Want to give your pup the chance to use their inner instincts and have a bunch of fun doing it? There are tons of different dog sports and activities out there for you to try! The fun part is seeing which ones your dog will enjoy and do well at (it may not be what you would think!)
All of the sports listed below are open to both purebred and mixed breeds and are a great place for someone new to dog sports to start. There are many other sports and organizations for specific breeds and skillsets out there that we have not listed that are totally worth researching. We have just focused on those that are open to all breeds and mixed breeds and that we have had personal experience with. More to come as we grow!
Before trying any dog sports, make sure your dog is healthy and physically fit for the challenge. Do your research so you know it will be a good fit for you and your dog, and reach out to people involved in the sport. They will be happy to tell you about it and help you get started. It is also a great idea to go see an event for yourself before you try it. Not every sport is for every dog, so knowing as much as possible before you try will help you and your dog achieve success!
Dog Speed Events (Coursing)
Is your dog crazy about running and chasing things? Then this is the event for you! There are several types of coursing events where your dog gets the chance to chase a bunny (plastic bag) on a pulley system. Its a great way to break into dog sports and let your pup have some fun! While coursing was originally developed for sight hounds, many different breeds compete successfully in these events.
FastCAT- Straight line 100 yard dash. The perfect starter for coursing!
CAT- Coursing Ability Tests, these courses range from 300 to 600 yards with twists and turns.
Want a workout for both you and your dog? Try agility! This is a fun, fast-paced dog sport where dogs run through a series of obstacles. It takes a bit to get the hang of, so attending some agility classes at a local kennel club or agility gym is a must! Whether you compete or not, just learning agility is a great way for you and your dog to learn some obedience and have fun at the same time!
AKC Agility- AKC offers traditional beginner to master agility competitions open to both purebred and mixed breeds. They also offer the ACT program, a perfect place to start for the novice dog and handler and an excellent introduction to agility competition!
UKC Agility- UKC offers beginner to master agility competitions open to both purebred and mixed breeds, wile very similar to AKC Agility, they do have several different obstacles you'll want to practice before competing!
Other Associations- There are many different agility associations. This link shows some of the most popular in the US, but there are also many regional ones that may be in your area and are worth researching as well.
Serious about coursing?
We are too!
Check out Zande's Awesome Quick Release Collars
All dogs have a great sense of smell, but for some wandering with their nose down is a way of life. Scent or nose work gives your dog a chance to use their natural skills and find a hidden scent. With only a few inexpensive tools you can even practice right at home. Scent work is a great low-impact way to work with your dog and is great way to build your dog's confidence. It is also a great activity for both dogs and handlers of all physical ability levels.
AKC Scent Work- Compete from novice to master levels
UKC Nose Work- Compete from novice to master levels in a wide variety of scenarios.
Nearly every dog will hunt if they have the opportunity. In barn hunt you get to work as a team with your dog to jump over hay bales and through tunnels to find the rat! (and yes, they use real rats, but they are perfectly safe and bred just for this purpose) Barn hunt is a ton of fun and very easy to get started in. It is definitely a sport for terriers but is open to any breed or mixed breed that can fit through an 18" tunnel.
Barn Hunt Association- The BHA is recognized by all the major kennel clubs and is a great source of info on the sport.
This one we are really excited about but have not had the chance to actually try yet (teaching African dogs to willingly jump in water takes time...) My Basenji boy actually enjoys being in the water and we are currently working on swimming and jumping in but have not reached competition status quite yet. I have however seen dock diving events and they look like so much fun for both dogs and handlers! Dock diving began as a sport for water dogs but every year more and more non-traditional breeds have been competing successfully too. We'll add more as we learn. As for now, dock diving is available in both AKC and UKC. AKC partners with a group called North American Diving Dogs and is a great source of information about the sport...if your're interested in dock diving this would be the place to start!
If you are anything like me on a walk, you may be convinced your dog should be pulling a sled in the Iditarod. Well, here's your chance to let them pull their little hearts out in a safe and productive way. Weight pull is not just for the big burly types. Using specialized pulling harnesses, dogs get the chance to use their power for good. There are many different national and regional pulling organizations to compete in, and dog gyms are popping up in many areas as well, so its a great idea to search your area for the right place to learn and start.
When done right, this can be a great way for you and your dog to exercise and blow off some steam.
UKC Weight Pull- UKC offers pulling events at some of their shows and is a great place to see weight pull in action. While both purebred and mixed breeds can compete in UKC, dogs who show can also qualify for total dog, a special UKC program designed to showcase both the dog's ability to show and work together.