Best Sport for Your Dog - LUV My dogs

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Best Sport for Your Dog

   For some dogs, even regular long walks and access to a big backyard just aren't enough of a challenge. You want your pup to test their mental and physical prowess and allow them to have some fun. How can you do this? Dog sports!
  These days, the choices in dog sports and recreation are nearly endless. Dog sports are great options to keep active dogs both physically and mentally healthy. All dogs need some degree of exercise, but most will thrive with extra stimulation. Very active dogs are ideal candidates for high-performance sports like agility and flyball, though almost any healthy dog can enjoy participation.
  Be sure your dog has a thorough veterinary evaluation prior to starting any dog sport. Once your vet gives clearance, consider these top dog sports that can challenge your dog's mind and body while reinforcing the canine-human bond.

    Is your dog incredibly fit and great with taking commands? If so, dog agility training can be incredibly rewarding for both you and the pup in question.
  Canine agility is a competitive dog sport that takes place within an obstacle course. Dogs are trained to make jumps, travel through tunnels, and navigate various walkways - all in a specific order. Each step of the way, the dogs are directed by their owners.
  Agility is an excellent form of exercise and mental stimulation, making it ideal for high energy dogs like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. However, just about any dog can participate in agility. The intensity and difficulty of the course can be altered to accommodate dogs with health complications or special needs. Teamwork between dog and human is the cornerstone of this sport.

Best for: Top breeds for agility training include Jack Russell terriers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, Shetland sheepdogs, Border collies, and Australian shepherds, but the most important factors are that your dog has lots of energy, a desire to please, and is physically active.

 Canine Freestyle
  Canine Freestyle is a choreographed musical performance by a dog/handler team. Like it sounds, this activity is like dancing with a dog! As implied by its name, in canine freestyle almost anything goes. Basically, any move is allowed unless it puts the dog or handler in danger. Routines typically involve the dog performing twists & turns, weaving through the handler's legs, walking backwards, jumping, and moving in sync with the handler.
  Canine Freestyle requires a deep bond between handler and dog as well as a mastery of basic commands - especially "heel." Before putting a routine together, the dog must first learn each individual "move." A dash of creativity, plenty of patience and a positive attitude will go a long way.

Music Heelwork
  You’ve heard of this. You just don’t know it because most people call it dog dancing. Open to canines of any breed, Heelwork requires fantastic coordination and communication for owners and their dogs to dance naturally together. Many people practice routines for several months before taking an act to a competition, and some even incorporate costumes.

  Best for: One of the best things about Heelwork to music is that dogs of any breed can participate, as can those at various levels of physical prowess. More physically fit dogs don’t necessarily have an advantage, because owners can tailor routines to their dog’s strengths. That being said, Heelwork is best for dogs who are well-trained and remain completely under their owner’s control even while off-leash. If your dog hasn’t received any kind of obedience training yet, you’ll need to provide that first.

Disc Dogs
  During disc dog competitions, dog/handler teams are judged in disc-throwing events like distance/accuracy catching and freestyle routines. "Frisbee" is a trademarked brand name for a flying disc, hence the reason the word "disc" is often used.
  To become a successful disc dog team, the handler must be able to properly throw a disc - and far. The dog can then be trained to chase and catch the disc. During distance competition, the field is broken into zones by yard. Scoring is based on the zone in which the disc is caught. Freestyle events are judged and scored based on a predetermined point system. Rules and scoring vary with each disc dog group, club or association.

  You probably have noticed that your dog's nose is his most dominant sense. Most dogs want to follow their noses. Why not turn this talent into a fun and challenging activity?
  A tracking trial is a type of test that requires a dog to follow a scent trail. These events mimic search-and-rescue missions, assessing the dog's natural ability and willingness to follow a trail left by human footsteps. Dogs and their handlers often enjoy this work, and success can open doors to pursue real life search-and-rescue work.

Splash Dogs

  You can probably guess much of what this sport entails — dogs are enticed to jump into the water from a ramp to retrieve a toy. Whichever one jumps the farthest is the winner. It’s provides a fantastic workout, because swimming forces dogs to use muscles they otherwise wouldn’t.

  Best for: Water breeds, like Newfoundland, Irish setter, or English setter. But any dog that loves water will enjoy it.

Rally Obedience
  In Rally Obedience, dog/handler teams must complete a course made up of signs describing specific obedience exercises to perform. Judges design the course and observe as the teams swiftly navigate the course.
  Rally Obedience rules tend to be less strict than traditional obedience competitions. Typically, Rally competition is open to all breeds. Trials usually have several levels, and teams compete for titles and championships.

  People with tiny terriers should definitely try Earthdog if they’re looking for a fun and productive way to direct their dog’s desire to dig. Competitors are taken out into the field and tasked with finding and digging out rats (most commonly) that have been buried in a completely safe cage or artificial quarry. But only small terriers are allowed, so don’t even try with larger breeds.

  Best for: The American Kennel Club (or AKC) has a long list of the specific types of breeds that are eligible for Earthdog events. But you should be aware that your terrier has to be six months or older and cannot be a mixed breed. Short-legged, high-energy dogs are best suited to this sport.

Lure Coursing
  Lure coursing is a fast-paced chase sport that was developed as an alternative to hare coursing. Rather than chasing a live animal, dogs chase an artificial lure across a field, compete for best time. Sometimes, obstacles are involved in the race. While traditionally limited to sighthounds, all-breed lure coursing groups are becoming more common. Lure coursing is an ideal activity to allow your dog to act upon his chasing instinct in a safe, humane way.

  The sport of flyball is a type of relay race that involves teams of four dogs. One dog from each team runs down a course, jumping hurdles, towards the "flyball box." The dog steps on a panel and triggers the flyball box to release a tennis ball. The dog then brings the ball back over the hurdles to its handler. Once a dog has completed the course, the next dog is released from the starting line. The first team to have all four dogs complete the course wins. The game is played in several heats. Flyball is a great way for your dog to enjoy time with other dogs, plus a nice way for you to meet other dog owners.

Once you've chosen your sport, start working.
  Research your sport! Research sources include the internet, books, instructional videos, and dog owners experienced in the sport.
  Train your dog. Start with basic training, (if you haven't already) and then start training for your particular sport. Training techniques vary, based on the sport. Ask your local kennel club or someone who is experienced in the sport if you need help. Practice frequently!

  Get competitive! Once you think your dog is ready, enter a competition. Look for a competition being held. You may have to travel; have good traveling equipment at hand.

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