There are many clubs and associations for dog lovers offering different kinds of activities and sports to get involved with. Many of these sports are great for developing a good bond with a canine pal. Plus, not only will they keep dogs fit, happy and entertained – they’re great fun for people too. Most clubs offer ‘fun’ classes for many dog sports such as obedience and agility. However, lots of people do find they get bitten by the bug and decide to have a go at competing. Read our Holidays4Dogs article for more information on dog sports and how to get started.
This is one of the major sports in the dog world and has been popular since the 1950’s. Though the majority of breeds partaking in this sport are collies and German shepherds, all sorts of other breeds and cross-breeds are capable of competing to a high standard. For people with high energy dogs, this is a good way to use up some physical and mental energy.
Dogs are tested for their abilities in heel-work, retrieve, send-away and scent exercises. It is a precise and technical sport and can take a lot of dedication and patience.
To get started you will need to find a good dog training club that caters for competitive style obedience. Fun dog shows are held across the country each summer and many run classes for starter, or beginner, obedience. For further information on the sport, follow the link.
Canine Freestyle (or ‘Dog Dancing’).
This is a very popular and fun activity to do with your dog. An agility show is held every year at Crufts dog show and is always a huge crowd-pleaser.
It involves similar moves taught in competitive obedience such as heel-work and turns. However, the sky is the limit with this sport and the only barrier is your imagination.
There are lots of UK training clubs dedicated to this activity. The Kennel Club provides information registered clubs.
Agility is a fast paced, high energy sport which many of the working breeds thoroughly enjoy. Again, there are many dedicated agility clubs up and down the country that welcome newcomers to this exciting, fast paced sport.
Dogs run a course, of anything up to twenty obstacles, against the clock. The dog with the fastest clear round is the winner. There are four different jump heights, so dogs of any size can join in. Dogs must be over a certain age before being eligible to train on some of the equipment. The British Agility Association provides a wealth of information on how to get started in this exciting sport.
Crowds really enjoy watching this lively team knock-out competition. Participating dogs run a length of hurdles to the fly-ball machine, hit the pad releasing the ball, catch it, then return before the next dog in the team runs. It’s fabulous entertainment and great fun. You can find out more from the British Flyball Association.
This is perhaps one of the more serious dog sports and generally caters for particular breeds such as German Shepherd/Belgian Shepherd dogs/Dobermans. Schutzhund is the German term for ‘protection dog’ and the exercises are designed to test the working dog’s temperament.
The tests can be quite demanding for both dog and handler and the sport requires a great deal of commitment. There are three sections; tracking, obedience and protection. Before a dog can compete in this sport it must pass a temperament test. This evaluates the dog’s behaviour around people, dogs, traffic and loud noises.
There are many clubs around the UK, however, they are often choosy about who they accept as members. Anyone hoping to join in order to teach their dog to be aggressive, is likely to be turned away. This is not the aim of the sport. The German Shepherd Dog League – Working Branch has some information regarding Schutzhund clubs.
Rally ‘O’ (or Rally Obedience).
There are quite a few dog training clubs UK wide who offer rally ‘O’ classes. Each dog and handler team negotiate a course around numbered signs. Each ‘station’ indicates a different exercise to perform. Exercises include sit, down, send over jump, left turn amongst others. It is much more informal than standard competitive obedience.
Handlers are allowed to interact with their dogs while moving briskly through the course. More information can be found here.
Gundog training is an ideal sport for shooting and hunting dogs such as Labradors, Spaniels and Pointers. However, it is not just for those wishing to work their dogs in the field; many clubs cater for owners of pet gundogs who want learn to control their dog outdoors by working through various tests and grades.
This can then lead to field tests which can either be non-competitive or competitive. There are many local clubs for gundog enthusiasts, especially in rural areas.
You can often enter your dog in fun ‘gundog scurries’ going on at country shows. This is where the fastest dog to retrieve a dummy, (sometimes over obstacles) is the winner. The UK Gundog Club has details of how to get started.
This lesser-known activity involves running your dog in harness in front of a bicycle, and it is not for the faint hearted. Huskies and other sled dogs do very well in this sport. Pointers are also a good breed for this sport and many bikjoring race competitors cross pointers with huskies to produce a very fast harness dog.
This is an ideal activity for high energy dogs. The dog runs in a special padded harness which is attached to a gang-line. The gang-line is attached to a bungee which clips to the front of the bicycle.
It is possible to buy converters to help keep the lines away from the bike wheel. Training the dog to be in the correct running position is a specialist skill and you must make sure that your dog is reasonably obedient before you start i.e. – will stop, or ‘leave’ on command.
There are a number of competitive bikejoring classes in the UK, but clubs are few and far between. You can find more information on clubs and associations here. There is also information on cani-cross and rig and scooter racing.
This is a sport for all dedicated whippet enthusiasts. It gives owners the chance to measure their dog’s speed against others, in a structured and organised environment, where safety is paramount.
Club racing is a friendly activity and caters for all standards. Dogs chase a dummy lure and not live game.
You can find more contacts and information by following the link.
These are just a handful of dog sports that owners can participate in with their pooches. There is certainly something for everyone and for every breed – you and your dog can even participate in yoga together!