Before starting Beagles & Bargains, I didn’t realize just how many interesting sports and activities are available for dogs to participate in. I’ve been considering signing Luna up one for quite awhile, but we don’t have many classes nearby. Since participation in many of these activities comes with a bit of a price tag, I wanted to make sure to find one that Luna would enjoy before diving in.

Benefits of Dog Sports

  • Many sports allow for both mental and physical exercise, which is important in keeping your dog healthy.
  • Sports with handlers can help improve the human-animal bond.
  • Successfully completing the tasks required in a sport can help boost your dog’s confidence.
  • Many dog sports reinforce natural instincts and abilities.
  • The extra exercise can help prevent behavioral issues caused by boredom and excess energy.
  • Dog sports are just tons of fun!

Five Sports for Dogs

1. Agility
Agility is probably the most common and widely available dog sport in the US. In agility, a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course. The team (dog and handler) try to race for both time and course accuracy. In competitive agility, dogs run without food incentives and the handler is unable to assist the dog. Many times both competitive agility and agility for fun classes are offered.

Luna's first agility course at the Super Pet Expo.

2. Nosework
This sport mimics the tasks of a detection dog. Participating dogs must find and alert their handlers to a hidden target odor while ignoring possible distractions. Searches can occur inside, outside, or even in vehicles. Dogs with many different forms of disabilities are able to participate in nosework.

3. Barn Hunt
Barn hunt is a newer dog sport and one that is quickly growing. This sport was created based on certain breed roles to rid farms of vermin, but dogs of any breed can participate as long as they can fit in an 18″ wide tunnel. The course is built out of straw or hay bales and contains various climbing and tunneling obstacles. The goal of barn hunt is for the dog to find a hidden rat. The rat is safely and humanely contained in a PVC tube with air holes and bedding. Then, the tube is hidden somewhere along the course. Although real rats are used in barn hunt, great care is taken to ensure that the rats are safe and unharmed.

Luna wants to try out a dog sport!

4. Flyball
During a flyball event, dogs on two different teams of four run in a relay race over hurdles to a box that releases tennis balls into the air. Dogs must press on a spring-loaded pad on the box to release a ball. After the dog catches the ball, she must return it to her handler. This is a great sport for a dog who likes to run and is a bit of a ball freak.

5. Disc Dog
If your dog is a spectacular Frisbee player, then disc dog may be the sport for you and your pup! In this dog sport, dogs and their human throwers compete in various catching competitions. Possible categories for the competitions include long distance, most catches, and style. If you don’t want to compete, you can still try to improve on these categories in your own backyard game.

This is definitely not a complete list. There are many other dog sports and competitions, but many of them are only regionally done. I have found that these five are widely available across the USA.

Okay, so these sports might not seem super extreme, but some of the tricks dogs do at high level of competition can be! If these five sports aren’t extreme enough for you and your pup, then you might want to try skydiving like this dog did.

Do you do any sports with your dog?

< W is for Why Do Female Dogs Mark? || Y is for You Are My Sunshine >

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman is a bargain hunter, food lover, and software engineer figuring out how to be a pet parent for the first time. Jessica has been a long time lover of all animals (especially llamas and manatees) and is happy that she can finally combine that love with technology.
Jessica Shipman

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  • Emma

    As you probably know, we do nose work and tracking. Agility can be hard on dogs over time especially on the joints, so we don’t do that. Barn hunts sound fun, but we hear a lot of conflicting info on them and they are detrimental to our other nose sports where we need to ignore critters, so no barn hunts for us. Since none of us give a hoot about a ball or Frisbee, the flyball or disc stuff wouldn’t work well. Mom never tried dog sports until last year and we highly recommend it. Sports are a great way to help bond with your dog and have a great time whether for fun or competition. And yes, it can get expensive.

    • beaglesbargains

      Yes of course! Agility is definitely more of a workout. I think Barn Hunts are still working out the kinks since it is so new. Luna doesn’t care much about balls or frisbees either.

