and landing to clear the maximum distance in a minimum of time. The turn at the box can mean the difference between winning and losing, so a lot of effort goes into teaching the dog to do it well.
A more relaxed sport, Obedience nevertheless requires extremely high levels of concentration and motivation from both dogs and their owners. The sport involves elementary disciplines such as ‘Sit’, ‘Down’, or ‘Heel’ and retrieving. But it progresses to cover tests of character, like controlling dogs at a distance.
Flying Disc is another of the dog sports that catches the eye, although you’ll probably know it better as playing Frisbee in the park! Competitively the catch and retrieve event is the backbone of the sport. It consists of a timed round where teams of one dog and one thrower, attempt to make as many successful throws/catches as possible before time runs out – rounds usually last one minute. Teams score more points for longer throw/catch combinations, so watch out for some serious party tricks!
Heelwork to music
Popularly known as ‘Dog Dancing’, this fascinating activity has recently developed and expanded very rapidly. Speed and punctuality aren´t important, but cooperation and co-ordination between dog and owner are vital to success. The dog and his owner make one team and dance according to the music.