Ignite your family’s competitive spirit by getting involved in dog sports together.
Dogs can be taught to play a number of new and exciting sports. These sports can be as much fun for your whole family as they are for your dog. In some cases, you may need special accessories or a particular venue, but if you get creative, you can train at home, too!
Remember to always have your dog's health evaluated by his vet before starting a new demanding activity. Once you get the go ahead—have fun!
Here are some of the most popular dog sports…
Agility seems to be the most popular of the modern sports for dogs. The sport first appeared at the world-famous British dog show, Crufts, in 1977, with a small hurdle race for dogs. The dogs seemed to like it and the sport became a runaway success—literally!
Dog agility is a sport in which a dog moves through an obstacle course with the guidance of his handler. Dogs run off lead, so the handler's only controls are voice, hand-signals, position and body language, requiring exceptional obedience training of the dog. In competition, both accuracy and speed are important.
Many 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 well, the dog not only has to clear the hurdles, but keep a smooth pace through the hurdles in the least amount of time. The transition 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 still requires extremely high levels of concentration and motivation from both dogs and owners. The sport involves basic commands such as “Sit”, “Down”, or “Heel” and retrieving. But it also tests discipline, like controlling dogs at a distance.
A relatively new sport, dog diving has become increasing popular here in the US where it began as dock diving.
This sport involves dog competitors leaping from a ramp into a pool of water to retrieve a toy. The winner is the dog that achieves the furthest distance.
Flying disc is another dog sport that catches the eye, although you probably know it better as Frisbee® in the park!
This sport got its start in the early 1970s, right around the time that human Frisbee® games were becoming popular. But the definitive moment came in August 1974 when a US college student named Alex Stein jumped the fence at a nationally broadcast baseball game with an amazing dog named Ashley.
Ashley astonished the crowd with eight minutes of catching flying discs. The stunt was so unusual that the baseball game was stopped and the commentators continued to announce the action on the field. Alex and her dog were escorted off the field, but the seed was planted and a new sport was born.
Competitively, the catch and retrieve is the main event of the sport. It consists of a timed round (usually a minute) where teams of one dog and one thrower attempt to make as many successful throws/catches as possible before time runs out. Teams score more points for longer throw/catch combinations, so watch out for some serious party tricks!
Dog Dancing is quickly becoming a popular and entertaining activity. Speed and timing aren't important but cooperation and coordination between dog and owner are key. The dog and his owner make one team and dance along with the music.
All dogs are one-of-a-kind and finding an activity or sport like the ones mentioned above are a great way for your family to bond with your dog!