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.
The first thing to know about the CAT is that – as with all of our tests – dogs do not compete against each other (as opposed to Field Trials where winners are chosen). Each dog runs individually and chases after an artificial lure on either a 300- or 600-yard long course. Your dog must finish in less 1 ½ minutes and 2 minutes, respectively. Because the course is for beginners, it is set up with safety in mind because we recognize that many of the dogs are new to the sport and might not possess the agility of an experienced sight hound.
But 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.
To compete, your dog must:
- Be 12 months or older
- Have an AKC number via one of the following:
- AKC Registration as one of the recognized breeds.
- AKC Canine Partners, which is for mixed-breed dogs and dogs ineligible for AKC registration.
- Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program, which is for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC to participate in AKC events.
- Foundation Stock Service®(FSS), which is for recorded breeds on the road to full AKC recognition.
- Spayed females and neutered males are eligible to participate but females in season are not.
- Blind dogs are not eligible.
- No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.
There’s not much you need to do to prepare for your first CAT besides get your dog in shape! You can also play with him often by giving him things to chase in your yard like plastic bags on a windy day, or toys and balls to run after. Just get him used to seeing something and chasing after it. As with all Coursing Ability Tests, the goal is not to harm any living animals so make sure you don’t encourage him to chase after any squirrels or other creatures running through your yard.
Your local AKC Club is the best place to find a CAT event in your area, or you can search for them here. To enter, you need to get an entry form from the club putting on the test, which is located in the premium list.
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