Taking part in competitive sport is natural for humans, it’s part of our DNA. The need to achieve, the desire to win and the added benefits of staying healthy and happy drive us to compete in all types of sporting activity.
Our dogs share many of the same benefits as humans do from partaking in exercise; teamwork and a sense of achievement are the end-goal, building confidence and improving our physical and mental well-being. Allowing your dog to hone their natural hunting skills can be as character-building as it is health-inducing for your four-legged friend, and the fitter you both are, the more happy years you will spend together.
So if the Rugby world cup has motivated you to get moving, why not take your dog down to the local park and enjoy some quality time together with these tried and tested dog-friendly sports:
Disc dog is a great way to build trust between yourself and your dog by working together to complete a task. Disc dog requires very little to start playing; all you need is a Frisbee and some open space. Start by throwing the frisbee over short distance and then gradually extend the distance to keep your furry friend challenged. Key skills here are trust (that you will be there when he returns), paw-eye coordination (to collect that frisbee and bring it back to you), and concentration. If your dog turns out to be a natural you always join a club to help improve your dogs retrieval abilities. This provides opportunities to socialise it with other like-minded, completive pooches. You never know, you may meet some new friends too.
Dog agility is a popular sport where you direct your dog through a variety of obstacles such as a tunnel, teeter-totter, weave poles, pause table, and standard jumps. It provides a great opportunity to build the bond between yourself and your dog whilst providing a really fun way to exercise together; you lead the way, praise good behaviours and teach the benefits of responding to commands and tasks. These transferable skills go way beyond the arena; if your dog trusts the instructions you give, and recognises the benefits of conforming this will in turn lead to a harmonious home-life together too.
Whilst agility training is suitable for most dogs, it can be too much for young pups, who are still learning how to sit and roll over. Agility training is therefore best suited to dogs that are at least one year old or are fully grown, and is an excellent follow-on class for you and your dog to enjoy once you’ve finished basic training classes.
It’s also important to make sure that your dog is fit and well enough to take part; it may be necessary to work together to build each others fitness before you begin agility classes, as it’s great physical exercise for both dog and owner. If you’re not sure whether you or your dog are ready for agility classes, seek advice from your local agility instructor, Vet or GP.
Flyball is a relay race that provides requires coordination and physical fitness, and is suitable for all dog breeds. The game requires teams of four dogs to partake in a relay race; jumping over hurdles towards a spring-loader releasing tennis balls, they quickly learn their task is to retrieve the tennis ball at the end of the hurdles and returning it to their owner. This is great physical exercise for you dog, and will require a competitive streak and ability to understand commands to fulfil the task. Any dog who likes to chase a ball is likely to love flyball, and it’s an excellent way for your dog to burn up excess energy.
As with Agility training, your dog must be fit and well enough to take part in Flyball. If you’re not sure, seek advice from an expert.
We all like a kick-about, including our furry friends. Why not practice your passing skills with your dog? Sharing a fun activity with your pooch in the great outdoors can be the perfect stress reliever after a long week in the office. Dogs like to push the ball around with their heads; following the ball as it rolls exercises their curiosity and provides great exercise too.
It’s best to use a larger ball that can’t be punctured or choked on, as we always want our play-time to be worry-free. Our treat dispensing Busy Buddy® Kibble Nibble™ provides the perfect opportunity to develop your furry friends fancy footwork as they push the ball around to gain access to the treats inside. Thought sharing time with you was enough for your pooch? Add in a Busy Buddy® Kibble Nibble™ and you’re sure to have hours of fun together.