Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.
Growing Pup logo animated
small dog running on an agility course

Top 5 Fun Puppy Sports for a Healthy and Happy Dog

10 min read

Canine sports are a great way to strengthen your bond, while also enjoying spending quality time together and building fitness for both you and your dog!

So now puppy and adolescent classes are over and you and your dog have mastered the basic training exercises, it’s time to decide what to do next. Dogs who have been trained using reward-based methods love to continue to learn and do new things.

It’s easy to think that your only option is to continue the training classes and focus solely on improving your dog’s obedience. But there are a whole range of canine activities and sports you could try. So take your time and find something both you and your dog can really enjoy.


Have a go at dog agility

One of the most popular canine sports, both to watch and to compete in, is agility. This is a fun, competitive activity done off-lead that comprises of a range of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, dog walks, A frames, and other pieces of equipment to either jump over, go through or walk along. It’s a great combination of control, teamwork and fun – and almost any dog can give it a go.

Dog agility is a very popular modern sports for dogs, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: the training and testing of your dog’s agility skills, as well as the way your dog listens to you, works with you and responds to your cues.

This canine sport first appeared at Cruft's in 1977, where it began as a small hurdle race for dogs. It was a hit with the dogs taking part, as well as their owners, and the sport became a runaway success – literally so, in the case of some mischievous and overexcited participants!

But what actually is dog agility?

  • In dog agility, your dog moves through an obstacle course with your guidance.
  • Dogs run off lead, so your only controls are voice and body language, requiring some exceptional obedience training and advanced teamwork.

Many people think agility is only for Border Collies and their super-fit owners but actually most breeds and types of dogs can do agility with varying degrees of success and huge amounts of enjoyment. There are competitions for dogs of various sizes including mini agility, or you can just do it for fun and for the social opportunities it provides for you and your dog.

Both dog and owner need a degree of fitness, and while your adolescent dog is still too young to jump and to do any of the bits of equipment that are off the ground, many agility clubs have a young beginner's class where you can learn to do some of the other bits of equipment such as the tunnels and weaves and practice your basic control ready to start more serious agility training when your dog is older.

All that moving around will help keep both of you fit, and your training skills will improve every time you practise. If your dog is taking part in a competitive event accuracy and speed are important factors, but if you’re just having fun all the skills they’ve learned will still be useful – even if they insist on running under the hurdle rather than jumping over it! You can find out more about dog agility and related nationwide events on The Kennel Club website.

Agility is a great sport for improving your control and building your dog’s confidence.


Try out flyball

This is a far more energetic affair. This competitive team sport runs like a relay race on a knockout basis. 

Flyball is an obstacle race involving two teams of four dogs. In the game, dogs from each team spring over a series of jumps (usually four), run to a box, activate a catapult machine with their front paws, catch the ball that flies out and race all the way back to the start. The team that finishes first wins, but no matter who comes out on top there’s no doubt that everyone has loads of fun.

In flyball there are lots of interesting techniques you and your dog can learn. As well as having to clear the hurdles, your dog needs to keep a smooth approach and land well to cover the maximum amount of distance in the least time possible. A tight turn at the catapult box can mean the difference between winning and losing, so there’s lots of fun to be had training, too. If your dog loves to catch balls and run at full speed off the lead, just imagine what they can do in a flyball race! This isn’t a sport for dogs who get over-aroused or reactive however – as, while it is fun, it is a pretty noisy, crazy environment.

This can be a good skill for your dog to try their paw at, and you can have a great time adding another string to your training bow even if you have no intention of competing. And who knows… you could get addicted! You can find out more about flyball on The Kennel Club website.


Heelwork to music

Often thought of as ‘dancing with your dog’, if you are a fan of Strictly, and want to brush up your training and have fun, then this could well be the activity for you. Involving cooperation and coordination - and a love of music - this sport is great for dogs that enjoy obedience but want to add a bit of flare. And the best part is, you have just as much involvement as they do!

Competitive Heelwork to Music involves working out a four-minute routine that comprises of heelwork in various positions mixed with a variety of tricks that is performed in front of a group of judges. Freestyle is very similar but is a lot freer and the dogs often work at a distance from their owners. Just like ballroom dancing however it is a great social exercise and you can have just as much fun at home or within your training club. Training involves learning through play, improving your general control, mastering new tricks, and of course putting it all to music.

dog dancing to music

Unlike many dog sports, speed isn't important here, but success is based on the way you and your dog work together. With leg weaves and other skills incorporated into a routine, you really are ‘dancing’ with your dog, making this relaxed yet skilled pastime a great way to spend time with your canine dance partner.

