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Fun Games for Dogs and Their People

By David13676 @dogspired

Fun Games for Dogs and Their PeoplePlaying with a dog used to mean a game of tug-of-war or fetch. These days, canine sports are organized and televised, and top competitors have fans like any top athlete.

Agility, dock diving, flyball, freestyle, obedience, tracking, hunt tests and more – there’s an activity for every dog. I’ve tried almost all of them, and not been good at any one of them.

But my dogs and I have always had a great time. Here’s a look at four of the dog sports that are most welcoming to newbies:

Agility: A canine obstacle course with jumps, A-frames, teeter-totters, open and closed tunnels, weave poles and dog walks (like the balance beam in a gymnastics competition). Agility trials test physical skill, control, patience and teamwork, and demonstrate canine athleticism, versatility and speed.

Racing against the clock, dogs directed by their handlers must navigate a challenging course. In each of five height divisions, the winner is the dog with the fastest time and a run free of faults, such as knocking over the bar of a jump or missing the contact zone when coming off an obstacle. Any breed or mix can compete in agility, but medium-size dogs that are quick and nimble usually do best.

Dock diving: Splash! For some dogs, there’s nothing more fun than running and jumping into water, whether it’s a swimming pool, a pond, a lake or the ocean.

Not surprisingly, that love of water has been channeled into competition. It’s called dock diving and it’s one of the wettest, wildest dog games around.

Dogs in this sort of event go for distance. The dog with the longest jump off the end of a dock is the winner. In heats known as waves, each dog runs down the dock, the owner throws a toy out over the water, and the dog jumps in after it. The distance it jumps is measured at the point where the base of its tail hits the water.

If you say “Jump!” and your dog asks “How high?” “extreme vertical” might be its game. In this event, the dog races down the dock, then leaps up to grab a bumper suspended 10 feet above the water. The winner is the dog with the highest measured jump.

Flyball: This simple relay race involves four hurdles and a tennis ball. Two teams race each other over a 51-foot course with four jumps.

At the end of the course is a spring-loaded box that ejects a tennis ball when the dog steps on a trigger. Catching the tennis ball in its mouth, the dog races back over the hurdles, crossing the starting line before the next dog begins. The first team to run without errors wins.

Speedy dogs and dogs who love to retrieve excel at this game, but any dog can play, as long as it can learn to jump a hurdle and retrieve a tennis ball. Large or small, dogs of all breeds and mixes can compete together.

Freestyle: Nicknamed “the tail-wagging sport,” canine freestyle (also known as musical freestyle or heelwork to music) is a choreographed routine set to music that incorporates elements of traditional canine obedience exercises and the equine sport of dressage.

Almost any dog with a love of the limelight can do freestyle. Freestyle builds on a dog’s natural moves such as spins, rolls, jumps and bows. Dogs learn to spin in different directions, to jump through or into their partner’s arms, to bow before a waltz, to place their paws on an arm or on their partner’s back.

For two-legged team members, it helps to have rhythm and an understanding of choreography. But even if you don’t, freestyle is a great way to have fun with a dog right in your own backyard … or to find a better dance partner.

A simple Internet search will hook you up with classes in your area.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to play!

Tags: dog games, dog play, dog sports, dogs and people

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