The majority of the clients I see, want to have a well behaved pet dog that they can take anywhere. They’re sometimes surprised when I encourage them to explore the world of dog sports as a means to achieve their goal.
Dog sports aren’t all about competing and winning ribbons with your dog. In fact if you’re getting the best of it you’ll find you have built a stronger relationship with your dog, you get out and expand your social circle with fun dog loving people and most importantly you’re more likely to achieve your goal of having a well behaved pet dog that you can take most places!
So let’s break down how it all works…
When you choose to train in a dog sport (any dog sport) you are making a commitment to learning something right along with your dog. If you train in your chosen sport in a positive and fun filled way then your relationship with your dog will greatly be enhanced.
This builds up focus on you around distractions and a sense of trust. It is crucial is keep training fun! Remember that’s why we have our dogs in the first place.
If you’ve chosen a dog sport that your dog loves then it can provide amazing benefits for your dog. For example, I regularly see clients with their dogs in my tracking classes where the dog gets to use their most powerful sense – smell! – along with their brain. In tracking, the handler has to learn to trust their dog and we see confidence increase in the dog.
Practice of Crucial Obedience Skills
No matter what sport we choose there’s an opportunity for our dogs to learn skills that help them behave in different situations. Almost all the sports I’ve participated in have helped my dogs learn to focus on me, work around distractions, wait their turn, travel well and more! The best part is the sports are often super fun and it doesn’t feel arduous or dull to practice.
Socialization (the best kind) for both Dogs and Humans
When you participate in many dog sports your dog gets the opportunity to learn to behave around other dogs but not necessarily engage with them. This is a great skill for pet dogs to learn because it makes them easier to bring new places. They learn that other dogs are great but their role is to focus on you.
An added bonus is that you can often meet wonderful human friends too. I know when I moved cities this was the perfect way for me to make friends in my area who share similar values to me.
So if you choose to participate in dog sports you’ll gain some wonderful experiences and relationship building. If you stumped on what sport would be best try thinking of things from your dog’s perspective first – what do they like to do? And then also consider your time commitment. Some sports require practice several times per week, others can be once in awhile. I even play some sports where I can practice only once per month and be successful. So take in account what you can commit to and enjoy as well. Dog sports can also vary in how they are offered – group classes, private lessons or even online.