Canine athletes can participate in a wide variety of events these days such as agility, lure coursing, fly ball, free style, dock diving… and many more!
All dogs need appropriate exercise. Canine sports (e.g., agility, fly ball) and shared sporting activities between you and your dog (e.g., running, hiking) may be an option for providing additional mental stimulation and physical activity beyond their daily walks or playtime in their yard. While most healthy dogs can enjoy a range of canine athletic activities, it is important to have your pet evaluated prior to starting athletic or shared physical activities to be sure they are not only generally healthy but can manage the additional mental and physical activity.
There are a growing number of formal canine sports. Some examples include:
- Dock diving
- Fly ball
- Lure Coursing
- Rally obedience
- And many more!
But there are also a number of shared sporting activities in which people include their dogs, such as the following.
- Kayaking or paddleboarding
- Hiking (in all climates!)
- Dog sledding (hobby or amateur level)
There are many things to consider not only in formal canine sports but also in being able to rely on a canine partner for shared sporting activities such as running, hiking, etc. For example, it is critically important muscle and skeletal development be appropriately matured (e.g., 18-24 months of age) before dogs begin running more than ~1 mile routinely. The significantly increased force of running on long bones can cause damage to growth plates, even after full growth has occurred. Additionally, some breeds are more suited as running partners than others (e.g., Rhodesian Ridgeback, Weimaraner) due to their physical conformation, long nose, and competent respiratory tract, etc.