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 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 things for treats, you’re almost certain to find a sport you both enjoy. These sports are open to all registered breeds and mixed breeds, as well, 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.
- 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. There are levels of obedience, from the novice to the champion, and in order to compete at some of these levels, the dog has to have completed certain prerequisites. Exercises include sit, stand, come when called, retrieve, jumping over hurdles, and more!
- Rally – Rally is another fun sport based on obedience, but it has a time aspect, as well. You and your dog will earn points for completing the exercises correctly, but when there’s a tie, the fastest team wins. In rally, there are signs at every station that tell you what your exercise will be. The exercises and the 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.
- Agility – Agility is a very exciting sport that showcases what our dogs are capable of. It requires that they 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 come 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.
- Coursing Ability Tests – Although the sport of lure coursing itself is limited to sighthounds, any dog can enter a coursing ability test. There are titles offered through these tests, just like the other performance venues listed here. In a coursing ability test, your dog will run a specified course while chasing a lure. After doing this a number of times with enthusiasm, without interruption, and within a stated maximum amount of time (this varies depending on the level title you’re working towards), your dog will receive his coursing ability title. 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.
- Tracking – Tracking is one of the oldest performance sports, and it’s based on our dogs’ incredible scenting ability. A dog’s nose is roughly one million times more sensitive then 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 AKC tracking, your dog will follow a scent trail and find articles along the way. Dogs love the training, and each and every dog is capable of doing it, as they all have the world-renowned dog nose. It’s a lot of fun and exciting to watch if you love seeing dogs work using their very basic instincts, regardless of breed or origin. The exercises and the skill levels are similar to those in obedience, except you may verbally communication with your dog throughout the course.