Running through forests, jumping over streams, searching for food, flexing your muscles, getting in touch with your wild side—your dog is a dog, not just a house pet. Help your dog enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle by letting him embrace his wild side.
Does your dog love to run, chase, jump and play? Are they always with their nose to the ground sniffing and smelling whatever is in your back yard? Do they have a huge love affair with a ball or special toy? Then your dog may just be the next super athlete.
The benefits of K9 sports, whether at a competitive level or for recreation, can be tremendous to you and your pet, and you will be surprised at the options available for all breeds and behavior types accommodated by K9 sports. In fact, picking the right activity for you and your canine will work miracles for restless, irritable behavior—and do your dog some good as well.
There are over 26 major canine-based sports for dogs and their owners, involving all aspects of a dog’s behavior from running to jumping to swimming. Most are based on behaviors and skills that dogs are bred to perform. For example, the sport of agility is a sport that is a favorite of herding dogs, as these dogs have been bred to work by chasing cattle or sheep, running and maneuvering at fast speeds and thinking and reacting on the fly.
There’s a sport for every dog regardless of body type and physical abilities. Dock diving and
swimming may not be the best choice for dogs with short legs and long bodies, as they have difficulty swimming. Dogs with heavy body types like mastiffs benefit more from weight pulling or cart pulling, as there is less impact on their joints. The small breeds such as Chihuahuas, terriers and dachshunds have a very delicate skeletal system and may enjoy AKC Earthdog trials and agility.
Finding the right activity will not only burn energy and keep your pet fit but there are rewarding psychological benefits as well. Learning new tricks, increasing vocabulary and solving problems all provide mental stimulation for you and your pet. You know your dog is clever, so it’s time to put that brainpower to use.
So, how can you find the right sport for your dog? Practice and patience. Find behaviors that your dog loves and build on those. Dogs are incredible animals that possess strong working instincts; dog sports help to tap into these instincts and preserve the working drive that these animals were born with. Through sports, many dogs can achieve the levels of exercise they require while still having fun.
There are many benefits to finding a sport you and your dog both enjoy. If you don’t have one, you might want to check some out and see if there’s something you can both take up together – even if you never have any desire to compete.
There is nothing your dog enjoys more than being with you, having your undivided focus and hearing you cheer him or her on. Teamwork goes way beyond bonding with your pet; it strengthens your communication skills and gives you and your pet a chance to grow and learn together.
List of K9 Sports: Dog Parkour (Urban agility), Instinct Sports:Earthdog trails, Field Trails, Retrieving, Pointing, Herding, k9 Nose Work; Dog and Human Sports: Canicross, Rollerjoring, Skijoring, Bikejoring, Scootering; Musical Canine, Freestyle, FreestyleHheeling; Outdoor Activities:Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Kayaking, Canoeing, Boating, Surfing; Popular Sports: Lure Coursing, Agility, Flyball, Disc Dog, Treiball; Dog Pulling Sports: Weight Pulling, Carting, Mushing, Sled dogs
Contributed by Steve Mize SouthEast Representative for North America Diving Dogs, former host of the podcast K9 Sports Konnection and owner of Athens Unleashed. He has been competing with his dogs in many different sports since 2009.