Sport with dogSports and play are just as important to dogs as they are to humans. Through play and sports, we are able to get some exercise to stay fit and healthy. This is the same thing with dogs. Through play and sports, dogs are able to have something to keep them occupied, develop coordination and strength. Play and sports are also a good way for dogs to learn about their environment an surroundings.

Since dogs need sports and play for their physical and mental development, owners should take advantage of this need and make it the basis for teaching your dog the fundamentals of obedience training. Sports such as flyball and frisbee are a great way to give your dog physical and mental challenge other than the basic obedience. It is also useful for dogs who have become bored with their old basic obedience training. Such sports provide an outlet for dogs. They enable them to "blow off steam" in a constructive manner, plus build up your dogs confidence.

How to prepare for canine sports

To prepare yourself and your dog, first establish a daily routine. Have specific play times so your dog will remember and not bother you at all hours of the day. Hide your sports equipments where your dog cannot see them.

All dogs, regardless of breed, must be examined by its veterinarian before you can put him/her through the new sports regimen. Some breeds are prone to certain developmental bone problems which will render them unable to tolerate lengthy and very stressful exercises. Always remember, before you actually start playing, warm up your dog with an energetic walk or trot. For sports like agility, remember that you (the owner) should also be in good shape. This sport requires you to run alongside your pet and guiding him on the course.

Keep in mind also, that more than anything, you want your dog to develop his abilities and further hone his skills. However, pushing him too hard is not the key. Remember, your dog is attached to you so he would naturally want to please you. Make the sport enjoyable for your dog. It is more important that he gets enough exercise and have time to socialize during play time rather than be pushed to achieve record-breaking feats. Keep your dog mentally alert during play time so that he can develop his potential.

How to choose the right sport

Not all dogs can play all kinds of sports and games. To choose the suitable sport for your dog, consider his breed. All 400 or so species of dogs can be categorized into the following:

Sporting Dogs – includes Retrievers, Setters, and Spaniels. Dogs in this category thriven on intensive athletic activities. Apart from this, they also want to please their owners, which makes them perfect for sports like retrieving games, agility or fly ball and make a good jogging.

Herding Dogs – includes Collies and Shepherds. Dogs in this group also have innate athletic abilities. Since dogs in this group were originally bred for endurance and stamina, they excel in sports like agility. Their innate herding tendencies provide them with a unique jumping style and grace that make them particularly suitable for sports like Frisbee.

Working Dogs – includes Rottweilers, Huskies, and Newfoundland’s. Working dogs are characteristically quick learners. They can readily master almost any sport, including carting or sledding. A word of caution though, be careful not to encourage these dogs’ natural protective instincts.

Terriers – Terriers are naturally self-confident and have high activity levels. They are fearless competitors and they enjoy the challenges of most sports. However, the most suitable sport for your Terrier depends on his personality and physical prowess.

Toy Breeds – includes Maltese, Shih Tzu, and Pomeranian. Dogs of this group are small, bright and agile. However, joint problems are common for this group so most strenuous sports and activities are not suitable for them. And take extra care to modify typical agility course equipments to meet their size restrictions.

Though almost any breed can be taught to play or participate in a sport, not all dogs will excel. Also, there are breeds that have a tendency to develop skeletal problems which makes pushing them to exercise hard not advisable. And, dogs with short muzzles or flat noses should both be put through all-out exercises (these means most sports are not suitable for them) because they will have difficulty in breathing especially in warm weather.

Consider your dog’s temperament

Finally, to choose a sport for your pet, consider his temperament. There are generally four temperament types:

Dominant – dominant dogs are usually the hardest to train. They challenge authority and require a firma hand and consistency. Make sure you define when the game starts and ends and your expectations when your dominant dog participates in a competitive sport.

Self-assured – self-assured dogs normally welcome new experiences quite readily. But, remember to still maintain a firm hand since these dogs also test authority and test boundaries.

Timid – timid dogs need experienced trainers to bring out their potential. Consistency plus a gentle but firm tone usually works. However, do not let yourself be misled by your dog’s shyness as he is also very good at manipulating you to achieve his own goals. A sport that allows you to play together with your timid dog can strengthen your bond and help him gain self-confidence.

Fearful – fearful dogs can be taught to play seeking, retrieving, freestyle, and agility, as these are individualized sports. Fearful dogs find competitions which challenge them alone to be confidence boosting.