We all love dogs, and if you don’t then you need a pretty good reason not to! For the lovers of the four-legged friend, there are lots of ways they can stay entertained and fit as a fiddle. I love watching dogs having a good time. So, if you have a pooch of your own, or you’re planning on getting one, then have a browse over my handful of cool sports you can get your dog into – they’re sure to love it (depending on the breed of course!).
This sport was officially introduced in the 1970s as a competitive sport, although I’m sure you’ll know plenty of folks who’ve been slinging a Frisbee about for their dog long before that.
Basically, disc-dog competitions challenge handler and dog to be the best at throwing and catching flying discs. The competition is generally divided into two competitions; “toss-and-fetch” and “freestyle”. For toss-and-fetch, competitors have one minute to throw as many discs as possible over set distances that get longer after each successful throw. Points are chalked up for accuracy and number of catches the dog makes. For the freestyle event, the handler and dog work in unison, often with music, and create a pre-choreographed routine that highlights their ability in terms of agility, style, and fast catches.
Any breed of dog can participate in disc dog as long as it can move quickly and enjoys catching discs. This leaves out my British Bulldog, who looks with utter disgust if you toss something for him to fetch!
My old dog, who was a Border Collie, would have been the king of this discipline! Dogs like him, who love nothing more than to run (and chase tennis balls), have the potential to be top notch flyball competitors.
It’s a canine relay race where dogs are broken into teams of four that must jump over a series of hurdles to retrieve a tennis ball released from a box as soon as the dog steps on a pad. Once one dog retrieves the ball and returns to the starting gate, the next dog is free to take their turn.
Any type of dog can participate in flyball, although popular breeds to participate include border collies, Jack Russell terriers, Australian shepherds, and whippets.
Agility is a discipline that is super tricky and demands plenty of training. I know someone whose dog competes, and the training and hard work they put in to get it right is nothing short of amazing.
Agility requires your dog to run through a complicated obstacle course. Dogs are judged on the speed and accuracy of their run, and the handlers are only allowed to guide their dogs using voice and hand signals. The obstacles on the course include hurdles, weave poles, tunnels, seesaw, and pyramids. You’ve probably seen it on Crufts at some point?
Again, this is another sport that any dog can compete in, and agility keeps your dog’s mind and body in top form; they’ll be fit as a fiddle if they practise this sport, and so will you!
A fun one to watch, dock diving was introduced as a sport two decades ago, in 1997. It’s essentially a really exciting aquatic sport that sees dogs compete to see which one can jump the farthest into a pool of water from an elevated platform or dock. What’s not to love about seeing that?
All dogs can get involved, although it’s usually the Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Belgian Malinois that challenge for the top spots. In fact, Baxter, a Belgian Malinois, once jumped 29 feet 11 inches on the David Letterman show in 2011!
Having to move a small flock of sheep through an obstacle course at a sheepdog trial is up there with the hardest challenge a dog will have to deal with.
Based on and built from genuine, real-life farm work, each dog has to move sheep around obstacles, over bridges, and finally into a pen. When dogs compete in the more advanced trials, they also have to separate their flock of sheep into smaller groups, not just keep one lot altogether. This is known in the game as “shedding,” and is one of the trickiest things a sheepdog has to do during the trials.
Sheepdog trials were originally set up as a way of the shepherds showing off their working dog’s prime skills to each other, but now sheepdog trials are held all over the world, being enjoyed by everyone!
One of the best things about this sport, if you own a herding breed such as a border collie, Australian shepherd, rough collie, corgi, or bearded collie, is that it gives them the perfect level of physical and mental exercise they need to stop them getting bored. It also helps them to hone their natural herding instincts.