Agility & Sports

Get in the Game!

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Some dogs are happy to hang out at home, play weekend warrior with their kids, or fetch a ball. Others thrive with a J-O-B. Thanks to the growing popularity of dog sports, there are options suited to various interests (yours and your dog’s), what a pooch is physically and emotionally up for, and more. Whether you and your dog are in it to win it or just love fresh air and exercise, there’s something for everyone. And the only real requirement is that it’s fun for you both.

What are dog sports?

Essentially, just structured play with your dog! Following are some of the most popular, organized activities.

Agility

•     High speed, high energy.

•     Obstacle courses have weave poles, various jumps, a-frames, teeter-totters, and tunnels.

•     Precision, athleticism, challenge, and communication make this a favorite of many sizes and breeds of dog and other species (even rabbits!).

Rally

•     All energies, precise but not necessarily full-speed-ahead.

•     Combines obedience skills with the human/animal bond.

•     Numbered courses outline the path the team will take to join semi-complicated tricks with obedience maneuvers. 

Freestyle

•     Medium energy, moderate speed.

•     Pairs creative expression with dog training.

•     When routines are combined with music, it’s a great spectator sport as well. It’s harmony in motion when dog and handler execute their parts together, separately, and in time to a song.

Nose Work

•     All energies and speeds, all temperaments.

•     Inspired by the work of drug- and bomb-detection dogs.

•     Uses dogs’ super-powered sense of smell to take in reams of knowledge with a single sniff.

•     It’s truly a sport for all dogs. Since they work independently on leash, dogs with temperament challenges and even physical limitations can still find joy.

Truffle Hunting

•     Medium to high energy, medium speed.

•     Using a dog’s 300 million olfactory receptors to seek tasty “diamonds of the kitchen.”

•     Truffle hunting is a challenging, nature-loving activity especially popular in the Northwest.

Treiball

•     Medium and high energy, medium speed.

•     The popular sport of herding large, inflated balls. This is a timed strategy game where dog and handler must work together to net the balls while keeping them within set boundaries — and not popping a ball!

•     Timed, strategic, loads of fun.

Joring

•     High energy, high speed.

•     Fitted with a harness, dogs are trained to pull their partner — on a scooter, a bike, or cross-country skis!

•    Challenging, requires coordination between dog and human, and awesome for outdoor adventurers!

Obedience

•     All energies, medium speed.

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•     A true team and bonding sport that requires patience and creativity, making it also fun to watch.

•    This takes basic dog class to a whole new level: retrieving, jumping, heeling, sits, downs, and so much more!

Trick Dog

•     Medium energy, all speeds.

•     Random, fun, CREATIVE. This is a way to turn your dog’s favorite “party tricks” into titles, accolades, or more.

•    Many dogs you see in movies, TV, and print media started as trick dogs. If your dog really digs being a trickster, you could have the makings of the next Marmaduke.

Earthdog

•     Medium energy, medium speed.

•     This sport uses a dog’s natural drive for exploring intriguing smells and critters underground.

•    Events use actual rodents who are safely caged and not harmed. In fact, the rodents are often part of the team, owned and loved by those who share their homes with Terriers and Dachshunds who excel at this game.

Barn Hunt

•     Medium energy and speed.

•     Similar to Earthdog but for all breeds, big and small.

•     Instead of going underground, dogs climb on, over, and under bales of straw to find (safely caged) rodents. They must learn to distinguish between containers with and without critters inside.

•    Rapidly growing, easy to practice and play.

With so many activities to choose from, you and your sport-loving dog can sample different kinds until you find those you both love. Whether for trophies or just for fun, sports deepen the love, relationship, and bond between human and dog.  

Resources

Agility * PortlandAgilityClub.org

Rally * akc.org/events/rally

Freestyle * canine-freestyle.org

National Association of Scent Work * nacsw.net

Truffle Hunting * TruffleDogCompany.com 

Obedience * BaeBeasDogTraining.com

Barn Hunt * BarnHunt.com 

Trieball * AmericanTreiballAssociation.org