Top 5 Fun Puppy Sports for a Healthy and Happy Pup
So now puppy 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 options are to continue the training classes and focus solely on improving your dog’s obedience. But there are a whole range of puppy activities and sports you could try. So take your time and find something both you and your puppy can really enjoy.
Have a go at puppy agility
One of the most popular canine sports, both to watch and to compete in, is puppy agility. This is a fun, competitive activity done off-lead that comprises of a range of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, puppy walks, and other pieces of equipment to either jump over, go through or walk along.
Many people think agility is only for Border Collies and their super-fit owners but actually most puppies 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 puppy.
Both dog and owner need a degree of fitness, and while your adolescent dog is still too young to jump, many agility clubs have a puppy 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.
Puppy 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 on a knockout basis. Two teams of four dogs compete at the same time, with the dogs running in turn down a lane of four jumps, collecting a tennis ball from a purpose-designed box at the end and running back over the jumps. This can be a good skill for your puppy to master 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!
Heelwork to music
Often thought of as ‘dancing with your dog’, if you want to brush up your training and have fun, then this could well be the activity for you. 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 – but just like ballroom dancing, 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.
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 puppy. The dog runs out in front following directional commands while wearing a comfortable padded harness that is attached to a waistband of the owner by a 2m bungee line.
Canicross provides a great physical workout for both you and your dog – and the use of directional commands 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.
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.
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.