Dog sports with your canine companion can be an immensely satisfying experience. It’s an opportunity to keep your dog physically and mentally disabled and bond like no other by taking small (or large) steps toward success. From an outsider’s perspective, the competitive world of dog sports can be intimidating. Don’t worry: there are many ways to get started in a calm and relaxed environment.
All dogs are welcome
Dogs of all sizes and breeds, including mixed breeds, can take part in dog sports. I have two mixed breed dogs and we compete in several dog sports.
It’s not about a trophy
Participating in dog sports is a great way for you and your dog to build confidence, learn to trust each other, make new friends, and even exercise – all while strengthening your bond. Start the class and who knows? You may be participating in an organized competition.
Dog sports classes are offered at all levels from beginner to advanced in a local dog training club. Another great option is the “dog sports club” with an agility ring and courses that are integrated into a dog day care center or boarding house. Ask your veterinarian, trainer, dog handler, groomer, or local pet shop for a recommendation.
The right fit
Agility: If you have a bouncy dog who loves jumping, sign up for a beginner class. Even if you’re not envisioning a competition, both of you will have a lot of fun learning and jumping around.
Fragrance work: Dogs naturally love to sniff and use their noses – it’s their strongest sense, after all. The scent work really gives your dog a job he enjoys doing while building confidence at the same time. It’s also a great way for you to read your dog’s body language.
Trick training: I love trick training! It’s a favorite thing to do with my dogs.
There are plenty of trick tutorials online to get you started. And yes, as in all sports, there are titles and certificates to hang on the wall. I use trick training to build confidence. At home, my dogs work for dinner by performing tricks. When she visits therapy dogs, her tricks make so many faces smile.
Rally: If tricks aren’t your thing and you love obedience, check out rally. Rally is based on obedience. Unlike normal obedience, where a judge tells you what to do, when you rally you are walking on a course with signs telling you what to do. Think of it as an obstacle course for obedience behavior. You can practice rally every day when you are on your walks. Do you need additional help? There are courses for that too!