Looking to try something new with your dog? Perhaps you want to give your canine companion more physical exercise or mental stimulation. One of these Dog sports in Australia could be just what you are looking for.
Dog sports can be competitive or non-competitive. Some of the benefits from getting involved in dog sports include a closer bond with your dog, a better-behaved canine companion, new friendships, and a healthier lifestyle for both you and your dog.
There are a wide variety of dog sports to choose from. When making your choice, think about your dog’s skill set and activity level, as well as the amount of time you have to devote to training.
- Dock Diving
- Fly Ball
- Dances With Dogs
- Canine Disc
- Earth Dogs
- Dog Sledding
- Herding Trials
- Track and Search
- Lure Coursing
- Rally Obedience
- Field Trials
- Retrieving for Gundogs
- Scent Work
- Trick Dogs
The concept behind dock diving is simple: you toss a toy into a pool, and your dog leaps from a dock to retrieve it, with the goal of jumping the farthest. While competitive distance-jumping is the most popular version of the sport, you’ll see a few variations—such as measuring how high a dog can jump and how fast he can retrieve a toy.
The three games are Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve.
There is no discrimination in Dock Diving. Any dog; regardless of breed, size or shape, can participate and join in on the fun. If your dog loves to play fetch and he can’t get enough of the water, perhaps you should give dock diving a try.
Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog on the team has to jump over 4 hurdles, retrieve a ball by triggering a flyball box pedal at the other end of the lane and then return over the hurdles before the next dog on the team has their turn.
There is no discrimination in Flyball. Any dog; regardless of breed, size or shape, can participate and join in on the fun.
If you are interested in getting involved please contact the Australian FlyBall Association for more information, or to find your local FlyBall club: www.flyball.org.au
Agility is fun, fast and exciting sport for dogs and handlers to get fit together. Dogs are required to learn fun obstacles such as hoops, tunnels, weaving poles, scramble, dog walk, table, see saw and jumps.
The aim of this competition is for a handlers (you) directing dogs around obstacle courses, attempting to negotiate the obstacles correctly and to make or beat the course time set by the judge. Agility training or trialling is great fun and is an exciting and challenging way to enhance your leisure time with your dog.
Some handlers and dogs may only decide to come to training for the fun of it all… while the serious teams can move into the competition arena at 18 months of age.
For more information and to find your local club please visit the Agility Dog Association on Australia: www.adaa.com.au
This sport is essentially dancing with a dog. Dances with Dogs involves handlers and their dogs working together as a team to perform choreographed movements accompanied by music.
Routines typically involve the dog performing twists & turns, weaving through the handler’s legs, walking backwards, jumping, and moving in sync with the handler. Handlers can choose the music, moves, costume and props for their routines.
Dances with Dogs is a great training opportunity and provides both mental stimulation and physical activity, improving the connection between owners and their dog.
It is suitable for handlers of all ages and abilities. It is also suitable for dogs of all breeds, sizes, ages and abilities.
There are several Dances with Dogs clubs throughout Australia. Visit your local state or territory website for more information: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/dances-with-dogs/
Canine Disc (also known as Disc Dog, Frisbee Dog) is a relatively new dog sport in Australia but it has quickly grown in popularity in the last ten years, with many clubs now open across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
Anyone who wants to spend time with their canine companion can participate; it is an inclusive sport for all members of the family young and old.
The sport is for all types/breeds of dogs – whether they are big or small, pure bred or cross breeds.
For more information on getting involved, and finding your local club, contact Canine Disc Australia (CDA): www.caninediscaustralia.com
Endurance allows both handler and their dog to get fit and develop a bond between them.
The endurance test is a simple test of stamina and endurance where the dog runs 20kms with their handler either on a bike, or running next to them, in less than 2 hours.
The course is split in three sections: 8kms, then 6kms and 6kms, and is of mixed surfaces. There are breaks in between each section: 15 minutes between 1st and 2nd, and 20 minutes between 2nd and 3rd. The running and/or cycling part of the ET is carried out at a speed of 10kms per hour or one kilometre every six minutes. This is a gentle jog for the dogs, with most developing an easy gait at this speed.
