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Top Dog Sports for You and Your Dog

If you're a dog owner who is looking for fun or competitive activities to participate in with your dog, there are many different choices available. The choice of dog sports will depend upon your interests and the abilities of your dog. Taking up a dog sport for competition or just for fun is a great way to further bond with your dog and teach him or her some new skills. Read on to see if any of the following top sports for dogs would be a good fit for you and your dog. .

Agility Trials

Agility is probably at the top of the heap when it comes to popularity of dog sporting events. Agility trials involve coaching your dog around an obstacle course while being timed. Obstacles can include things such as jumps and ramps, tunnels, weave poles, and more. Any dog can be trained for agility, though some breeds are more naturally suited for it. Border Collies are very common at agility competitions given their high energy levels, high train-ability traits, and their naturally agile nature. Other breeds that you're likely to see are Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and other breeds that are considered naturally athletic. A dog competing in agility needs to be fast, fit, and highly responsive to the commands of his owner/handler. However, any dog can be taught agility, and there are other fun events for dogs who aren't quite able to keep up with the more serious competitors. For example, the Teacup Dog Agility Association designs agility trials specifically for very small dogs.

Rally Obedience

Rally obedience, sometimes referred to as "Rally-O,? is a competitive dog sport that involves the dog walking with the handler around a ring to various stations where signs are posted as to what task should be performed. These competitions differ somewhat from traditional obedience trials in that traditional obedience involves a pre-determined set of commands that the dog must perform, while in rally obedience the handler will not know what the task is until they reach each station. Handlers are permitted to continue to command the dog during each task, whereas in traditional obedience, a command must be given only once after which the dog must carry out the task. While both styles of competition involve thorough obedience training, rally obedience is a slightly more "fun" version of traditional obedience. This sport is a good way to both train your dog in all manner of commands and show off how well behaved and responsive your dog is in a relaxed environment.

Flyball

Flyball is a fun relay race for dogs. The dogs run in teams of four, and must race down a line of four hurdles to a box containing a tennis ball. Each dog on the team must run the line and pick up a ball, and then return it directly to its owner. When the first dog returns with the first ball, the second dog is released immediately, and so on until all four dogs have completed the run. The team that finishes first, with the fewest penalties, wins. Penalties are assessed if a dog drops a ball during the return or if the next dog in line is released before the previous dog has crossed back over the start line. This is a very entertaining sport to watch and it commonly requires the assistance of an experienced trainer to prepare your dog for competition. Any dog is eligible to compete regardless of breed or size. Border collies and pit bulls are common competitors given their speed and agility.

Weight Pulls

Weight pulls are what they sound like. The dog is placed in a harness and then attached to a sled or cart which is weighted to varying degrees, and the dog is then required to pull the sled/cart a certain distance over a variety of terrain, such as grass or snow. Dogs used in this sport need to be exceptionally strong and be driven to work hard. Breeds such as huskies and malamutes are quite common given their historic breeding as sled dogs, but pit bulls and other "bully" type breeds are frequently used due to their natural strength. The class that the dog participates in depends upon the dog's weight. This sport is not suited for all breeds, as the ability to pull is required, so a medium sized or larger dog is a better choice.

Traditional Conformation Showing

Some may argue whether conformation showing is really a sport. However, it is a high-level competition requiring a significant amount of preparation. Preparing a dog for this style of showing requires substantial monetary investment, time, and effort. The dog needs to be physically fit and have a coat in impeccable condition. In the U.S., the primary organization that holds conformation shows is the American Kennel Club (AKC). These shows have extremely high standards and they cannot be competed in with just any dog. This is a very formal style of competition where both handler and dog must appear impeccable. Additionally, dogs competing in AKC conformation shows must be intact, not spayed or neutered. If conformation showing seems appealing, you will almost certainly need a dog from a show breeder. Only move forward with it under the assistance of an experienced breeder or show ring handler.

Agility trails, Rally-O, Flyball, and dog showing are some of the top dog sports being performed today. All have great qualities and given the variety, there's something available for all dog owners. While these are not the only dog sports that exist, they are quite popular. Consider where your interests lie and what your dog is capable of doing, and then go out and have fun.

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