You can find out more about heelwork to music at The Kennel Club website.

Dogs of all sizes and breeds can enjoy it and even compete at the highest levels, but it does need you to perfect your training and obedience skills as well as your dancing and coordination!


Work out with Canicross

The name comes from a mixture of ‘canine’ and ‘cross country’ and the sport is exactly that - running off-road with your dog. The dog runs out in front of the following vocal directions while wearing a comfortable padded harness attached to a waistband of the owner by a 2m bungee.

Canicross provides a great physical workout for both you and your dog – and the use of vocal directions helps your dog use their brains as well as building their confidence. Owners in turn benefit from having their own canine personal fitness trainer who will encourage them to run faster and farther, and both will benefit from the increased fitness and exercise.

For both dog and owner however serious fitness is a must – couch potatoes should definitely not apply!

Improve your teamwork with rally

This sport is a cross between obedience and an obstacle course! It differs from obedience in that dogs and their owners attempt a pre-set course with up to 15 signs along the route telling you what to do at each point. At the lower levels, these are all simple exercises done on a lead such as sit or turn but get harder, much more complex and are done off lead at higher levels. This is a sport that improves general training and teamwork in a less formal setting than traditional obedience.



Dog obedience doesn’t involve lots of high-speed chasing or coordinated dancing, but it does mean your dog will stretch their levels of concentration and motivation – and yours, too! As the name suggests, it’s all about your dog’s obedience and their training.

This popular and useful dog sport takes basic training to the next level with exercises such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘heel’, and retrieving things when asked. Accuracy and immediacy are key here.

If your dog becomes good at this, you can move into higher levels with more challenging things such as distance control, scent discrimination and asking them to ‘stay’ for longer periods of time.

It’s not as fast as some dog sports, but it is a serious test of your training skills and your dog's focus and ability to show their obedience expertise precisely and without distraction.  

You can find out more about obedience training and events on The Kennel Club website.


Dog diving

Dog diving is a relatively new dog sport, and it’s perfect for all those fearless pups who love to splash around in the water. Hugely popular in the US, where it began as ‘dock diving’, dog diving is now a big crowd pleaser at UK exhibitions and events. The sport involves canine competitors taking it in turns to dive off a ramp into a pool of water to retrieve a toy. Quite simply, the winner is the dog that jumps the furthest. And don't worry about the dogs taking part: you can see the fun they have in the wagging of their tails and the enthusiastic way they launch themselves into the water!

This isn’t a sport for everyone however – it takes a real water baby of a dog who is happy to hurl themselves out into the water. For many, this is a hard ‘no’!

Flying disc

Flying disc is another favourite in the world of dog sports, although you'll probably know it better as playing dog Frisbee in the park. Chances are you’ve already played a game with your dog; at its simplest, flying disc is about you throwing the disc, and your agile dog running and catching it.

The sport got its start in the early 1970s, when Frisbee was a popular sport for humans. The definitive moment came in August of 1974 when US college student Alex Stein jumped the fence at a nationally broadcast baseball game with an amazing dog named Ashley Whippet!

Ashley astonished the crowd with eight minutes of catching flying discs, running at 35mph and leaping nine feet in the air to catch them as they flew. The stunt was so novel that the baseball game was stopped, and commentators continued to announce the action to a hooked audience. Alex was eventually escorted off the field, but a new sport had been born!

This is a sport that requires an extremely high level of canine fitness – and even then, the leaping and twisting can cause injuries, and so training needs to be built up slowly.

If your dog plays competitively, the ‘catch and retrieve’ event is the main part of the sport. In a timed round (usually of about a minute), teams of one dog and their owner attempt to make as many throws and catches as possible. Teams score the most points for long throw and catch combinations, but in other versions, some freestyling might be involved – so look out for some serious party tricks! If your dog loves a good game of throw and catch, or they’re good at jumping and catching things mid-air and are super fit, this might just be the sport for you.

These are just a few of the many sports and activities you can do with your dog and for these, and ideas on others, the best starting point to talk to your local dog training class.

As your dog is still young, check with your vet before you start any new activity to ensure they are physically fit and mature enough to take on the new challenge – and have fun!

And if both of you are already in playing mode, check out our puppy brain games and puzzles tips for even more fun bonding ideas. Or find out all you need to know about puppy exercise from this in-depth article.