The dog’s fitness and condition are monitored by a team of vets who examine each dog during the breaks, while the whole trial is carefully watched over by a Judge.
Find out more information by contacting the Australian National Kennel Council’s (ANKC) State member bodies: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/endurance/
Earthdog is a dog sport that allows small terriers and other small breeds of earthdog type dogs to participate in the work they were bred to do in a controlled environment. Earthdog allows dogs to use their natural hunting instincts in a safe, simulated environment.
During an Earthdog test, dogs are tested on their ability to enter the den, find their way to the “quarry” through a series of turns and tunnels, using only their keen senses of smell.
Find out more information by contacting the Australian National Kennel Council’s (ANKC) State member bodies: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/earthdog/
Sled dog racing has originated in countries in the northern hemisphere where it snowed in winter. Sled dogs were their mode of transport over any distance. This mode of transport eventuated into a competitive sport which now occurs throughout most of the continents.
Sled sports in Australia are not just traditional mushing (dogs pulling a sled, usually through the snow), under the ANKC, Sled sports is actually a set of three different sports – sled racing, backpacking/hiking and weight pull.
The majority of sledding events in Australia are conducted in bushland on dirt tracks with one dog, or a team, pulling scooters. Larger teams pull a three-wheeled cart.
Racing season in Australia starts in May and finishes in August sometimes September depending on the temperature and humidity. Generally, the races are held at State Forest trail systems and also on personal properties. These are places where it is not too hot and access is allowed for dogs, cars and camping.
For any questions or for new comers interested in the sport contact the national body called ASSA or the Australian Sleddog Sports Association: www.assa.dog/
Herding trials involve dogs moving animals (usually sheep, though cattle and ducks are also used) around a field, fences, gates, or enclosures as directed by their handlers. These get progressively harder as the dog passes each level. The dogs get to perform the basic ‘farm work’ they once were bred for.
The ANKC herding program aims to preserve the working instinct and ability of all breeds with herding origin whose original purpose was gathering, moving, protecting and driving different types of stock. Not all breeds are suitable to compete in ANKC herding, because they weren’t originally bred for it, and don’t have the instinct to work stock.
To find your local Herding sport club please visit your local state or territory website: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/herding/
Tracking aims to showcase a dog’s ability to locate people lost in either paddocks or bush landscapes.
All breeds of dogs can learn to track using their natural scenting instincts which is enjoyable and rewarding for them to use.
Tracking involves training a dog to follow a ground scent trail and find any discarded articles of clothing along the track. Dogs need to wear a tracking harness and be at the end of a minimum 10-metre lead, but length can be shortened if the terrain requires it.
Tracking satisfies a dog’s basic need of hunting and using their highly developed ability to follow scents.
Visit your local state or territory website for more information: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/tracking/
Track and Search shows a dog’s ability to locate people lost in an urban environment. Track and Search tests are designed to mimic real-life situations where a person has wandered off and become lost.
Tracks are different and cover many surfaces that replicate the unpredictable behaviour of people when they are lost or confused. The time limit for tracks varies from one hour to four hours. Some of the advanced tracks need to be worked in the evening and night.
Tracking satisfies a dog’s basic need of hunting and using their highly developed ability to follow a scent.
Visit your local state or territory website for more information: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/track-and-search/
Lure coursing is a dog sport primarily for sighthounds. It is a safer, more controlled alternative to open field coursing originally used to hunt jackrabbits. This dog sport allows the hound to test its abilities without hunting prey. Instead, the hounds chase plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate escaping game.
The lure itself is a plastic bag on a string, which is pulled around the course by a specially designed motor. Pulleys are used around the course to act as corners, making the bag change direction suddenly, simulating how prey such as the jack-rabbit or hare changing direction in a chase.
Participation in lure coursing is open for all breeds. There are two streams, one for Sighthounds and one for all other dogs.
