Pet Health

High Energy Sports and Activities for Your Dog

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Pet care is more than just feeding your dog. You need to work that doggo out! We are talking about their exercise regime. Is she a couch potato? Is she a sleeper until you drag her out for a walk? Well, that is not enough. 

It is also important to remember that an active dog is also less prone to bad behavior like chewing through carpet or shoes. Why? Because a pet needs to dissipate pent-up energy and apart from exercising, this is the only way she can do it. 

To safeguard your pet’s health and your home furniture, she must engage in some serious workout, the one that puts her muscle power to use. Apart from the regular walks, you can engage your dog in various sports and physical activities.

Here’s a detailed list of dog sports that you and your dog can add to your list of fun things to do together 

Flyball    

Flyball is a sport for dogs of any size, shape, breed, or mix of breeds where each team has four members and competes against each other for the fastest time. Each dog must jump over four hurdles, catch a ball from an automatic throwing box, then turn around and race back to the starting line. 

To learn more about Flyball, check out the North American Flyball Association. The American Kennel Club also has excellent information on the sport of Flyball and how to get started. 

Dog Surfing 

Dog surfing is a sport that is exactly like it sounds: dogs surf waves on surfboards. Some dogs surf with their humans, and other dogs surf on their own. Since dogs cannot paddle a surfboard on their own, their humans do the hard work of finding the right waves, while the dogs enjoy the surfing part.

Dog surfing is typically done just for fun. However, there are annual competitions like the World Surfing Dog Championships or the Surf City Surf Dog competition, both of which occur in California. The World Surf Dog Championship website has information for beginners interested in teaching their dog to surf. Of course, surfing dogs should love the water, be in excellent physical condition, and be skilled at swimming. 

Rally Obedience

Rally Obedience is a great low-impact sport for dogs and their handlers. Dog owners lead their dogs through a series of obedience-based exercises on a premade course. A Rally Obedience course can include anywhere from 10-20 exercises. Typical activities involve walking a zig-zag path through cones, sending the dog through small jumps, or walking around the dog while he/she stays in a sitting position. 

Dog owners who wish to start competing in Rally Obedience competitions can check their local dog training facilities for available classes. There is also great information for beginners at the American Kennel Club Rally Resource Center.  

K9 Nose Work/Barn Hunt

K9 Nose Work is a fun, low-impact activity in which your dog learns to locate scents in hidden locations. Dogs search for scents in boxes, interior rooms, outdoor locations, and vehicles for certain scents. K9 Nose Work is played either recreationally or in competitions around the United States as well. 

Barn Hunt is a separate but similar sport in which dogs search for the scent of “vermin” like rats in barns and crop storage areas. Unlike game hunting, there is no actual hunting in barn hunt. The rats used as scent are carefully protected from the dogs and are only used by their owners if they show that they enjoy interacting with the dogs that find them. In this case, the rats are safe. 

Both K9 Nose Work and Barn Hunt require training and practice, making it a fun, interactive, and low impact exercise for you and your dog. There is walking, but no running or jumping. You can find more information at K9 Nose Work and the Barn Hunt Association websites. 

Lure Coursing

Lure Coursing is a high-speed activity for dogs who have a strong prey drive and love to run. It is designed to mimic the pursuit of prey in a natural environment. In Lure Coursing, dogs chase a white, plastic lure that mimics the path a rabbit or other prey animal would take in the wild. Sighthounds are common Lure Coursing participants. Only certain breeds can compete for points and titles, but other breeds enjoy Lure Coursing for fun and exercise. 

To find more information on how to get started and begin training your dog for Lure Coursing, the American Kennel Club has useful information for beginners. You can also check out the American Sighthound Field Association for more details.

Dock Diving

Dock Diving is a canine sport in which dogs leap from docks or platforms into the water to retrieve a training dummy/bumper or a toy. This sport was created from dogs’ primary love of retrieving and swimming. 

