Feeling inspired by the Summer Olympics? Ready to get your pup—and yourself—more active this summer? If you have a high-energy dog that needs that extra mental and physical stimulation, they might do well with some doggy sports. Believe it or not, there are tons of sports and activities just for dogs. And if your pup gets good enough, they could even compete!
But don’t worry… we know competition isn’t for every human or every dog. So we’ve found some fun dog sports that any dog breed can try out, and any human can enjoy. Even if it’s just for some fun summer exercise.
Dog Sports and Events
If you’ve ever been interested in watching dog sports and competitions, or thought your dog might be up for the challenge, there are many different dog sports and events to choose from. Remember to keep your dog's breed and training in mind. Certain dog breeds are better at some sports than others. And it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before trying intense physical activity.
If you’re interested in these different competitions, the American Kennel Club actually hosts over 22,000 events each year! You can check out which events are held in your state or city. Then attend them for fun, or to check out what the dog competitions are all about. If you’re really interested in getting started down this path, here are some of the top dog sports and events your dog could compete in.
Top Competitive Dog Sports and Events:
- Canine Freestyle
- Disc Dog
- Dock Jumping
- Herding Trials
- Lure Coursing
- Rally Obedience
- AKC Scent Work
- Field Events
- Coonhound Event
- Barn Hunt
- Nose Work
- Trick Dog
5 best dog sports for any dog breed
But I’m guessing that most of you aren’t exactly wanting to compete with your pup. If you’re like me, you just want some fun new activities to try out with your dog that will help keep them mentally and physically stimulated. And going for a walk around the block for the thousandth time just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Even if you are considering competition, the following dog sports are great ones for beginners! So let’s take a closer look at the five best dog sports for any dog breed—that any human can do with their pup.
Rally is about both dog obedience, and teamwork between the dog and his/her owner. This event is a great intro. dog sports because it strengthens the bond and communication between dog and owner. You and your dog will actually run through a course together that is created by the judges.
This is one of the oldest dog sports, but continues to change and update throughout the years. In competition, dogs will be judged based upon skills like walking on and off leash, as well as things like come, stay, heel, jump, and retrieve. Any dog that knows basic tricks and manners like sit, stay, and down can start learning Rally Obedience. This is especially true if your dog enjoys learning new skills and tricks.
Fast CAT might sound like a funny name for a dog sport, but CAT actually stands for Coursing Ability Test. If your dog is the type to fly right by and outrun all the other dogs—this may be the sport for them. The Fast CAT is a timed 100-yard dash. The dogs don’t run altogether, like we do in a race. Instead, they each run one at a time while chasing a lure. This entices them to run faster.
According to the American Kennel Club, “Dogs like Greyhounds have been known to reach speeds over 36 miles per hour, and even the tiny Chihuahuas have been clocked at over 19 miles per hour.” Crazy, right? And the nice part about this sport is that it doesn't require any specific equipment or special training. The similar sport, Lure Coursing, only allows certain breeds. But in Fast CAT, all breeds 12 months and older are welcome to participate.
Does your dog have a great sniffer? If your dogs are like mine, they can’t resist the scent of a critter nearby or underground. Well, get ready for this… that’s actually a sport! I bet you never knew your pup was so talented.
The way Scent Work functions is that your dog would actually run around, sniffing out hidden cotton balls that have been soaked in essential oils. And in the competition setting, the dog’s handlers don’t get to know where the cotton balls are. So you would have to let your dog lead you around, until they found the scent.
This sport is typically best suited for “scent hounds.” But all dog breeds are welcome to compete. And this would be such a fun game to try out at home. It’s basically a dog’s version of hide-and-seek. And if a dog learns to hone-in on their scent skills, it helps them build their overall confidence.
The Farm Dog Certified Test has nothing to do with herding. It is actually about your dog performing “farm dog tasks” while in the distracting environment of a farm. It might be easy for your pup to listen to you at home, or in your fenced-in backyard. But what about an open farm with livestock all around?
The American Kennel Club explains that “your dog must perform 12 exercises typical of a farm dog such as being close to livestock, jumping over logs, or staying on top of bales of hay or straw… The test assesses your dog’s aptitude for farm work by looking at self-control, confidence, and trust in the handler.” This test is perfect for dogs who have already great obedience at home, and are ready for a new challenge. Think your dog can cut it?
How smart is your dog? Have they already mastered the basics? Well, it’s time for you to get creative! And that’s the best part about this dog sport. It’s only limited by your imagination. The First AKC Trick Dog National Competition was actually held in 2019. This newer dog event is fun and mentally stimulating for both the dogs, and the humans who come up with the tricks.
There are five different levels of trick difficulty. And all breeds are welcome to join in on the fun. This dog sport would be the easiest to do for fun at home. It’s a great way to bond with your dog and to increase communication skills between the two of you. Plus it makes for a great party trick around friends and family.
If you’re ready to get active with your dog, and looking for something interesting and new… Try out one of these 5 dog sports. You can do these at home for fun, or begin your dog’s training for the world of competition. Either way, it’s a great bonding opportunity, and will keep you both entertained all summer long.