Although a hunting dog by breeding and development, the Dachshund is very versatile and can compete in many different types of events and activities. Their nature curiosity, high level of self-confidence and ability to learn quickly makes them terrific dogs for different activities including modified agility, obedience and of course different types of hunting and tracking events.
Obedience work with a Dachshund is a bit of a challenge for the owners as well as for the dog. These little dogs have a real mind of their own and while they may be obedient they also do like to do things on their own time and as it seems best in their own reasoning. Those owners that do work with the Dachshund on routine obedience with lots of small food rewards, attention and praise will find that a Dachshund can be highly obedient, but it does take work and practice. Since these dogs love to learn tricks they can often go well beyond basic obedience work and really amaze you with how fast they can learn.
Modified types of agility courses that don't require the dog to jump or climb are great for the Dachshund. Often agility classes for fun or those that are set up by Dachshund groups or breed clubs will only use activities that are safe for the breed and don't risk back injuries associated with the jumping parts of other agility courses. They do outstanding in running through tunnels, doing the pole weaving component and also completing going over and through different obstacles that are appropriately sized and secured.
One very popular event across the United States is Dachshund racing. This is not at all similar to the much more commercialize Greyhound racing or the American Sight Hound Association lure courses and oval track types of racing. Dachshund racing tends to be much more fun and much less commercial, but it is nevertheless a great way to spend time with your dog. These events, one of the biggest annual races is held in Budha, Texas, attract crowds of thousands of Dachshund lovers and owners to the races, parade and information sessions about the breed. The races are over a very short, straight course and are typically held in conjunction with animal charities and annual Dachshund Rescue operations fund raising drives. Dogs just need to be able to run as fast as they can to their owner who is located on the finish end of the very short grassy track.
More serious types of competitions including field trials are also developed for the Dachshund as with any scent hunting breed. These trials are designed to test the scenting ability of the Dachshund and not to encourage or allow any type of aggression or prey type aggression within the breed. The Dachshund types of hunting trials are developed after the Beagle brace tracking competitions and don't even require the Dachshund to actually interact with the prey animal at all.
The trail competitions are held in open fields or moderately brushy areas that still provide good line of sight. Most fields are specially fenced off for the competition to prevent the Dachshund from possibly getting on a trail and getting away from their handlers. Volunteers walk through the brush in an attempt to flush out rabbits, which are the natural prey animal for the Dachshund. When a rabbit is spotted it is allowed to flee, with the person that flushed it out of hiding calling for the judge to spot or mark the location. When this occurs the judge or field marshal calls up a team of dogs, known as a brace. The handlers are able to work with the dogs to catch the rabbits scent, then the judge signals for the dogs to be released. These two dogs then are scored on how well they stay on the trail of the rabbit and how enthusiastically they look for the trail should they lose it. The judge then signals the handlers to go and retrieve the dogs off the course.
When the dogs are actually working the scent the handlers have to stay behind the judge and cannot speak to, direct or encourage the dog. In most cases several braces will be used on the same scent as the braces are called forward in very rapid succession. As with any type of trial event there are different categories and different levels of competition. In some areas the course may actually be man-made, although every effort is made to make the track as consistent and random as a normal fleeing rabbit would make.
Competing in conformation shows is very common for both working and hunting Dachshunds and those that are strictly bred as show dogs. In American Kennel Club sanctioned events a Dachshund cannot be faulted for scars or marks on the dog from hunting, but other disqualifications can occur for other factors. In general in any type of "best of breed" type of competition the dog is judged against the breed standard, not specifically against other Dachshunds in the ring. Since there are so many color combinations and sizes of Dachshund judging is difficult and requires a very well trained judge familiar with the breed standards.
Showing Dachshunds can be very rewarding but it is costly and time consuming if the owner travels to state, national and even international competitions. In most of the national and international types of events the Dachshund owners are those that are professional breeders and kennel operators. These individuals strive to breed only the best possible dogs and work very diligently to constantly improve the breed.
No matter what type of competition you may decide to enter your Dachshund in, their enthusiasm and enjoyment of being around people will definitely be evident. Working with your dog, completing daily training routines and practices and spending time socializing your dog are all key features. Since the Dachshund is a naturally outgoing breed these are typically a lot of fun to do, even if you aren't planning on competing at really high levels of events and just want to have a bit of fun.