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Afghan Hound running after a lure in Fast CAT.
Mark Baer
Afghan Hound running after a lure in Fast CAT.

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Does your dog love to run? Then you may want to consider getting them involved in Fast CAT, which has nothing to do with cats. Using dogs’ natural inclination to run and chase, it’s a sport that all dogs get a kick out of, from Greyhounds to Pekingese.

What is Fast CAT?

The “CAT” in this sport stands for Coursing Ability Test. In Fast CAT competitions, dogs chase a lure in a straight line for a 100-yard sprint, going one at a time before their owners catch them at the end of the run. To compete in fast cat dogs must be at least 12 months of age. Dogs need either an AKC registration number to compete, or, in the case of All-American Dogs, an AKCCanine Partners registration number.

Fast CAT occurs in open areas, with fencing surrounding the area where the dog runs. Pets are chasing a “lure,” a white plastic bag attached to a line moving at high speeds. Simulating a small prey animal, the lure proves exciting to chase for most dogs, especially those with a high prey drive or natural desire to chase.

Fast CAT has no size requirements, is open to all dogs, and comes naturally to most. It is a perfect outdoor sport for dogs and owners who do not have a lot of sports experience. Unlike Rally or Agility, which require significant advanced training before your dog will be ready to compete, there is no need for intensive training in advance.

Dog chasing after a SwiftPaws lure.

How to Practice Fast CAT at Home

The point of the sport is for dogs to run as fast as they can while chasing the lure. Even if you do not have a lot of space at home, you can build your dog’s drive with tug and chase games. Working on enthusiastic recalls will also be helpful, as, while competing, pets will be running as fast as they can to their owners.

Want to get an edge up on the competition? If you have a large yard or access to an open, fenced space, you can take your practice to the next level with the  SwiftPaws Home Original or SwiftPaws Home Plus, which is capable of running a full-length practice Fast CAT course.

SwiftPaws is an American manufacturer of enrichment products for pets. Their pro-grade machines are used by a number of clubs for Fast CAT and they have also provided the lure coursing machines for the Fastest Dogs USA competition on ESPN.

This equipment allows you to create an at-home version of Fast CAT by setting up practice lure coursing runs, giving your dog the opportunity to have fun and chase a mechanical lure. This is also a great option if you live in a location without close access to Fast CAT events.

An excellent way to build drive and excitement and encourage chasing is to drag tug toys along the ground. Alternatively, use a flirt pole, a long rod, or handle with a rope at one end and a toy or lure attached to the other. When playing with the flirt pole, keep the lure along the ground to encourage your dog to chase and not jump. When changing directions, try to keep your movements fluid.

Depending on the size of your dog and the size of your home, you can play with a flirt pole outside in the yard or inside. Wherever you play, make sure your pet is on a supportive surface like carpeting or grass for good traction.

Getting Your Dog in Shape for Fast CAT

If you are interested in getting your dog involved with Fast CAT, consider starting by slowly increasing your dog’s exercise to improve their overall level of fitness. Fast CAT is a high-energy sport, and dogs should be fully grown and in good physical condition before running.

If your dog is not already involved in high-energy play or sports, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure your canine is cleared to participate in high-impact sports like Fast CAT. You can also start working on your dog’s core strength and overall condition at home to get them ready to run.

This article is sponsored by SwiftPaws®, a health & wellness lifestyle brand for pets. SwiftPaws is an American manufacturer with years of experience developing and operating professional-grade lure coursing equipment used by organizations worldwide. With the introduction of SwiftPaws Home and Home Plus, now pets everywhere are able to get the mental and physical enrichment they need right in their own backyard! At SwiftPaws, we believe pets deserve to live their very best lives & we make beautifully playful products to help them do just that!

Related article: Why Your Dog Needs a Routine at Every Stage of Life
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