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Lhaso Apso running through weave poles outdoors.
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For many, summer means longer days, no school, vacation, and more time to spend with your pup. This summer, why not try out a new dog sport? There are many activities you and your dog can try out both in the comfort of the air conditioning or in the great outdoors.

Why Try a New Dog Sport?

Dogs are capable of doing some really amazing things. Having lived alongside humans for thousands of years, our canine companions thoroughly enjoy working and playing with us. The tasks and tricks we can teach our dogs to perform through clear, fun communication are essentially limitless. In addition to going for walks, enjoying car rides, or even going on a nice camping trip, there are many different sports we can try with our dogs. Whether your dog is extremely active or just likes to do fun tricks for treats, you’re almost certain to find a sport you both enjoy.

These sports are open to all registered dogs — both purebred dogs and mixed breeds (as long as they are registered through the AKC Canine Partners program.) All of these sports offer the unique opportunity to have fun with your dog and explore his amazing capabilities.

1. Obedience

On the hottest days of summer, one of the best places to be is inside with the air on full blast. What better way to pass the time and stay cool than practicing obedience? Obedience might sound like the mundane work you do with your puppy or new dog, but it can actually be a lot of fun and very competitive. Obedience work helps your dog become a better member of society (not to mention easier to live with at home), and it allows him to get mental and physical exercise. Exercises include sit, stand, come when called, retrieve, jumping over hurdles, and more!


2. Rally

AKC Rally is another fun sport based on obedience. You and your dog navigate a course, side-by-side, as you steer him through 10-20 different signs. Each of these signs provides instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. You and your dog will earn points for completing the exercises correctly. The exercises and skill levels are similar to those in obedience. Rally is a very fun sport that challenges your dog’s brain and body, and you are likely to find that your dog loves training for it.


3. Agility

Agility is a very exciting sport that showcases what our dogs are capable of. The fast-paced sport requires that dogs work their minds and bodies at a fast pace, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they can make technical maneuvers. Agility training is a lot of fun for dogs that love learning new tricks and being active, and any breed is welcome to try it out. Even if you don’t want to be the next championship team, you can go out and have fun with your dog in the field. The agility course includes a wide range of obstacles, and when trained properly with positive reinforcement, dogs typically can’t wait for agility class.

Kromfohrlander leaping over a horizontal agility pole.

4. Coursing Ability Tests

Want an easy, low-stress way to get involved in the world of dog sports? Start with a Coursing Ability Test (CAT) because it is designed specifically for newcomers. In a coursing ability test, your dog will run a specified course while chasing a lure. If your dog likes chasing things and running, this sport is a great way for her to get out and stretch her legs. There’s really no training involved; just head out to the next test near you and see if your dog enjoys it. Don’t worry about being judged: Dogs only earn a pass/fail, and the maximum time is not meant to be difficult to achieve. Yes, your dog will need to run, not walk, to earn a passing grade. But even if he doesn’t do his best, don’t worry! Think of it as just a fun day out for both of you to meet other dogs and dog lovers.

lure coursing

5. Scent Work

Scent Work is one of the newest sports, and it’s based on our dogs’ incredible sense of smell. A dog’s nose is roughly one million times more sensitive than ours, and we’ve been using dogs to locate and follow scents for many years. Hunting dogs will find quarry; search and rescue dogs find lost victims; law enforcement and military working dogs find drugs, weapons, and explosives; and some dogs are even used to locate cancers and other illnesses in humans. In so many dog sports the handler is in control but this isn’t true in Scent Work. Neither the dog nor handler knows where the target odor is hidden. The handler has to rely on the dog and follow the dog’s nose to success. In Scent Work, it is the canine who is the star of the show.

Keep Your Dog Cool at Summer Dog Events

Before you head to an outdoor event, prepare ahead of time to keep your dog comfortable. If you want to see what it’s like for our dogs in hot weather, the next time it’s 90-plus degrees, put on your warmest coat and go outside. Now try running.

With thoughtful preparation following these guidelines, you can keep your dog cool, comfortable and healthy during summer events. The most important thing is that you and your dog stay safe and have fun!

Get started by finding an event near you.
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Agility for Beginners E-book

Are you looking for a fun new activity for you and your dog? Agility may just be the perfect option. In the “Agility for Beginners” e-book you will learn everything you need to know to get started.
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