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Dog sports in the UK are becoming increasingly popular. Owners love to do activities that involve their dog, it not only gets them active but builds on the bond and relationship they share. Registered Veterinary Nurse, Katie Alder from Vet's Klinic, talks to Vet Know-how about the different dog sports available in the UK.
Agility training is where a handler sends the dog around a course of obstacles whilst being timed. These range from jumps and tunnels, to a see-saw, 'a-frames' and a 'dog-walk'. The course must be completed in the correct order with the canine touching the contact areas on the ends of the agility equipment; this ensures they do not leap off and use the skill and precision required.
Errors such as missing these contacts, or knocking the jumps down incur faults. Again, any breed can take part, but the speed and precision of border collies seem to make them a favourite for this dog sport.
Flyball is a great sport for any tennis ball crazy dog! The dog must jump over four hurdles and activate a lever by hitting a box that releases a tennis ball. They must catch the ball and run back over the hurdles with the ball in their mouth.
Flyball training is a team sport, where the quickest relay team is the winner.
Four dogs make up a heat and are run in one lane, against one other team in another lane. It is very fast paced and action packed! It is suitable for all breeds, although collie types see to be preferential. The jumps are set at different heights according to the sizes of the dogs in the team, so a small fast dog is an asset to a team as the jumps can be lowered for everyone.
They are generally set at between 8-14 inches high. Faults can be incurred by bad changeovers within the team, where one dog sets off on the course through time gates before the other has completed.
Two newer up and coming sports for dogs are Dock Diving and Canicross.
Dock diving is a great summer sport, where dogs dive into water from a dock, and the distance of their jump is measured. It is basically doggy long jump! Usually a ball or toy is thrown into the pool with the dog jumping in after it. This doggy sport is big in America, and has started to move over to the UK.
Canicross is a fun activity for dogs and their owners, and is great for fitness enthusiasts, who like to run! A special harness type belt is attached to both the runner and their pooch as they complete a run together of either 2 or 5km. It requires no special training or dog obedience, just fitness on behalf of both parties! Huskies are great at this, as they have a natural instinct to pull and run, and it is great to tire them out both mentally and physically.
There are so many more sports for dogs out there that you and your pet can enjoy. Not only do they provide a great opportunity for you to get active and have some fun with your dog, it's the perfect chance to get to know other owners in your local area.