Visit your local state or territory website for more information: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/lure-coursing/
Rally aims to provide a fast-moving and motivational sport for both dogs and their owners, almost like a cross between Obedience and Agility. When your dog practices Rally-O, he or she learns how to obey to commands (typical of classical obedience training) while having good fun (typical of agility training). Unlike agility trainings, speed is not the focus of Rally Obedience.
Handlers and their dogs navigate the course by following the numbers and carrying out the exercises shown on the sign positioned at each of the numbered stations. Dogs work in the “Heel” position between exercises.
Any dog; regardless of breed, size or shape, can participate and join in on the fun.
There are many local Rally sports clubs around Australia. Visit your local state or territory website for more information: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/rally/
Field trials are competitions using registered purebred gundogs where dogs and handlers are tested for obedience and natural hunting ability under normal hunting conditions.
There are three forms of field trials for the various types of hunting dogs.
Spaniel and Retriever Field Trials: These trials are conducted in the cooler months of August and September and are usually conducted on rabbits. Dogs are required to hunt, flush and retrieve.
Pointer and Setter Field Trials: The dogs are assessed on their ability to find and point in particular. These events are open to the pointer and setter breeds only. The dogs may be required to either retrieve or seek dead any shot game. These events are usually conducted on quail.
Utility Gundog Field Trials: These events are for breeds which are designed to hunt, point and retrieve, which include the German Shorthaired Pointer, Brittany, Weimaraner and Large Munsterlander. They are conducted on quail or other game birds like pheasant.
To find your local Field Trials sport club please visit your local State website: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/field-trials/
Treibball began in Germany a few years ago to give their energetic dogs some much needed mental and physical stimulation. It is thought to have started as a substitute sport for herding dogs who did not have access to sheep, but who require mental as well as physical stimulation
The goal is for the person and the dog to work as a team. The handler directs the dog from a distance around a set of balls to push them into a goal one by one. In competition the dog’s work is timed. Distance, time, and the number of balls are some of the variables in the game. This sport uses a combination of classic obedience and herding cues.
Retrieving Ability Tests for Gundogs are a great way to get dogs working on what they were bred for. Your dog will love the activities, and you’ll have fun training and competing as well. A fun dog sport, which brings out the inherited desire & ability to retrieve game in these high drive dogs.
Open to all registered gundogs, these trials are designed to test the working/retrieving ability of the dogs in a natural environment, both on land and through water. Ideal conditions are ones emulating those that might be found when out hunting.
To find your local Retrieving For Gundogs sport club please visit your local State website: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/retrieving-for-gundogs/
Scent Work is a relatively new ANKC sport, however, it has been around for quite a few years under other banners. The sport is based on the work of detection dogs (like those who search for drugs or explosives), who need to find and indicate, usually by staring, pawing, barking, sitting or laying down, when they have found a specific odour.
Scent work involves training dogs to search for specific odours from certain essential oils in several situations called ‘elements’, in containers such as boxes, on the outside of vehicles, inside buildings and in the outside environment. Dogs need to find the source of the odour and communicate its exact location to their owner.
Nosework is also good for people seeking a lower impact canine activity that offers great rewards for both handlers and their dogs. It is a fun training activity that utilises your dog’s natural scenting abilities through games. Great for dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages
To find out more please visit your local state or territory website: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/scent-work/
Trick Dog Competition is a new ANKC discipline’ which became an official event in January 2020. Developed by members of Dances With Dogs discipline, the intention of Trick Dogs is to encourage handlers to teach their dogs skills and to display behaviours in a positive environment.
In Trick Dog handlers and their dogs learn a variety of skills or tricks in a positive and fun environment. There is a wide choice of tricks so handlers can work to their dog’s strengths, with handlers and dogs of all abilities able to compete.
Trick Dog is a great training opportunity and provides both mental stimulation and physical activity and improves the connection between owners and their dogs. Any dog; regardless of breed, size or shape, can participate and join in on the fun.
To find out more please visit your local state or territory website: www.dogsaustralia.org.au/training-dog-sports/trick-dog