Dog Sports For Your Dog
Do you enjoy watching Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge? Have you seen the big diving dogs? The name of the sport where the Labrador Retrievers go leaping into the pool is actually called Dock Jumping. You don’t have to have a Labrador Retriever to compete. Any water-loving dog can take the leap. This “big splash” is lots of fun for dogs that love the water. Don’t feel bad if your dog can’t leap 20 feet after a training dummy. It’s all for fun and small dogs can splash, too. There are a number of local and regional clubs for the sport but there doesn’t seem to be a national governing body at this time.
If your dog loves to play Frisbee there is a sport for catching the flying disc. Disc Dog is fun and exciting for both dogs and spectators. Dogs have the fun of chasing and catching the disc and on-lookers can oooh and aaah over the spectacular catches. Mixed breeds and purebreds can both play. There are competitive trials for Disc Dog. They can span everything from accuracy and distance to freestyle and team trials. Several organizations hold tournaments in the United States including the Canine Frisbee Disc World Championship, Skyhoundz, the UFO World Cup Final, and the US Disc Dog Nationals.
Earthdog trials are a lot of fun for Terrier breeds and other dogs that love to “go to ground.” If you have a breed that was originally bred to hunt rats or other vermin then he probably loves to dig and hunt in the earth. If he’s born to rat then you may want to check out Earthdog events for him.
Earthdog events usually use tunnels that have been dug underground and which are supported by wooden sides. They have exits dug at the ends so the dog can be brought out when he finishes the course. The tunnels are laid with the scent of the dog’s natural prey (such as a rat) and the dog is turned loose to go in the tunnel and navigate his way around. (The prey is not in any danger during the test.) If your dog has natural earthdog instincts he will probably find these tests very fulfilling since they let him do what he was originally bred to do. AKC Earthdog trials offer titles for purebred dogs just as other AKC events do.
If you have a dog of a herding breed, such as a Border Collie or a Sheltie, then you may want to try them out in herding competitions. Herding dogs often have a natural instinct to herd and round up sheep, ducks, chickens, or anything else they can move around. If you’ve noticed this tendency in your dog then your dog may enjoy a herding trial. There are events ranging from basic instinct tests to advanced herding work. Events are offered by the American Kennel Club and by several breed organizations which seek to preserve herding instincts in working herding dogs.
Many people in the United States enjoy hunting with their dogs and the dogs enjoy it, too. Sporting dogs have been bred for at least 1000 years to hunt birds, while sighthounds such as Greyhounds have been used to hunt rabbits, small game and, in some cases, wolves, for over 4000 years. Scenthounds like Bloodhounds and their smaller cousins Foxhounds and Beagles have been used to hunt rabbits and small game for hundreds of years. The Bloodhound goes back to the time of the Roman Empire. With so much inborn instinct dogs like Pointers, Setters, Greyhounds and Beagles love to have a chance to do what they were bred to do.
If you have any interest in hunting you may wish to give your dog a chance to see what the real thing is like. The American Kennel Club and other field organizations offer various events for hunting dogs. The AKC has hunt tests which test a dog instinct (this leads to the Junior Hunter title), as well as offering Master Hunter and Senior Hunter titles. The Amateur Field Trial clubs of America also offers titles for hunting dogs.
The AKC also offers similar events and titles for lure coursing. The American Sighthound Field Association also offers events and titles. Lure coursing simulates hunting conditions for the sighthound breeds, usually by using a plastic lure on a fishing line for the dogs to chase. Coursing in field events is more like actual hunting since the dogs are allowed to chase real prey.