Many of us have dogs that need to do more than just lazing around all day. There are many dog sports out there that can help us teach our dogs new things and get a little exercise while doing it. Here is a brief description of several sports that you can choose from.

A timed course with a variety of obstacle that your dog must do in a predetermined order. The obstacles are jumps, catwalks, teeters, tunnels, A-frames, and more. There are several different variations of titles, rules, and obstacles among the different organizations: AKC, USDAA, NADAC.

A timed team event where the dog runs and jumps over four jumps triggers a “flyball box” which releases a tennis ball, get the ball, then run back over the four jumps. When the first dog passes the start lines the second dog may go. There are four dogs in a team. The jumps are set to 4” below the shoulder of the shortest dog. North American Flyball Association is the governing body.

A dog sport that originated in developing police dogs. Dogs are tested for obedience, tracking, and protection work. You can compete in the obedience or tracking only, but cannot do protection without the other skills. The different organizations have slightly different criteria for titles.

Rally Obedience:
A timed obedience course where you are trying not to lose points. 10-20 obedience tasks are judged as you run through the course at your pace. Signs direct you in each activity. Titles are earned in three different levels.

The dog must guide its stock through an obstacle course consisting of gates, chutes, and other stock related tasks. Titles can be earned for different types of stock (sheep, cattle, and even ducks) and different levels.

Lure Coursing:
Developed for sight hounds. Dogs chase “prey” (plastic bag on a string) around a 600-800 yard course. Titles are earned based on points earned through where you finish in the race. Jr. and Sr. titles are also available.

Field trials:
For retrieving, pointing and flushing dogs. Designed to test dogs that were originally bred to help find and retrieve game for hunters. The dogs are tested on their breed category skill as it relates to gun work.

While this is not an all-inclusive list it does give us a jumping off point for deciding what to do. The first consideration to take into account is your dog’s original function. Most dogs were bred for a job and most sports started with the idea that since we no longer ask our dogs to do that job every day, they need an outlet. And secondly, what do you like to do. There is something for every dog out there.

Now get out there and have some fun!