5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. February 2, 2017
5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active

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Although at first sight it may seem that dog sports are activities in which only dogs participate, in fact they require great involvement from the owner. All dog sports require the dog to be trained to perform a specific activity, and in many of them the human owner must participate actively.

Are you looking for ideas to get active with your dog? In this AnimalWised article we will go over the 5 most popular dog sports in the world. Some of them are intended for competition and have stipulated regulations, while others can be practiced freely in dedicated areas with the necessary conditions.

Read on and discover these five dog sports below to find out which is the best choice for you and your four-legged friend.

You may also be interested in: Dog Agility: Tips to Start Training

Herding: Sheepdog Trials

Many dogs were originally bred for herding, and nowadays sheepdog trials are held all over the world. Herding is an exciting sport in which the leader must direct the dog to move livestock towards a certain direction. Of all the dog sports described in this article, perhaps herding is the one that requires most complex and specific training.

In general, sheep, ducks or cattle are used to perform the exercises - always without hurting any of the animals. The dog breeds that are most suitable to practice competitive herding or sheepdog trials are those classified in Group 1 by the FCI, that is, shepherd and cattle dogs.

5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active - Herding: Sheepdog Trials

Schutzhund: Protection Dogs

One of the oldest and most popular dog sports, Schutzhund requires concentration, effort and collaboration between the dog and handler. Initially, it was developed to try out German Shepherds to confirm whether individuals were fit or not to work.

Currently all dog breeds can practice Schutzhund, although the most common are the German and Belgian Shepherds, Giant Schnauzers, Boxers, Rottweilers, Dobermans and various shepherd and cattle dogs.

Schutzhund consists of three sections: obedience, tracking and protection. As you can see, this dog sport is intended to train guard dogs. In addition to training the dog to track you'll need to train the dog to attack only when strictly necessary. Schutzhund is only recommended for experienced handlers, as improper training could lead to an aggressive dog. It is also not the proper method to train police or rescue dogs.

Although Schutzhund is a dog sport, many people consider the dogs that practice it to be dangerous because they are trained to attack. However, practitioners have the opposite view and state that precisely because of their training Schutzhund dogs are safe and stable. As discussed, if the sport is properly practiced the purpose is to protect, not to attack.

5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active - Schutzhund: Protection Dogs

Agility: Obstacle Courses

Created in 1978 as entertainment in the intervals of the prestigious London dog show "Cruft's", agility soon became a new sport for dogs. Presently, dog agility is the most popular dog sport in the world. It is an obstacle course for dogs, and indeed its creator was a fan of equestrian events.

Dog agility involves preparing a track with a series of obstacles that the dog must overcome following the orders of the handler. The order of the tests is random, and the owner does not know what these are until minutes before the beginning of the exercise.

This dog sport is open to all breeds, regardless of the group they belong to or their size. Of course, it must be shown that the dog is not suffering from any disease or physical discomfort that may prevent it from carrying out the tests without injury. It is recommended that the participant be at least one year old and have its basic training internalized.

5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active - Agility: Obstacle Courses

Canine Freestyle: Dance with your Dog

Musical canine freestyle, or dog dancing, is one of the most recent and spectacular dog sports. Fascinating and captivating, it consists of presenting a choreographed sequence between dog and owner. It is one of the most difficult dog sports, as requires extreme creativity and skills.

Although one of the main objectives of musical canine freestyle is performing creative dance steps, some organizations such as the Federation of Canine Freestyle require the presence of a series of obligatory moves. Since each organization has its own list of required movements, we recommend that you check the rules of the competition in detail.

Nonetheless, the most commonly required steps in musical canine freestyle include:

  • Heeling: the dog walks stuck to the owner, regardless of position.
  • Front work: the dog moves in front of the owner, sitting, lying down, walking on two legs, etc.
  • Changes in step: the dog accelerates or slows down.
  • Walk backwards and to the sides.
  • Half turns and twists.
5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active - Canine Freestyle: Dance with your Dog

Canicross Training

In this dog sport owner and dog run together, joined by a strap attached to the waist of the owner, using a specific belt and the animal's harness. To carry out the activity it is essential that the dog wear a chest harness and not one for walking.

Although there are canicross circuits and championships, this canine sport can be practiced freely, in any forest, trail or road, without need for competing. Thus, not only will you have a good time with the dog but the bond between owner and pet will be reinforced. If you want to know more about this sport for dogs do not miss out on our article where we explain all about starting canicross training with your dog.

5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active - Canicross Training

Other dog sports

Although the 5 dog sports mentioned above are the most popular, they are not the only ones you can practice with your dog. Here are other sports for dogs you can consider:

  • Drafting
  • Flyball
  • Mushing
  • Messenger service
  • Skijöring
  • Obedience competition
  • Trickdogging
  • Dog frisbee
  • Mondioring

Have we left out any canine sport? Do you practice activities other than those mentioned? Leave your comment and we will be delighted to add your suggestion.

If you want to read similar articles to 5 Dog Sports: Ideas to Get Active, we recommend you visit our Sports category.

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