Over the last fifty years, the dog-sport world has undergone some massive changes. It used to be that the only recognized sports were confirmation (breed showing), obedience, herding trials and hunting field trials. In most of these venues, dogs were required to be purebred, registered, and some sports were limited to specific breeds. It is a completely different ballgame in the world of dog sports today. There are sports and activities available to all breeds, all mixes, and a few are even available to dogs with certain disabilities.
One of the fastest growing canine sports is agility. It has grown so much in popularity over the last 20 years that it is now even featured on some programs on ESPN! The most common agility game is all about completing a series of obstacles in a specific sequence
Another sport that has grown significantly in recent years is Rally-Obedience, or Rally-O. Rally-O is a more interactive and relaxed version of typical obedience. Dog and handler teams follow a course of various exercises like sit, down, walk a figure 8, and weave through cones. During trials, a judge in the ring evaluates how well the team does on the exercises. What makes it so different from traditional obedience is that handlers can talk to their dogs the whole time and encourage or praise them.
Two newcomers to the canine sports world in the U.S. are K9 Nosework and Treibball. K9 Nosework is a sport of scent detection that nearly any dog can participate in successfully. Dogs learn to find food hidden in boxes and around the search area and in advanced levels learn to find specific scents hidden. Treibball is a new sport developed in Germany that translates to “Ball Driving.” Dogs use their nose or chest to push a “herd” of exercise balls into a goal. They must demonstrate the ability to perform some behaviors derived from traditional herding.
These are only a few of the sports available today. Here are some other fun and popular sports: canine Frisbee, dock diving, flyball, tracking, weight pull, urban mushing, lure coursing, earthdog trials, and musical freestyle.
There is no shortage of things to do with your dog and luckily, at the WPHS Get Smart Training Center, we offer an ever-growing list of canine sports classes. We offer a range of agility classes, a rally-o class, a treibball class, and occasionally musical freestyle. We even offer a class where you get to try out a few of the sports before committing to one! Our Sports and Games class allows students to tryout agility, rally-o, and nosegames all in one class. Check our website for the most up to date class listing http://www.wpahumane.org/agilityrally.html
By Tena Parker