Dog sports: which one will you choose?
This morning I was tagged in a thread on Facebook where a girl with a gorgeous lilac boy (albeit he had amber rather than blue eyes :p) was asking about competitive obedience. I commented to ask whether this was the lilac and white boy who is Ounce’s younger brother (it wasn’t). I also, rather provocatively said that we do agility because obedience is boring. Cheeky!
Someone rightly came back at me to say that it was only boring if you did it badly. Another person made the comment that her dogs hated agility, but loved obedience – we’re not all the same, she said. Which again reminds me of my great-grandmother’s saying “It’s a good job we’re not all the same, or we’d all want to marry the same man (and it wouldn’t be you Charlie)” So true.
How do you choose what to do with your dog?
There are many dog sports and activities to choose from, so it can be difficult to decide what to do. I’ve already provided a beginners guide to agility and I may have mentioned once or twice that that’s what we do, but what else is there?
Once you have completed basic puppy training you can go onto more comprehensive obedience training. You can work on:
- Improving the quality of your heelwork, both on and off the lead
- Positioning the dog – sit, down and stand; being able to do these commands from a distance
- Retrieve – waiting while you throw something, then fetching it ‘cleanly’, bringing it straight back to you and presenting it nicely, waiting while you take it.
- Recall – coming straight back to you at all times, even over an obstacle or from a strange angle
- Scent work – finding a cloth from amongst a number, or something hidden
- Stay – being able to lie calmly for a length of time while you are out of sight
- Stop – being able to stop and wait from a distance and while travelling towards you
- Moving amongst other dogs calmly without being distracted
- Send away – travelling away from you confidently to somewhere you have indicated
These activities are challenging but very satisfying to achieve. The main site for obedience work is www.obedienceuk.net
Following on from obedience, why not try some scentwork with your dog. This is ideal if you have a gundog or hound type of dog, as they are much more motivated to follow a scent than anything else. I recommend my friend Becky Harris and her Scent Detectives classes if you can get to them – they seem like such fun.
Fast and furious for the dog and once they are trained, a fun and sociable activity for you. Teams compete around the country and the top teams then go to Crufts! http://www.flyball.org.uk/
Heelwork to Music
If you have watched Crufts you will have seen Mary Ray and her amazing dogs. This activity is also growing rapidly and includes teams performing in formation. http://www.maryray.co.uk/ Also see Ashleigh and Pudsey who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.
I know nothing about field trials, because I don’t have gundogs, but if you have a gundog, this would be a great way to get them thinking and keep them fit. www.thekennelclub.org.uk/fieldtrials
- Disc dog
- Ringcraft (for showing)
- Scramble and scurry
- Trick Training
What type of dog?
I have already mentioned that hounds are probably best for scentwork, and gundogs for field trials. You probably want to think about an active breed like a Dalmatian if you want to do cani-X. Huskies spring to mind for bikejor.
Naturally, Border Collies are bright enough to turn their hand to most dog sports and activities. They have the capacity to follow complex and subtle instruction, with the desire to learn and please you. Some dogs have the brain power but not the willpower. But many different breeds can compete or have fun in many different sports.
For more information, follow the links I’ve given here or look on the Kennel Club website. Or talk to breeders about what dog sports their breed can do?
Ask for help?
You are very welcome to contact me to ask for my advice. I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues. Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.
Please let me know if you have found this post helpful?
Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs? And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think. If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME? Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.