In the earlier parts of this series we discussed a few games that you can play with your dog to help build a better relationship. More structured play with your dog will lead to stronger obedience and an all around better dog. Through games and training dogs learn to trust you.
In this third part of the series, we are going to dive a little deeper than basic games you can play at home. If you really enjoy training your dog, and already have all the basics down, then this part of the series is for you! More an more of the people in our group obedience classes want to do more than the classic SIT, DOWN, STAY, etc… Below, we’ll cover a few of the fun dog sports you can do with your pup in Los Angeles.
One of the most popular activities that you and your pup can get into is Nose work! Inspired by working detection dogs, nose work is a fun scent discrimination activity accessible to almost any dog. This dog sport builds focus and provides an excellent outlet to keep your dog sharp and healthy through mental and physical stimulation.
Nose work usually starts with your dog finding treats hidden in one of several boxes in a small indoor area. Once the dog finds the odor, they are rewarded by the handler. Once dogs begin to catch on to the game, the search areas extend to large rooms, then large outdoor areas, and eventually vehicles. As the dogs and handlers become more and more confident in the dog’s nose, you’ll start targeting specific odors and more advanced skills for competition can be taught. A lot of people end up competing with their dogs on the weekends. There are several nose work classes and clubs throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Check out K9 Nosework
Rally Obedience is affectionately called Rally or Rally-O. It’s a dog sport that is based on obedience. Rally was designed with the average pet owner in mind, but can be very challenging for those who are a little more competitive. The main objective of rally is to produce dogs that have been trained well enough to behave well at home, in public, and around other dogs.
Many of the behaviors required are basic obedience commands. The competitors walk a course of 10 to 20 “stations.” Stations are indicated by signs(Click Here) telling the dog and handler team what to do. Each team starts with 100 points and the judge deducts points for any mistakes.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Rally Obedience is open to all AKC breeds and mixed breeds registered in the AKC Partners program. It’s a great stepping stone after you get your dog’s CGC. For more info on Rally check out AKC Rally-O
Treibball, pronounced “Try Ball,” also known as Urban Herding is the new craze in dog sport. The game consists of herding a bunch of large exercise balls into a net. The dog and handler team have 15 minutes to herd the balls into the net. The fastest team with the least amount of errors wins. This is great challenge because handlers have to learn how to control their dog’s position, speed, and movement at a distance from the dog.
Of course this is a great outlet for all the herding breeds, but it really works well for any dog that has a lot of prey drive(dogs that like to chase things). If you’re interested in Treibball check out The American Treibball Association.
Looking for a great way to bond with your dog and burn off a lot of energy, then agility is probably for you. Agility is the most popular dog sport around. In agility, the handler directs the dog through a series of obstacles in a race for time. Some of the obstacle include tunnels, jumps, weave poles, teeter-totters, and A-frames. The dog runs off leash and the handler can’t touch the dog or the obstacles. This can can be quite challenging as it requires skilled training for the dog and staunch coordination for the handler.
Agility builds confidence in dogs and makes them better listeners. Handlers become more in tune to their dogs and learn really good timing. You don’t have to compete to enjoy agility. There are classes offered all over LA. Many folks start off doing it for fun and get bitten by the bug. For more information on agility, check out AKC Agility
Mondioring, affectionately known as Mondio, is one of the most difficult dog sports in the world. It’s probably one of the most difficult because it combines various aspects of so many different dog sports. Simply explained, mondioring dog and handler teams have to compete in a combination of agility, obedience and protection exercises. A mondio dog competes with no leash or collar. Each competition is based on a theme and the field is set up like a theater with props, scenarios and distractions throughout the field. The complexity of the field combined with the demands for control in the exercises require training that makes a highly driven dog remain poised and clear-headed.
Unfortunately because of the difficulty of this sport, not every dog is physically or mentally capable. The sport recognizes this, and offers Mondioring Obedience titles that do not require dogs to do the protection portion. If you’re interested in Mondio, go to the United States Mondioring Association (USMRA) site to find local training clubs.
Training for dog sports doesn’t only benefit the dogs it benefits the owners too. It gives you a more in-depth understanding of your dog and their behaviors. A lot of the skills gained by training in these sports will also have practical applications in your daily life.
Most people do not have or want competition dogs, but getting your dog involved in the training required to compete in any of these activities will make a better dog. Having a structured relationship with your dog enables them to be a fully engaged member of the family. A trained dog joins in on the fun when company comes over, accompanies the family on outings, vacations, gets to go for hikes, and almost anything else their people get to do. It’s a fact that training shows to be the single most important piece that will keeps a dog in their forever home. As you engage in more activities and give the dog more structure and attention, your dogs will learn to like you. 🙂
Fido, you’re welcome.