Five More Fabulous Sports To Try With Your Dog

In the preceding article, we discussed flyball, carting, dock diving, Schutzhund and the CGC program as five great activities to try with your pet, no matter what his breed or age (within reason!). We think it’s vital to remember that any dog can be a sporting dog, if she and owner alike find it enjoyable. And, there are almost as many different dog events as there are types of dogs. Here are another fascinating five to check out.

Musical Canine Freestyle

Yes, this activity is all about people dancing with dogs. The sport ranges from freestyle heeling, in which a dog remains close to his trainer’s heel at all times, to an all-out creative dance routine in which human and dog have choreographed moves and tricks. In all cases, performances are done with music, and should follow the rhythm of that music to be successful. This activity relies on obedience, loyalty and hand signal commands. The first official musical freestyle group popped up in Canada in 1991, though the sport gained popularity quickly around the world. The Canine Freestyle Federation and the WCFO are good places to look for clubs or competitions, or to just learn a little more.

Disc Dog

Given the popularity of Ultimate (commonly called Ultimate Frisbee), an equally popular canine version of this sport was sure to emerge. The sport, based on the simple act of throwing a Frisbee for your dog, is easily accessible, often just a step or two beyond what you may already be doing with your pet in the backyard. Straightforward competitions involve ‘toss and fetch’ over increasing distances, while more complex freestyle events allow for choreographed routines, complete with music and tricks. There are a number of clubs around the country and organizations that host competitions. A comprehensive list can be found here, on the site of the Colorado Disc Dogs Club.

Dog Scouts of America

Modeled after the Boy/Girl Scouts, the DSA is kind of a catch-all of different activities. The nonprofit’s mission is to “educate the public about responsible dog ownership and the important role of the human/canine bond” (from their website). With the Dog Scouts your dog can learn any number of different sports, attend their camps, and earn badges for everything from sign language to camping. Check out this list of current and possible future troops around the country.

Therapy Dogs

For the less athletic, but still obedient and friendly, dogs, becoming a therapy dog is a great option. Therapy dogs, once certified, visit nursing homes, hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and other similar places, providing affection and comfort. There are many, many therapy dog organizations across the country. Most require that a dog first complete the Canine Good Citizen certification (click here for more information), and may have further qualifications. Check out one example of a therapy dog program in Philadelphia.

Earthdog Trials

This is the only sport on our list that is somewhat breed-specific. Earthdog is for terriers and Dachshunds, small breeds that are historically working dogs, but are often overlooked in modern dog sporting events. The American Working Terrier Association created the original Earthdog trials, and is more breed-inclusive than the AKC event. This event tests dogs’ working/hunting abilities. An Earthdog trial setup generally involves artificially constructed tunnels with quarry (typically a caged rat) placed somewhere inside. A dog demonstrates his ability to quickly find and “work” the quarry, which means continuously identifying its presence without any physical harm.

For those who missed our first article, we’re talking mostly about sports and activities that are all-inclusive and often not run by the AKC. Check back for updates!


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