Any owner of a large or working breed dog will tell you how much energy and effort one of these dogs requires. Most of us don’t realise when buying a puppy or re-homing a shelter dog how much exercise and stimulation pets need. It’s much easier to control and train a well exercised dog, than rant and curse at a dog that never listens because he is too excited and keen to play!
Many owners struggle to cope with an excitable and bouncy dog in the confines of their own homes these days, so much so that they sometimes take them to shelters to be re-homed. If only they realised that an extra hour a day could cure the problem.The key to tackling this is to give them plenty of exercise and the stimulation their brain needs…
This is where dog sports are unbeatable. You can imagine these two dogs in ski goggles skiing down this hill in the winter, can’t you?
Dog sports are becoming an increasingly popular way of running that excess energy off your dog. Plus of course it’s also great exercise for the owner too! But it does take time and patience, your dog will not just pick up these sports in a flash or with your minimum effort. You have to go wholeheartedly into it to get results.
So, with many dedicated owner and trainers forging ahead, inventing and creating new dog sports, what’s stopping you from trying one with your beloved pooch?
You never know, both you and your dog may enjoy a new challenge!
Without further ado, here are some Dog Sports to choose from…
To some people, dogs pulling tremendous weights in Pulling Competitions must seem cruel or even harmful to the dogs, but this is simply not the case. They are trained in the same way as human weight lifters and are in peak fitness; they also seem to really enjoy the whole experience too!
Anyone who has owned or walked a powerful breed will tell you that their dog loves to pull on their lead while out for a walk, so why not take that over-exuberance and turn it to something enjoyable and rewarding for both handler and dog.
In weight pulling, these dogs are harnessed to a cart full of various heavy materials such as bricks or blocks. They normally have to pull the cart approximately 16 feet to the finish line, encouraged by their owner and the crowds cheering them on.
There is no difference from this to the The World’s Strongest Man Competitions
Greyhound racing is a sport where excited and wound up greyhounds chase a lure ( typically a fake hare or rabbit) around a track at breakneck speed, the first dog over the finishing line will be crowned the winner. A lot of countries use this sport as part of a gambling business although it doesn’t seem to bring in the amount of cash that say horse racing does!
One of the most famous greyhounds in history was Ballyregan Bob. He was trained by the legendary George Curtis and constantly packed stadiums to full capacity such was his popularity. Ballyregan Bob won 42 out of 48 races, 32 consecutively. He also held 16 track records and won Dog of the year in 1985/86 too!
Over the years concern has grown over the welfare of the dogs that are no longer good enough or too old to race. Their racing careers tend to be short. To address this problem many charities and greyhound re-homing shelters have sprung up to try and rehabilitate and re-home these gentle and loving dogs.
Dog agility is a sport where a dog is guided around an obstacle course by its owner. The owner achieves this by using voice and body signals and it takes a great deal of training to reach perfection. The trainers are of course not allowed to touch their dog or indeed bribe it with tasty treats or food to get it to complete the course. The obstacle course normally consists of various jumps, A frames, ramps, weaving poles and sometimes even fabric tunnels through and over which the dog has to run to achieve the best time at the finish line. Then, of course, the dog with the fewest penalties and quickest time wins the competition.
The favourite dogs for this sport are normally Border Collies as they are intelligent, quick and very obedient.
Gun Dog (Hunting)
Gun Dogs games are a sport where one dog competes against other dogs to find the best and most obedient dog in its class. There are three classes of dog used to retrieve or assist the shooters in this sport:, a flusher scares the prey out of its hiding place so the gunman can shoot it, the pointer who identifies the position of the dead bird and a retriever that goes and collects the bird after it’s been shot and killed.
Points are awarded for obedience, how quickly the dog responds and finds they prey and additional points for the dog not actually eating the game! The most commonly used breeds of dog are Pointers, Labradors, Spaniels and Retrievers.
Dog sledding is a sport where dogs pull a cart or sled across ice or snow, while their human companion steers. Full skiwearis advisable to protect from the cold. They create a course through woods and across snow covered hills and race these teams of dogs against each other. The sleds are released at separate intervals and timed around the course. The fastest sled across the finish line wins. These kinds of sports are popular in Alaska, Norway and sometimes even in Scotland; basically anywhere that gets reasonable amounts of snow.
Special carts with wheels rather than runners are built for racing on roads in warmer countries or so they can race all year round. Popular dogs include Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.
Disc dog or dog Frisbee was invented in the 1970s and is a sport in which the human throws a Frisbee for their dog to catch. Points are awarded for distance and freestyle catching.
Obviously the more complicated the choreography and the catch the more points awarded.
This is a popular human dog competition as it’s accessible to anyone, even those who are less able bodied. This sport definitely showcases the bond between man and his faithful companion!
Dog Surfing is exactly the same as human surfing and points are awarded for style and length of time on board without falling in. Many of these competitions take place every year all over the world. The most popular place to catch these pooches riding the waves is California, where their human counterparts also enjoy the waves!
Canine Freestyle is a sport which highlights the relationship between handler and dog. Choreographed dance moves to music takes a huge amount of training to achieve and exemplifies their total trust in each other. Every movement to the music is accomplished by the use of verbal commands and subtle body language. Originality and flow of movement are what awards the team the highest points in these competitions, so owners and dogs tend to dress up to put on a show!
Sheepdog trials are a sport or competition where sheepdogs herd sheep, cattle or goats around obstacles and into containment pens. The most famous competition is One Man and his Dog which has been on our TV screens for years. These competitions take place in highly sheep populated Countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Ireland. Most Countries only allow dogs of known herding breeds to compete, while other allow any dog who has been trained with farm animals.The most commonly used breed is the Border Collie
Flyball is a fast paced, doggy relay race that is popular at large dog shows such as Crufts and charity events. Dogs are trained to run over small fences down a field towards a wooden box at the bottom, which launches a tennis ball at great speed. The dogs then catch the ball, jump over all the fences on the way back and tag the next dog in the team. Teams can vary in numbers from 4 to 10 or more, they may also take more than one turn too.
Teams are set against similar ability teams and the slowest team in each round is eliminated until you finally end up with one team winning.
Most breeds are capable of this sport, as there doesn’t seem to be a set breed that is better than another and all the dogs seem to enjoy this competition immensely!
I hope this gives all you dog owners ideas of the sports you and your dog can take part in. Who knows, you may enjoy getting out there and meeting like-minded people and their dogs!