Agility, Schutzhund and More: Dog Sports Explained

What’s what in the world of dog sports?  When I first started to follow my passion of working with dogs a few years ago, I was really curious about all the different dog sports that existed for dogs these days.  I had heard of Agility and Schutzhund, but wasn’t sure what it all meant.  This blog post will give you a quick “dog’s eye view” of the dog sports world.  Some dog sports have been around for many, many years, but some newer ones were developed fairly recently.  A few of the most common ones you may have heard of are Schutzhund, Agility and Flyball.  Dock Jumping and K9 Nose Work (as a hobby and sport) are relatively new to the scene.

dock_jumpingAgility is a dog sport in which a handler directs the dog through a series of obstacles, which may include tunnels, jumps, planks or ramps.  Agility can be done for fun or competitively.  The sport first emerged in the United Kingdom in the ’70s and has become extremely popular.  Our next blog post will discuss in more detail the different obstacles and equipment used in Agility.  This Saturday, February 8th, in New York City, The Westminster Kennel Club will hold its first-ever Agility trial: The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster.

Schutzhund is German for “protection dog,” and is a German sport that was developed early in the 20th century.  It involves a series of very demanding tests that few dogs can pass and was originally only given to German Shepherds.  This sport covers a variety of skills, including tasks related to obedience, odor-detection, search and rescue, and protection.

Flyball is a very fast-paced relay sport.  Two teams of four dogs compete at a time.  The dogs race, side-by-side, down a 51-foot course over four obstacles.  They then release and retrieve a tennis ball at the end of the course and return back to the start.  The first team to have all four dogs complete the course with no mistakes wins that heat.  Flyball is a very exciting sport to be part of and to watch!

In Dock Jumping, dogs jump from a dock of a defined specification into water.  Both indoor and outdoor competitions exist.  The distance jumped is measured from the dock to the point where the base of the dog’s tail (where the tail meets the body) hits the water, or in some competitions where the dog’s nose is when his body hits the water.  The current world record holders can jump amazing distances, upwards of 30 feet!

K9 Nose Work as a sport evolved fairly recently.  Many people now participate in K9 Nose Work as a fun search with scent activity.  It can be a stimulating sport or a hobby for both dogs and people.  As a hobby, it’s designed to be accessible and fun for almost any dog!  It starts with activities as simple as having a dog find a favorite treat or toy in a box and can expand to having them locate something specific in a house, on a property or in a vehicle.

Before training your dog in any dog sport, it is important to establish a trusting relationship that incorporates clear and consistent communication.  The dog trainers at Bed and Biscuit can help you build a strong, long-lasting foundation!  Tune in next week as we dig more into the sport of Agility and some of the different obstacles you might see as a spectator.


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