  • Stephen Tremp

    A dog taking his master parachuting? Now I’ve seen it all!

    Stephen Tremp

    A-Z Co-host
    X is for Xenoglossy
    http://www.stephentremp.com

  • Yvonne Ventresca

    I hadn’t heard of barn hunt! I thought about doing agility but haven’t yet.

    Visiting from A to Z
    Yvonne

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  • Amanda Yantos

    I love doing agility with Wynston. Barn hunt and nose work are popular in Arizona as well. I don’t agree with flyball or the training methods used (I don’t want a psychotic dog). But I would love Khloee to do freestyle fly disk! I think she’d be great at it.

    • Flyball doesn’t make a dog psychotic. None of the dogs on the team I was on could be classified as that. A veteran lab on that team – boy, couldn’t be farther from the truth. We can amp our dogs up to run fast, but take them right back down – it’s a lot about the relationship and plain smart training. I went to meetups with *hundreds* of dogs, and more often than not the dogs calmly waited their turn right up to the point they ran, then returned to being wonderful, sane dogs. Might be the trainers on whatever team(s) was observed – not all use the same methods, and not all have the same relationship. Pretty much anything can be trained poorly, or well (just as there are dogs that sports are well suited to or not – many dogs shouldn’t do flyball, lure, agility, etc and that’s often to do with the relationship and where they’re from – sometimes you come across that, and *that’s* where my concern would lie. Not at all blanket calling the sport dogs psychotic or poor training methods), and taking a dog to highly motivated and excited but taking them right back when you say “ok, that’s enough, thanks!”.

  • I definitely want to get my dogs into sports, I’m mostly interested in agility & nosework. That video was wild! My dogs would not like that at all LOL!

    • beaglesbargains

      I have no idea how Luna would react, but I would be terrified!

  • The thing I love most about skydiving dog is that she just doesn’t give a woof about it and takes it in stride. I think she may need something even a bit more x-treme!

    Mort loves all of the sports listed above. But perhaps the most of all? Lure coursing. Lure is actually a fantastic sport because it involves pretty much no training and all instinct, and is perhaps one of the most adrenaline inducing sports. Closely related is sprint racing if they’re into lure.

    • beaglesbargains

      I think so too! She is just kinda like “Oh so we’re doing this today…”

      I haven’t heard of Lure, but I was amazed at just how many dog sports popped up in just simple Google search. We need to move somewhere with a backyard, so that we can do some of these!

      • Watch for local events or groups who do it, usually pretty cheap or free to join in. We’ve only done lure coursing with local orgs (no yard for us either), but have a blast. Once you do have a yard you can buy a lure kit too – they aren’t too expensive.

        • beaglesbargains

          Most of what we have around here is just classes. 1 time a week for 6-8 weeks for $200ish, so it gets really pricey.

          • Yikes, for lure coursing?? There shouldn’t be any classes for that – you won’t need any training. Dogs generally do it (Mort), or don’t (as was the case with Tig!). For other sports, classes make sense. Not something you can drop in and try… other than Noseworks, perhaps. I could see that taught in a short period of time (workshop or similar).

          • beaglesbargains

            Oh no that was for other sports. Just checked and lure coursing looks pretty reasonable price wise. Most stuff is a bit of a drive, but I’ll keep my eyes open!

  • Cathy C Bennett

    Did agility with Harley & Leo, not sure what Jax might get into. Right now it’s puppy school (starts this week!)

  • Kyla Patton

    Luma gets sick on car rides so I don’t think I would want to risk throw up in my face while speedflying lol but we already do some fun “nosework” at home to keep her brain active on super hot or rainy days. We take a handful of some low calorie treats (we like the Zuke’s mini’s) and I hide them around a room, then tell her to “find the treat” and off she goes! We are working on finding treats that are under other particularly smelly things right now like her dog bed or some dirty socks. 🙂

    • beaglesbargains

      What a great idea!!

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