If agility competitions with your dog aren’t your cup of tea, there are still plenty of fun things you and your canine companion can do together. Check out some of these other activities people everywhere are doing with their dogs:
Dog scootering is one of several spin offs of the winter sport of mushing. Instead of pulling a sled, the dog runs, pulling a scooter (ridden, of course, by its owner). It’s perfect for the more athletic breeds of dogs – like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds – whose need for exercise can sometimes outstrip their owners’ stamina. But since scooter wheels offer little resistance, even smaller dogs can participate – especially if you have more than one. Just don’t forget to bring along a stroller or pet carrier in the event that your small dog tires out before you get back to where you started! If you want to give it a try, you can find a sled dog harness at a pet store or online.
I didn’t even know this sport existed, but it’s been around since at 1991. Musical freestyle is like a combination of obedience work and dancing. Each handler choreographs a routine for himself and his dog to perform to music. “Freestyle” means that just about anything goes for the dog’s movements, but, if you want to be competitive, they do have to be more difficult than simple heeling – things like circling or walking backwards (or maybe pushing a pet stroller).
Like many canine sports, treibball sprang from a real-life dog “job:” herding. With treiball, however, the dogs herd balls instead of animals. The dog’s role is to push a series of balls through a goal, while the handler uses commands and gestures to tell the dog which ball to work next. This is a great outlet for the herding instinct that is such a strong drive in shepherds and some other breeds. The sport is most popular in Europe, but you can learn more about opportunities within the U.S. here.
dock jumping is like the broad jump for dogs, but with water thrown in to give the sport a little more oomph. Dogs race down a dock and leap off the end into the water, going for height or distance. It’s a great outlet for retrievers and other dogs who love playing around in the water.
When I first heard of flyball, I thought of all the cute dogs I’ve seen leaping up to catch a Frisbee, but it’s actually a lot more complex than that. Flyball is a relay race, typically involving teams of four dogs each. The dogs run through an obstacle course, hit a target to release a ball, grab the ball, and race back to the finish line. There’s actually a lot of skill involved – for instance, you want your dog to jump high enough to clear the hurdle, but not so high that it wastes precious seconds. And, while speed is important, each race is made up of dogs of similar size and speed, so even the smallest dogs can participate.
You and your dog are definitely not limited to walk around the neighborhood and cuddle in front of the TV. If you’re looking for a new activity that you can do together, why not give one of these a try?
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