Pet Care

Dog Sports 101

Dog climbs dog house with two handlers helping

Do you have a smarty-pants canine? Does your favorite pup need a little extra stimulation or a boost in confidence? Or maybe you're just interested in finding something fun you can do to deepen your bond with your canine buddy?

Welcome to dog sports, a great way to have tons of fun with your friendly dog while giving him the enrichment every companion animal needs! Agility and other sports can be enjoyed competitively or noncompetitively and will help your dog build confidence and form an uncommonly deep bond with you.

If you're like most pet parents, when you hear "dog sports," you probably think of Fetch and Tug-of-War. But the world of dog sports goes well beyond those activities. If you've ever seen a video of a dog jumping over hurdles, barreling through a tunnel or dancing in sync with a human, chances are you were watching dog sports in action. If you think dog sports might be for you and your dog, here's a quick guide to some of your options.

Agility

What is it? Racing against the clock, your dog completes a challenging obstacle course with you as his guide. Agility can be done competitively or just for fun! 

Who's it for? Any breed or mixed-breed dog can be an agility champion! Your dog should have lots of energy and focus, and you should be ready to spend lots of quality time working with your pup.

For more info: Visit the North American Dog Agility Council, Canine Performance Events, or the U.S. Dog Agility Association.

Rally Obedience (Rally-O)

What is it? Kind of like a driver's test for you and your dog—except a whole lot more enjoyable for everyone involved. With your dog in a heel position, you navigate a course, stopping at signs that ask you to perform various commands.

Who's it for? Open to dogs of all breeds and mixes, Rally-O is great for dogs and pet parents who are new to dog sports, and for those looking for a way to have more fun with obedience training.

For more info: Visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Disc Dog

What is it? Some next-level Frisbee fun. As the "thrower" of your team, you work together with your dog to compete in distance catching (what it sounds like) and freestyle catching (throwing with a few "tricks" tossed in).

Who's it for? Dogs of any breed with a flair for catching a Frisbee, and pet parents looking for a sport that requires minimal equipment—you just need a disc, a level area and, of course, man's best friend.

For more info: Visit the International Disc Dog Handlers Association.

Flyball

What is it? A relay race for pups—and lots of fun for both of you! As part of a team of four other dogs, your dog must race over a series of jumps on a 51-foot course, trigger the release of a ball, retrieve the ball and then race back to the start/finish line so the next dog can do the same.

Who's it for? Any energetic dog can compete! Handlers (that's you) who seek a sport that's as social as it is challenging should look no further than the fun-loving Flyball community.

For more info: Visit the North American Flyball Association.

Freestyle

What is it? Dancing with your dog! Sounds goofy, but it's lots of fun…and hard work.

Who's it for? Creative folks, and dogs of any breed.

For more info: Visit the Canine Freestyle Federation or the World Canine Freestyle Organization

There are still many more dog sports to be enjoyed! Here are just a few more dog sports groups to check out: