As most people that own dogs or just enjoy being around dogs have come to realize, each and every dog really has his or her own personality. There are definite breed characteristics, but not all dogs, even purebreds, are exactly the same in what they enjoy, how athletic they are or even how much natural talent and instincts they may posses.
Almost anyone can recall stories of a Labrador that wouldn't fetch, a Border Collie that couldn't herd or a German Shepherd that was more of a welcoming dog than a guard dog. Since there are so many different personality types and athletic abilities in different dogs, finding the right sport or activity to match with your pet can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.
There are some rather unique and interesting types of dog sports played and trained in different parts of the world that may actually be a perfect match for your dog, regardless of his or her breed. Most of these sports require very little in the way of specialized equipment and they can also be a lot of fun either as a competitive type of event or just an activity to do with your dog.
Flyball is a great example of a team dog sport that has gained popularity around the world. In this fun and entertaining event teams of dogs, usually four similar sized dogs or mixed sized teams, work in a relay fashion to complete a course. The first group of dogs that have all run the course relay style is considered the winner, provided they aren't penalized during the race.
Each dog will be required to run down a 51 foot straight length of track, going over four separate hurdles on the way down, jumping on a spring loaded box that releases a tennis ball, catching the ball and running back to the start line to allow the next dog to be released. Often the teams include dogs of all different sizes from Jack Russell Terriers to German Shepherds, but by far the most common breed seen in Flyball events is the Border Collie.
The great thing about Flyball is that it is very competitor friendly and any dog and owner can compete regardless of age, breed or pedigree. Even mixed breed dogs that aren't registered can become champions at the Flyball events. Some teams of Flyball dogs intentionally have a smaller breed since the size of the smallest dog on the team sets the jump heights for the entire team of dogs.
Flyball is often seen as a full competition with hundreds of teams converging on an arena or field area for weekend long competitions. Since the races are so fast and yet also so entertaining there is a big following even among non-competitive dog owners and those just interested in having a great family time.
Frisbee competitions with dogs have really evolved from the simple exhibition event at half time shows for sporting events they first started out as. In most competitions the event is known as Disc competition to avoid any possible trademark infringement with the Frisbee name.
In disc competitions dogs compete against the clock as well as each other. Toss and fetch events allow the handler to throw a disc as many times as possible in 60 seconds with the dog given points for each successful catch. Dogs that are able to jump up and catch the disc in the air earn additional points, as do longer distance throws and catches.
In freestyle types of disc competitions the dog and owner work together to choreograph, sometimes to music, a variety of trick types of catches. The dogs may jump into the air in twisting and difficult styles of jumps, use vaults to gain height as well as use multiple discs for some amazingly fast types of repetitive catches.
Like Flyball, any breed of dog regardless of lineage can be seen in a disc dog event. Typically the dogs tend to be medium to larger breeds although a Whippet named Ashley Whippet is largely credited with the current popularity of the sport due to her unscheduled demonstration of her Frisbee catching skills during a 1974 televised baseball game.
Dock jumping is the perfect sport for those dogs that just can't wait to get into the water. In this sport the dog and owner start at a particular point on a dock determined by the handler, then a chase object, usually a ball or floating toy is thrown into the water and the dog runs, leaps of the dock and lands in the water. It is similar to long jump for humans in that the winning dog is the dog whose hindquarters entered the water the farthest from the dock. Although typically retriever types of breeds and mixed breed dogs are seen in dock jumping, other breeds are always welcome. A slight variation on dock jumping is pool jumping, which involves the dog jumping into a pool rather than a lake. In both of these competitions the surface of the dock or pool is covered with a non-skid material to prevent slipping or possible injury.
Rally-O, also known as Rally obedience, is an up and coming sport that is popular in both the United States as well as in the United Kingdom. In this even the dog and the handler go around a set course as a team, with each position or spot along the course providing a sign that indicate what the dog is to do at that particular spot. Between the stations the dog stays in the heel position with the handler.
There are several different types of Rally-O competitions from AKC sanctioned events that only allow AKC registered breeds through to competitions for any breed or mixed breed dog. Any type of size of dog can enter in the event depending on the sanctioning group. All dogs start in the novice category and can be on a leash, then they progress through the advanced, which is judged off leash, through to the highest level which is considered the excellent ranking.