dog playing with stick at a park in the city

Active Dog

March 01, 2023

What Are Dog Sports? 10+ Dog Sports to Try With Your Dog!

Do you love trying new things with your dog? You might just love dog sports! Dog sports are a great way to not only build a deeper bond with your dog, but also provide both mental and physical stimulation for your dog. With over 10+ different dog sports out there covering many different skills like swimming, scent work, speed and more, there truly is something out there for every dog and owner.

Below are 11 different dog sports that you can try with your dog plus helpful information about each!

dog playing with stick at a park in the city

1. Agility​

Do you have a super energetic dog? They might just love dog agility! The dog sport of agility challenges your dog to go through an obstacle course filled with jumps, tunnels, ramps and more! Dog agility is a great form of physical and mental exercise for your dog and is available for dogs of all sizes and breeds (both purebred and mixed breed dogs).

There are always tons of dog shows and competitions going on that you can attend to see if it would be something you'd want to try! If you love it, search dog agility classes near me and you'll be sure to find an awesome training facility where you can begin learning with your dog.

2. Conformation

The second dog sport and most common at all dog shows is conformation. Conformation is only available to purebred dogs that are NOT spayed or neutered. If you've ever watched the National Dog Show after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or any dog show, you've probably seen the different dogs chosen to represent their breed. Those dogs all went through a conformation class that is designed to see how well each dog matches that specific breed standard. 

To participate, your dog must be six months or older on the day of the show, be registered by AKC and be a recognized breed of AKC. 

3. Scent Work

The third dog sport is designed for all of our hounds and other dog breeds out there that love to do their favorite thing...smelling! Welcome to dog scent work. Scent work for dogs is another dog sport open to both purebred and mixed breed dogs and is designed to challenge a dog to find a specific scent given to them.

There are two different divisions that your dog can compete in:

  • Odor Search Division:Your dog is searching for a specific scent like an essential oil
  • Handler Discrimination Division:Your dog is searching for the scent of its owner

Both divisions have four difficulty levels, providing numerous amounts of challenges and fun for both you and your dog. 

4. Dock Diving

Does your dog love to swim? You should try dock diving! Dog dock diving is a dog sport where your dog runs and jumps off a diving dock into a big pool to retrieve their favorite water dog toy (also known as a bumper). This sport is judged on distance and is marked by where your dog's hind end touches the water! This sport is open to purebred and mixed breed dogs.

There are different groups of distances that will put your dog into different categories starting with Novice (jumping up to 9'11") all the way to the Premier Division (28'0" and above). 

At dock diving competitions, in addition to the distance jumping, your dog can also compete in other fun events such as:

  • Hydrodash:A timed event where your dog jumps off the dock into the pool and retrieves the dog toy at the end and brings it back. The dog with the fastest time wins!
  • Air Retrieve:A dog toy is suspended over the pool and your dog must either grab it or completely remove it from the hanging equipment. Dogs get two attempts at 90 seconds each and the dog to knock the bumper down at the farthest distance wins!

5. Obedience

Do you love practicing basic or more advanced commands with your dog? You should compete in obedience! Obedience is open to both purebred and mixed breed dogs and has three levels of competition: Novice, Open and Utility. You can sign up for many dog obedience classes near you that will help teach you the commands needed for competition and of course everyday life!

For more information on competing in obedience, check out this helpful article on Obedience from the American Kennel Club

6. Rally

The sixth dog sport, Rally, is another amazing dog sport that is based on teamwork between both you and your dog. While in a heel position with your dog on the left, you and your dog will navigate a course with 10-20 different signs, each stating the next task to do. This event is timed, but the number one goal is to complete each task correctly while keeping your dog under control. 

This dog sport is a favorite to watch because the teamwork between both dog and owner can be so incredibly seen! This dog sport is available for both purebred and mixed breed dogs.

7. Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test)

Do you have a dog that loves to chase? We think we've found your dog sport; Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test)! If you've ever wondered how fast your dog is, this dog sport features a 100-yard dash where dogs run individually chasing a lure. 

This dog sport is incredibly fun to watch and it's always exciting to see how fast each dog really is.

8. Barn Hunt

Do you have a dog that loves to find vermin and pests like rats? Try a Barn Hunt! The dog sport of Barn Hunting is where rats are safely placed in aerated tubes and hidden throughout a maze of straw or hay bales. During the Barn Hunt, you and your dog will work as a team to find them together. 

Some breeds are made for this like Dachshunds or Terriers, but according to AKC: "as long as your dog can fit through an 18" wide by bale-height tall tunnel, he's eligible!".

This dog sport has 10 different titles your dog can achieve and is open to both purebred and mixed breed dogs.

9. Lure Coursing

Does your dog lose its mind the second it sees a squirrel while on a walk? If you answered yes, Lure Coursing is for you! Somewhat similar to Fast CAT, in Lure Coursing, dogs chase a mechanized white plastic lure around a 600+ yard course. With different twists and turns, your dog will have a blast chasing their "prey". 

This dog is only open to specific recognized breeds by AKC. To see if your dog is eligible, check out this helpful article from AKC about Lure Coursing for more information.

If you have a mixed breed dog who you think would love this, definitely try Fast CAT instead!

10. Field Trials

Do you like to take your dog hunting or have a pointing/retrieving/herding breed like a Labrador, German Shorthaired Pointer or Spaniel? You and your dog might love Field Trials! 

Field Trials is a category of performance dog sports that actually has many different kinds that are available to many different breeds as well as some breed specific events (for example Beagles, Coonhounds, Retrievers and Dachshunds).

One well-known Field Trial group is with Retrievers. The owner will shoot a mark in the air, allow it to land randomly in the field, and then ask the dog to retrieve it and bring it back to them. The trial is judged on a handful of different factors including how well your dog marks the fall, the delivery of bird and more.

To learn more about many other Field Trial types, check out this helpful article from AKC about Performance Dog Sports.

11. Flyball

Last but not least is Flyball! Flyball is one of the only dog sports where your dog competes on a team. This dog sport is a relay race where each dog runs over a set of low hurdles to reach a box. Once they've reached it, they then push on the spring loaded pad to release a tennis ball that they grab and race back with to their owner. Once the dog comes back, the next dog on the team goes!

There are four different titles your dog can achieve with this dog sport and it is open to both purebred and mixed breed dogs!

If you love fast paced events, you'll have a blast watching a Flyball competition!

large black and brown dog playing with a stick

So, what did you think? Did you find a dog sport that you think you and your dog will love? With so many fun options available, there truly is something out there for every owner and every breed! If you found one that you love, make sure to tag us in your photos @carlsonpetproducts on Instagram so we can see all of the fun you're having with your dog!