Dog sports and agility go hand in hand. The skills that you and your dog acquire through training can be further developed or refined by competing in a number of different sports. In this section you can learn about such popular sports as flyball, treibball, skijoring, lure coursing and dock diving, among others and how they are linked to agility training skills.
Flyball involves teams of dogs racing through a series of jumps with a ball that can be released with a spring loaded lever. Once the dog releases and catches the ball, it must then race back to its handler and the next dog on the team then heads onto the course. The team is finished when all of the dogs have crossed the finish line. This sport not only focuses on speed and agility but also the ability to follow basic commands.
Treibball is based on the herding instinct and involves maneuvering a series of large balls into an area the size of a soccer goal. Handler and dog must work together to get all of the balls into the target area in the allotted amount of time. With treibball it is particularly easy to determine the link between dog sports and agility, as the communication necessary to work the balls is exactly the same as that used to navigate an agility course, often using only hand gestures or a series of whistles.
For dogs used to doing heavier work, skijoring is one of several sports that involves mushing, similar to that used in dog sled racing. In this particular instance instead of a sled, the dog is pulling a person on skis. In other variations dogs can participate in "dry land" mushing, pulling a cart or even a mountain bike.
Of course, the connection between dog sports and agility isn't all about communication. Speed is a big element and this is the main factor in lure coursing. Here dogs race across a field in pursuit of a mechanical lure. The lure can be programmed to take a circuitous route similar to the behavior of natural prey. This particular sport will be best suited to sight trained dogs but an affinity for lure coursing can be developed by any breed.
Aside from these types of sports, dock diving, dog frisbee and canine freestyle are other areas that can often be the next step up from agility training. Whether your dog is refining his jumping skills by diving off a dock into water, retrieving Frisbees thrown at a variety of angles and speeds or running through a freestyle course, he'll surely benefit from the speed training and communication learned through agility work.
Another idea that can can be a lot of fun and is often overlooked is dog scent training or nosework. Use your dog's natural inclination and ability as a positive activity to enhance your training program.
This gives you just a small idea of the exciting world of dog sports and agility, but if you want to know more, then simply check out the following pages and you'll find lots of interesting details. You may find a whole new type of activity that you can engage in with your dog that will stimulate you both physically and mentally.
Don't think that running agility courses is all you can do with your best friend. The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers events in these and many other dog sports and agility. Look into the exciting possibilities of dog sports and then get out there and start having fun!