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Dog Sports – Fun Sports For Your Dog

Want a great way of keeping fit, have fun and keep your dog physically and mentally engaged? You definitely need to try dog sports.  All dogs need exercise and stimulation. Highly active dogs are perfect for high-performance sports like flyball, and agility, but most healthy dogs can enjoy the games.  So that being said, all dogs can enjoy

There are many options when it comes to recreation and dog sports.  You should get your dog cleared by your veterinarian first before starting a dog sport.  After your dog has been cleared by your vet, you should look into these popular dog sports that will reinforce the bond between you and your dog, and will also challenge your dog’s body and mind. 


Flyball is a popular dog sport
Flyball is a popular dog sport

What is flyball?  Flyball is a type of relay race that involves teams of four dogs.  Each dog from a team runs, in relay fashion, down a course, jumping hurdles as they race towards the flyball box.  The flyball box, once triggered by the dog, releases a tennis ball that the dog must retrieve before returning over the jumps back to the handler.  Once a dog has completed the course, the next dog is released from the starting line. Finally, the first team to have all four dogs complete the course wins. The game is played in several heats. 

This game is best for team players, and dogs that have no people or dog aggression.  Most dogs that play this game are medium-sized dogs, but this does not mean that small or larger dogs cannot play.  As long as the dog is in good physical health, then it will do just fine. 

Flyball is an excellent way for your dog to have fun with other dogs, as well as a way to meet dog owners and new friends.

Herding Trials

Dog herding sheep
Dog herding sheep

This sport allows herding dogs to engage in instinctual behavior.  Herding dogs help ranchers and farmers manage their livestock by sorting and gathering animals.  Herding trials mirror the work herding dogs would do on a ranch or farm. During the herding trials, the handlers will give their dogs commands and allow the dogs to herd sheep, ducks, goats, turkeys, and cattle.  

Herding sport requires a lot more investment than other dog sports.  You have to own a herding dog, herding livestock, a suitable location for practicing and a trainer. 

The weather also comes into play with the dog sport.  There really is no option to play this sport indoors, so participants must work around the weather.  Florida has herding trials September -May, breaking in the hot summer months to avoid the heat.  

Rally Obedience 

Dogs waiting for a  command from their handler
Dogs waiting for a command from their handler

With rally obedience, dogs of all breeds and their owners complete a course made up of signs describing specific obedience exercises to perform while they are observed by judges.

The rules for rally obedience are less strict than traditional obedience competitions.  All breeds are welcome to rally obedience. There are usually several levels, and all the teams compete for titles. 

Lure Coursing

Dogs in a race
Dogs in a race

What is lure coursing?  Well, it is an alternative to hare coursing.  Rather than chasing a live animal, the dogs will chase an artificial lure across a field to compete for the best time.  This is an excellent activity to allow your dog to act on the chase instinct in a safe, humane way. Lure coursing has both trials and tests.  Trials are for sighthounds. Dogs run head to head and are categorically evaluated against one another. All breeds can compete in the tests, are becoming more popular.  

For people that are just getting into lure coursing, you don’t need a lot of equipment.  Your dog needs to be in good shape for running before getting started with this dog sport.  Handlers will need a slip-lead which is a special lead used to release a coursing hound quickly, and you will need a set of colored jackets or blankets which will allow for the dogs to be identified from a long distance. 

The most rewarding part of this sport is seeing your dog enjoy its self while doing what comes naturally to them.   Lure coursing will have the dogs come off the field happily tired, satisfied and ready to do all over again. 


Tracking is a dog sport
Tracking is a dog sport

Did you know that smell is a dog’s strongest sense?  Dogs have been trained to use their noses to track things down like lost people, belongings, explosives, drugs and prey.  The dog sport tracking mirrors search and rescue missions while assessing the dog’s ability and willingness to follow trails left by humans. 

All breeds can participate in tracking. Tracking tests do not have to rely on the weather or terrain, so you and your dog can play anytime.  

For beginners, the surfaces are as varied and most of the tracks are shorter.  When you get into the higher levels, the tracks can be quite long and the terrain tricky, for example, through standing water, high grass, over logs.

Tracking is one of the most difficult dog sport because it requires an enormous amount of patience, observation skills on the dog’s handlers part.  You must also be in tune with your dog’s body language. 


Dog running through an agility course
Dog running through an agility course

The agility dog sport takes place on an obstacle course.  Dogs are highly trained to travel through tunnels, navigate varied walkways, and make jumps.  These are done in a specific order. Dogs are led by their owners each step of the way. Effective communication between dog and handler is key.

This dog sport is a great form of mental stimulation and exercise, which makes it ideal for highly active and energy dogs like the Australian Shepherds.  But, just about any dog breed can participate as long as it is healthy. A dog with limitations or special needs will have their own course that is altered to accommodate them.  Excellent teamwork between human and dog is needed for this dog sport. 

Disc Throwing

Dog catching a disc
Dog catching a disc

This dog sport is pretty much like playing frisbee with your dog,  but it is an actual competition. Dogs and their handlers are judged based on the distance and accuracy of the disc throw and catch routines.  The field is divided into zones by yard. Scoring is base on the zone that the disc is caught in.

In order to be a successful disc dog team, the dog’s handler must be able to throw a disc properly by controlling the direction and distance. Once the disc is thrown properly, then the dog can be trained for the sport which includes chasing and catching the disc. 

Dogs like Australian Shepherds and  Border Collies excel at disc throwing because they are high energy dogs.

Dock Jumping 

Dog jumping into water
Dog jumping into water

Also known as dock diving, dock jumping is another competitive dog sport where dogs jump from a dock into water with the intention of achieving great height or distances. Dock jumping is close to high jump or long jump, but hitting water not the ground.  The Labrador Retriever is one of the best dogs for this dog sport because they are high-energy dogs and love water. 

In distance jumping the owners throws a toy off of the dock as far as they can to get the dog to jump as far away as possible. Distance is measured at the place where the tail base meets the water.

In Vertical jump, a bumper is placed at a certain height.  Once competing dogs reach the bumper, the height is then recorded and the bumper is moved up.  The winner is the dog that reached the highest bumper.

Canine Freestyle Is A Dog Sport

Dog in costume for musical freestyle
Dog in costume for musical freestyle

This dog sport is a choreographed musical performance performed by a dog and its handler.  Yes, that is right, this dog sport is basically a dance-off! How cute and fun does that sound?.  Any move is allowed as long as it does not jeopardize the safety of the owner and dog.

The common routines are dogs turning and twisting, weaving through the owner’s legs, jumping, walking backward as well as moving in sync with its owner.

While a deep bond between dog and owner is essential. this dog sport also requires an enormous amount of patience and a happy, positive attitude.


 As you can see, there are many dog sports out there for all types of breeds. Dog sports are a great way to bond with your dog and most certainly have a lot of fun. Furthermore, dog sports are an excellent way to keep your dog mentally and physically healthy. Remember to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian before you start any dog sports. Now get out there and try some dog sports!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get my dog a lifejacket for Dock Jumping? My dog is not a good swimmer.

Yes, there are dog lifejackets that you can purchase for your dog. You can find these online and also at your local pet shop.

Is Dog Showing A Dog Sport?

No, Dog showing is considered more of an even than an actual dog sport.

Do Dogs Enjoy Agility Training?

Yes! Most energetic dogs love agility training because it provides them with an outlet to channel their excess energy and challenges their minds.


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