This is a common question we receive, and quite frankly, an excellent one!
The term "dog sports" is used to describe a variety of competition activities we do with our dogs. Many of these sports were designed to pull upon a species- or breed-specific talent our dogs possess.
For instance, Border Collies demonstrate their ability to move herds of sheep through a pasture to a designated fenced-in area in the sport of herding. Sighthound breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, Ibizans and others can stretch their legs and showcase how fast and talented they truly are with lure coursing, where they chase a plastic bag, lovingly known as the "bunny", around a course of varying lengths.
Then there are sports that were designed to highlight the relationship between a dog and their handler. Two sports that immediately come to mind are agility and competition obedience. Agility involves having the team navigate an obstacle course, the dog taking the obstacles themselves and the handler directing where they go. With competition obedience, a dog and handler team must work as one to complete a variety of obedience behaviors in a certain order and with absolute precision. These sports demand the highest levels of communication and understanding between dog and handler.
"But what do you get?"
An improved relationship with your dog. The opportunity to highlight how brilliant they are. Oh, and the potential of earning titles and pretty ribbons.
"Am I allowed to do dog sports, or is it some sort of special club?"
Of course! Here is a secret: you can do all the fun stuff of training and practicing, reveling in all the benefits of doing the ACTIVITY, and never formally enter a trial if you do not want to! But, if you think competing would be an enjoyable avenue for you and your dog, you absolutely may enter a trial in the sport of your choosing! The trick is to determine which organization you want to compete with.
"This sounds interesting, but I am still a bit lost..."
The dog sport world can be a confusing and daunting one, especially if you are trying to traverse it all by yourself! Luckily, we have a recorded webinar that addresses this very topic: Tricks for Terrific Trialing. In this webinar, we walk you through the process, from start to finish, of getting ready to trial, finding an organization, the paperwork you will want to complete, deadlines to keep in mind and how to be prepared for the big day. We urge you to check it out.
At the end of the day, dog sports are another wonderful opportunity where we can enjoy being around our dogs, further build our bond with them and create memories that will last a lifetime.