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Doggie Tricks and Sport

You can't teach a dog new tricks…or can you? You can certainly teach Dogs to play any number of new and exciting sports that are great fun for you as well as your dog.  In some cases you may need special accessories or a particular venue. But if you are handy and creative, you can train at home too. It's not all about competition, some keen sports stars never take part in organised events, but many Dogs recognise that they are competing and really enjoy it - especially when they win!

Here are some of the most popular canine sports.

Agility
Agility is the most popular of the modern sports for Dogs. The discipline first appeared at Cruft's in 1977, with a small hurdle race for Dogs. The Dogs seemed to like it and the sport became (literally) a runaway success.

Dog agility is a sport in which a dog moves through an obstacle course with the guidance of his handler. Dogs run off leash, so the handler's only controls are voice and body language, requiring exceptional obedience training of the animal. In competition, both accuracy and speed are important.

You can find out more about agility and agility events nationwide on The Kennel Club website at

Flyball
Dogs just love flyball - and it's a great sport to watch as well as play! Flyball is a race involving two teams of four Dogs. The Dogs spring over a series of jumps (usually four), run to a box, activate a catapult machine with their forepaws, catch the ball that flies out and race back to the start.

To do its best the dog has to not just clear the hurdles, but keep a smooth approach and landing to clear the maximum distance in a minimum of time. The turn at the box can mean the difference between winning and losing, so a lot of effort goes into teaching the dog to do it well.

Obedience
A more relaxed sport, Obedience nevertheless requires extremely high levels of concentration and motivation from both Dogs and their owners. The sport involves elementary disciplines such as 'Sit', 'Down', or 'Heel' and retrieving. But it progresses to cover tests of character, like controlling Dogs at a distance.

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

Dog Diving
A relatively new sport, 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 diving from a ramp into a pool of water to retrieve a toy. The winner is the dog that dives the furthest. And don't worry about the competitors: you can see the fun they have in the wagging of their tails.

Flying disc
Flying Disc is another of the dog sports that catches the eye, although you'll probably know it better as playing Frisbee in the park! The sport got its start in the early 1970s, paralleling the rise in popularity of human Frisbee sport. But 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 frisbees, running 35 mph and leaping 9 feet in the air to snag discs. The stunt was so novel that the game was stopped and commentators continued to announce the action on the field. Alex was escorted off the field. But the seed was planted and a new sport was born.
 
Competitively the catch and retrieve event is the backbone of the sport. It consists of a timed round where teams of one dog and one thrower, attempt to make as many successful throws/catches as possible before time runs out - rounds usually last one minute. Teams score more points for longer throw/catch combinations, so watch out for some serious party tricks!

Heelwork to music
Popularly known as 'Dog Dancing', this fascinating activity has recently developed and expanded very rapidly. Speed and punctuality aren´t important, but cooperation and co-ordination between dog and owner are vital to success. The dog and his owner make one team and dance according to the music.

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