Dog Sports are a Wonderful Activity for All Canines

Dog Sports

● Dog sports are an excellent activity for active dogs and puppies.

● There are various sports for every type of dog, and even if your dog is reactive with other canines, these are viable options.

● Some of these are team dog sports, and other dog sports are strictly one handler and one canine.

Active Breeds love Dog Sports

If you adopted a dog or puppy during the pandemic or live with an active breed, then getting involved in dog sports is for you! So many people are at home, and many behavioral experts are hearing about pets displaying anxiety as dog owners are starting to leave for the office again. Some animals are also showing signs of fear and having issues adapting to new homes. With that in mind, many owners are afraid of separation anxiety becoming a problem and looking for ways to help dogs that are under socialized due to Covid-19.

Pet adoptions are up

According to Nielsen survey data, from July 2020, 20% of respondents said they adopted one or more dogs and cats between March and June, which is up from less than 5% over the same period in 2019, USA Today reports. It’s time to introduce all these dogs to some sports!

Nose Work is a Sport Where each Dog Hunts for Odor Individually

Many of these dog sports also allow pet parents to social distance. For example, nose work is a sport where each dog hunts for odor individually, and this activity is not a team sport. Many pet parents can start this sport while Oregon and Washington begin to open up, and more folks are vaccinated.


What is it?

Flyball - Dog Sports
Dog’s name is Pixel and the flyball team is the “Portland Tail Blazers” Photo by Crystal Beck, Owner Nancy Westrell.

Flyball is a team sport. According to the North American Flyball Association, flyball races match two teams of four dogs each, racing side-by-side over a 51-foot long course.

Each dog must run in relay fashion down the jumps, trigger a flyball box, releasing the ball, retrieve the ball, and return over the jumps.

The next dog is released to run the course but can’t cross the start/finish line until the previous dog has returned over all four jumps and reached the start/finish line.

The first team to have all four dogs finish the course without error wins the heat.

Resources to contact

The North American Flyball Association

Disc Dog

What is it?

Disc Dog
Toss and Fetch Vancouver Practice, credit: Photographer, Ray Lundrigan Photography

Disc dog is commonly called Frisbee dog. In disc dog competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and choreographed freestyle catching. The term “disc” is preferred because  “Frisbee” is trademarked. Make sure you’re a good throwing partner!

There are three formats:

1. Toss and fetch: Contestants have 60 seconds to mark as many throws as possible on a field marked with increasingly longer distances. Dogs are awarded points for catches based on the distance of the throw!

2. Freestyle: This format is similar to freestyle events like the skateboard half-pipe. The team consists of one person and one canine. The length of the routine might be anywhere from one minute and 30 seconds to two full minutes. There are a variety of categories!

3. Long distance: This format is older than all other disc dog competition formats. There is a Quadruped Series, a group of competitions that are a points championship in the U.S.

There is even a tiny dog category! If you want to join a disc league, contact Toss and Fetch!

Resources to contact

K9 Nosework

K9 Nosework - Dog Sports
Sherm during a vehicle search, credit: Nosework Trial Pic

What is it?

Classes, in the beginning, are low-tech. The first 4-5 weeks (pending the teacher) will consist of food in boxes about the shape of a shoebox. Your dog will hunt for something delicious to let them know that boxes pay “hot dogs.”

Some dogs wear harnesses which they know means they’re going to work! Wearing a harness means something REALLY delicious like hot dogs or meatballs is coming their way.

credit: Jeff Wyatt, video. Handler, Nancy Westrell with her dog, Rowan during an interior search.

There are three odors, birch, anise, and clove.

Birch is the “beginner’s odor,” so you start with birch as the odor added to the shoebox exercise. Then the dogs associate that the odor pays! Practice makes perfect. After many rounds of this very fun game, you’ll ultimately move past boxes or containers. Some dogs enjoy hunting for odor on vehicles!

Our staff’s suggestion for at-home play.
(this is SUPER basic, and anyone can do this with their dog…)

● Search for nose work odor kits online

● Grab shoe boxes or pizza boxes (8-10 is the top)

● Designate one box as the odor box and poke holes in the top

● This odor box should have the odor in it (follow the directions in your odor kit on how to apply odor to a Q-tip)

● Then pair only this box with food (hot dogs)

● For newbies – as SOON as they get to the box with odor and show interest, reward with a party of treats! Open the box and let them also eat the treat in the box; feed for about five seconds continuously next to the odor in the box.


National Association of Canine Scent Work

Canine Freestyle (an ‘obedience’ sport)

What is it?

If you look up the definition, you’ll find this description. “Musical Freestyle, freestyle dance, and canine freestyle is a modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners.

The sport has developed into competition forms in several countries around the world.” This dog sport is all about teamwork. Dogs and handlers are judged on creativity and overall artistic manner.


Canine Freestyle

Dock Dogs

Dock Dogs

What is it?

You may have seen a dock diving event at a local state fair or outdoor event during the summer months.

There are three categories:

1. Big Air is a “long jump for dogs.” The dog, which may be placed anywhere on the 40′ dock runs and jumps into the water after a throw toy (provided by the handler) is tossed.

2. Extreme Vertical is a “high jump” for dogs. The dog starts at the 20’ mark on the dock and jumps up to grab a bumper toy extended out 8’ from the end of the dock over the water.

3. Speed Retrieve is a “timed event.” At the far end of the pool, a bumper toy is suspended 2” above the water with a starting indicator light above it. The dog is then placed at the 20’ white starting mark on the dock, when the light turns green, the handler releases the dog, the time clock stops when the dog has pulled the toy from the Speed Retrieve bracket.

You can watch Dock Dog T.V.


Dock Dogs

If you have questions about dog gear you may need for any of these sports, our staff can help guide you in the right direction. 

Resources for readers: