Wednesday, 11 March 2020 09:36

A whole world of dog sports you never thought to explore

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A whole world of dog sports you never thought to explore

We feed our dog, we play with them, we cuddle them, we clean up after them, and we walk them. These are the basic things most people do with their beloved pooches and most live a full, fun life. But, most owners will agree that it’s very fulfilling to watch your dog run free and push their limits when chasing their favourite toy, so why not help your dog exceed their limits and become good at a skill they can compete with, while also building the relationship between dog and owner.

When you think of dog competitions most go straight to agility or maybe obedience but the scope of sports is much wider than that and there are many different benefits to each sport. If you want to build a concrete bond between you and your dog these sports are some of the best ways to do that while also ensuring you have a well-rounded, well socialised dog.

With sports like obedience and agility many people will watch a handler and their dog complete the competition and think they don’t have the time or patience to teach their dog that level of tricks. As agility includes completing a kind of obstacle course with your dog while obedience is more testing the training of your dog by executing tricks with precision and accuracy. Others, however, will see it as a great way to build communication and trust with your dog and not mind the gruelling patience needed to get your dog to a competitive level.

These sports are just you and your dog and build up that relationship beautifully, but, these may not fit some people as they are in some ways age restrictive and perhaps not suitable for some mental and physical disabilities due to the running and focus involved for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean that there are no sports for you and your furry companion it just means you need to look at the other options. Sports like flyball, which I compete in, potentially require less movement and shorter periods of focus. Flyball is a team sport where four dogs fetch a ball in relay, each dog jumping four hurdles on the way there and back, being sent and encouraged back by their handlers. Each handler would require four to five

seconds of intense focus rather than the few minutes agility takes. This sport is an amazing way to socialise your dog as they work together in a team and to build up your own confidence as instead of it being just you and your dog you have trusted team members, and their dogs, beside you every step of the way!

Though I may be a bit biased as I only compete in flyball currently, though I hope to expand my participation soon, I think the socialisation skills developed in this sport are extraordinary as you get to understand your dog and their moods when they are running and you also develop your own focus and sense of worth as your dog needs you to run, like they do to do many of the sports available to both of you. My team, Bridbay flyball, has given me the confidence to handle different dogs and the gratification I feel when I see my own dog practice is indescribable. My team leader, Claire Turton, describes flyball as a “ team sport and very family friendly and open to any age or disability”, the possibilities are amazingly endless.

Even if you don’t want to compete in these sports with your dog it’s always good to have different ways of exercising your dog to keep their mental stimulation high and help avoid chewing and other naughty behaviour when they are left alone. So, give up one morning a week to spend on a sport with your dog and see how both of your socialisation and confidence skills grow, no matter your age and how your trust and love for each other can flourish even further than before.

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