Monday, January 1, 2018

Year of the Dog

Did you know that 2018 is Year of the Dog on the Chinese calendar? How cool is that?! I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to learn something new with your dog. Don't know where to start? Here are 18 options for 2018:
  • Agility -- A dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles. See the United States Dog Agility Association for more information. 

  • Barn Hunt -- A growing sport honoring the traditional role of dogs in ridding barns, homes, and properties of vermin. Dogs hunt for rats hidden in a straw bale maze. It's a timed event, with levels of difficulty from Novice to Master. More information can be found at the Barn Hunt Association. Jedi and I love this!

  • Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test -- This is a 10 item test to demonstrate that your dog has good manners and you are a responsible dog owner. It's not hard (Jedi passed) but not a cake walk either (Roxy didn't). More info here. Once you've completed the CGC, you can move on to the more complicated (and more impressive) Urban Canine Good Citizen test.

  • Conformation -- A dog show (i.e. Westminster) where a dog is evaluated on its build, looks, movement, temperament, and many other things that "make it what it is". Dogs are compared against a set standard for the particular breed. In 2015 I did an A to Z series about dog shows. Click here for more details.

  • Dock Diving -- A dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water. Ultimate Air Dogs has some great information about dock diving.

    My friend's dog is a dock diving fool!
  • Farm Dog Test -- This is something I'd like to do with Jedi. It's like the CGC, Barn Hunt, Temperament Test and more all rolled up into a fun package. Here's the official brochure. Hopefully I'll be able to give you a first hand account soon!

  • Fast CAT -- The Fast CAT Test is a timed 100 yard dash for dogs. Dogs run individually. Dogs earn points based on their handicapped speed. Titles are awarded when a dog has accumulated a given number of points. I have friends who do this and absolutely love it. More info here.

  • Flyball -- A dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball. Check out the North American Flyball Association for more details. 

  • Freestyle -- A modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance. It's a lot of fun to watch. I have a friend who does this. Apparently there are several freestyle organizations including the Canine Freestyle Federation and the Musical Dog Sport Association

  • Herding -- A sport in which a dog must be able to move livestock around a preset course. The livestock normally seen is sheep, but ducks and cattle can also be used. There are multiple organizations for herding as well. Here is a link to the American Herding Breed Association. The AKC offers herding titles, as does several of the herding breed associations. 

  • Lure Coursing -- A sport where dogs chase an artificial lure across a field, following a pattern that is meant to simulate live coursing and is perfect for sight hounds. Here a link to the AKC's Getting Started in Lure Coursing page. 

  • Nose Work -- This fun search and scenting activity is for virtually all dogs and people. Three different organizations host trials: the National Association of Canine Scent Work, the UKC, and now the AKC. If you want to just have fun, check out the Sniff School posts at Donna and the Dogs.

    Jedi's nose is amazing!
  • Obedience -- A dog sport in which a dog-handler team must execute a predefined set of tasks. Training for obedience trials can provide much needed mental stimulation and physical activity for a bored house pet. It's amazing to watch. AKC Obedience can be found here

  • Rally -- Another obedience trial, but in Rally the competitors proceed around a course of designated stations with the dog in heel position. The course consists of 10 to 20 signs that instruct the team what to do. Unlike traditional obedience, handlers are allowed to encourage their dogs during the course. World Cynosport Rally has some great information about Rally. 

  • Schutzhund -- German for “protection dog,” schutzhund was developed in Germany in the early 1900s as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd Dog. Modern schutzhund consists of three phases: tracking, obedience, and protection. A dog must pass all three phases in one trial to be awarded a schutzhund title. Want more info about schutzhund? Start by visiting the United Schutzhund Clubs of America

  • Tracking -- An event to encourage dogs to make use of their strongest facility, the ability to follow a scent trail. The competition emulates the finding of a lost person or article. The AKC offers tracking trials and titles. See here for more info. 

  • Treibball -- A new canine sport combining herding, chasing, agility and soccer. Dogs push large Pilates-type exercise balls into a goal, working at a distance from the handler. Go to the American Treibball Association for pictures and a better explanation 

  • Trick Dog -- Sponsored by Kyra Sundance and Do More With Your Dog, dogs complete a series of tricks to earn various titles. Last year the AKC started offering Trick Dog titles as well. Jedi earned his novice title in July!

There you go. EIGHTEEN different things you could be doing with your dog. Get out there and have some fun! I'd love to hear all about it. -- K

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