Sporting breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shorthaired Pointers are frequent dock diving participants, but any dog in good health that loves the water can enjoy dock diving. Dock diving occurs in lakes and pools worldwide in a leisurely as well as a competent manner. 

You can even catch Dock Diving on television, with dogs jumping as far as 25 feet across the pool. 

To get started in competitive dock diving, check out Dock Dogs or North American Diving Dogs.  

Disc Dog

Like many other sports for dogs, Disc Dog is based on a dog’s natural love of playing a game of frisbee. Anyone can play with their dogs at home in their yard or a local dog park with minimal training and equipment. 

You can also train for a variety of types of disc dog competitions around the world. Chasing, catching, or retrieving flying discs is an excellent form of exercise for dogs and a great bonding experience for dogs and their humans. 

If you think your dog has the capability, several organizations can help you get started. Check out Sky Houndz or the US Disc Dog Nationals

Herding Trials

Sheepdog and cattle dog trials are a way for herding breeds to show off their skills at doing what they were bred to do: herd livestock. Herding dogs are intelligent, high-energy dogs, and training them for herding trials is a way to help them burn off some of their energy, put their brains to use, and have fun doing what comes naturally. 

To learn more about herding trials, check out the American Kennel Club website or the American Herding Breed Association

Game Bird Hunting and Hunt Tests

Hunting dogs are typically used during Upland Game to hunt birds like pheasants, quail, and dove, as well as Waterfowl like ducks and geese. Depending on the breed of dog and the type of bird being hunted, the dogs assist humans by locating birds, flushing them out of the heavy brush, and even locating and retrieving birds that have been shot. 

Getting started in the sport takes considerable planning and preparation. Hunters must take hunting safety classes and work on their marksmanship abilities. They must learn the rules for each state they are hunting and obtain the proper licenses and permission to hunt on specific land. Hunting dogs’ training begins at an early age, with many hunters introducing their puppies to bird scents as young as eight weeks old. It is imperative to properly train hunting dogs correctly since they will be off-leash in open areas with guns being fired. 

Dog owners who want to train their dogs to retrieve game birds but are not interested in hunting can train their dogs to participate in hunt tests like the American Kennel Club Junior Hunter Test and Senior Hunter Test. These tests mimic the hunting environment and test a dog’s retrieving skills or pointing skills (depending on the type of dog you have) using birds that have already been killed. 

Resources for learning more about game bird hunting and working with gun dogs include Gun Dog Magazine, Sport Dog, and Tom Dokken’s Dokken’s Oak Ridge Kennels.

Health and Safety Considerations 

Anytime you begin a new sport or physically taxing activity with your dog, it is a good idea to check with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to participate. In some instances, you can gradually increase your dog’s activity and build muscle tone and stamina while learning about a new sport. The same way a human might run a 5K before trying a marathon, your dog may need to become more physically fit before participating in intense sports or activities. 

The most important thing to remember is that your dog should only participate if they are having fun. Avoid harsh training methods, and do not force dogs to participate in something they do not enjoy. For instance, with the winter coming up, you can make a list of winter activities for your dog to make exercising during the cold weather easier. 

Your dog’s body language and general demeanor will tell you if they are having fun or, on the contrary, reluctant to go on.  

Are You Tracking Your Pet’s Fitness?

Just like counting steps and tracking food intake is essential for humans to lead a healthier life, tracking pet activities and health parameters is vital to ensure your fur buddy’s fitness. You now know how much exercise your dog needs and if they need something extra to keep their health up. 

You can do this with the help of the  Waggle Pet Fitness monitor, which, with its smart analysis, can help you assess your pet’s physical activity, which is vital to maintain her overall health. Whether you are playing any of the sports or merely hiking up a mountain, this pet activity monitor can review and present data about the activity as well as resting period, calories burnt, steps covered, and overall well-being, to name a few. 

Keeping up with your pet’s activity and fitness is the best gift you can give – the gift of health.

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