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
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.
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.
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.