Dog sports are a fantastic way to keep your dog (and you!) in great shape. Fun dog sports can test your pet pup’s speed, strength, stamina, and agility, as well as their intelligence and obedience.
From dock diving to flyball, there are a lot of unique and sometimes mad dog sports to try out. With a bit of practice and dog training, your dog could even start entering dog competitions and canine performance events to show off their newfound skills!
In this article, we take a look at the most popular dog sports out there to inspire you and your pooch to stay active!
What breeds are best for dog sports?
Active dog breeds are the best types of dogs for taking on sports and outdoor activities. The best breeds are intelligent, obedient, active, fast, agile, and strong. They love running around, playing with other dogs, and performing in public, too!
Many of the most sporty dogs are dogs that have been bred for work. These include farm dogs, guide dogs, and service dogs.
There are several types of dog breed that are often sought after for their sporting prowess, including the following:
- German Shepherd
- Australian Cattle Dog
- The Mutt
- Alaskan Malamute
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Border Collie
- Golden Retriever
- Portuguese Water Dog
Of course, it’s not only the breeding that counts. Sport dogs have to love the activities they are taking part in, or like humans, they just won’t be interested. You as an owner also have to have an interest in the sport your dog is playing, as you’ll be as much a part of their training and events as they are!
Different types of sports for dogs
Dogs can benefit greatly from regular sporting activities. Not only is sport a fantastic way to train your pet and to teach them to follow commands, but it’s a great opportunity for them to stay in shape (physically and mentally). As a bonus, some of the sports below even require some adorable dog sports gear or dog sports clothes for the competitors!
Here are the best dog sports to try out with your four-legged friend:
Agility is a classic dog sport that puts the agility and stamina of a dog to the test. Agility courses involve obstacles, including fences, tunnels, and jumps. Your dog has to successfully navigate their way through the course in the fastest time possible.
This isn’t just an event for the dog, though, because agility events also require the owner to be on hand. The idea is that the owner directs the dog through the course, using hand signals, verbal commands, and whistles.
It takes teamwork and training to work, but it’s an incredibly rewarding sport to be part of. Start training your dog for agility sports at home, using a simple bed ramp for dogs and homemade obstacles!
Canine freestyle is one of the quirkier events you can take part in with your dog because canine freestyle is a dance-off!
This is freestyle dog-dancing to freestyle music, and it’s high energy and action-packed. Dog and owner dance together, with the owner creating dance routines based on individual commands and hand signals.
Train your dog, so they know multiple moves, then freestyle when the music begins!
A conformation is otherwise known as a dog show - in fact, that’s the term you’re more likely to see and hear amongst dog owners.
You may have seen a dog conformation on the television because these are prestigious and professional events. There are championships, leagues, and even international events. Owners can try and work their way through the ranks, and take titles and make wins with their dog.
Conformations are sort of like beauty competitions. Dogs are scored by the judges on how closely they conform to the ideal look, style, and shape of their particular breed. For the owner, it’s about grooming and teaching obedience. For the dog, it’s all about being able to show off!
Disc dog competitions are great fun for everyone - for the dog, for the owner, and for the spectators!
Disc dog is otherwise known as dog frisbee, and it takes skill, speed, and endurance to excel at. The human owner will throw the frisbee, and the dog is expected to catch it.
Sounds simple, but dogs and owners score points based on the distance thrown and caught and other categories, such as ‘freestyling’.
Dock jumping, or dock diving, is an incredibly fun sport to watch - and for the dog, it’s great fun to be part of!
The rules are simple, a dog takes a running jump, and they dive into the water (usually a swimming pool!). The dog that can jump the farthest distance is the winner.
Dock jumping requires strength and courage from the dog making the dive, and the owner often trains the dog by using tennis balls. They throw a ball into the swimming pool, and the dog goes in after it.
Dog jumping has become incredibly popular in recent years, with national and even international clubs and organizations holding large competitions and events with standardized rules for the sport.
Flyball is a fast-paced and action-packed sport that pits teams of dogs against each other in relays. Teams of four dogs race to be the first to cross the finishing line, so the sport takes speed and stamina, as well as cooperation and training.
A line of four hurdles is set up, and the dog has to jump over each one before then jumping on a box. Jumping on the box releases a tennis ball, which the dog has to catch, before racing back over the hurdles again. The next dog is released when they return, and so on until all the team members have raced.
Herding trials are a competitive form of sheep herding, in which working dogs and their owners show off their skills!
Herding trials use real sheep and real enclosures, making this an exciting event to watch as a spectator. The handlers have to demonstrate their ability to control their dog to herd the sheep, while the dog needs to show its obedience and work ethic in order to win.
There can be multiple elements to an event, including rounding sheep up and moving them into a pen or retrieving ‘stray’ sheep that have been separated from the flock. There’s a time limit, and judges score points based on the dog’s success and style.
Lure coursing is a sport that’s popular with sighthounds (such as greyhounds and whippets). Dogs chase a mechanically operated ‘lure’ across an open field, using their hunting instincts (primarily sight) to chase down the lure.
Lure chasing involves turns, too, which are designed to simulate the conditions faced when hunting down prey.
Dogs are judged on their overall performance, including speed, endurance, and intelligence when chasing the lure.
Tracking trials require a dog to use their nose, rather than their sight, in order to follow and track a particular scent from one location to another accompanied by their owner.
Tracking trials are used to train working dogs, as well as being a lot of fun. The scenario is similar to one that would be encountered by a search and rescue dog, for instance.
Dog sports: which will you try?
Whether it’s flyball or canine freestyle, dog sports are an excellent way for both the dog and its owner to have fun and stay in shape!
If you’re looking to try a few new activities or a new hobby to take on with your pet, then why not bookmark our guide to dog sports?