Lure coursing tests (Coursing Ability Test, aka CAT) are now sanctioned by AKC for all breeds and mixed breeds that are AKC registered or have a canine partner number. Dogs, at least 12 months old, run a course with at least four turns. The course is a 600 yard course for dogs over 12 inches at the withers or a 300 yard course for dogs under 12 inches and brachycephalic dogs. The course is shortened to 2/3 the distance for older dogs. The dog is judged on a pass/fail basis. Dogs participating in CAT events can earn AKC CAT suffix titles.
In the Fast CAT. Dogs run a timed 100 yard sprint and based on their running times earn points for a AKC suffix title.
Agility is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the country—and for good reason. It’s incredible exercise for both you and your dog, and it forges an even deeper relationship between you. Plus, it’s exhilarating to watch as your dog nimbly and quickly crawls through tunnels, weaves around poles, and leaps through tires! Here’s everything you need to know to get started in Agility:
Understand the Basics
Dog agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time. At each trial you and your dog will race around the unique courses designed for that day. All of this is done with your dog relying solely on the cues and body language you use to direct them on course.
All breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in Agility – from the smallest to the largest of dogs.
If you’ve never seen Agility in person, we highly recommend you attend a competition (or “trial”) to see it firsthand.
Pointing breed field trials allow a dog to work in the field and be judged in a competitive setting covering a lot of open ground in a short time. These trials allow dogs to display qualities like their keen desire to hunt, their intelligence, ability to find game, style and courage. Some trials will have handlers on horseback while others are considered a walking trial. Pointing Breed field trails are one of the oldest and most traditional of the field events and thousands of dogs have earned titles since its inception. When you and your dog compete, you’re not just having fun with your dog; you’re also carrying on a tradition rich with history and excitement.
If your dog loves the water and loves to retrieve, then the fun sport of dock diving should be a natural. The AKC began recognizing titles of the new North America Diving Dogs (NADD) organization in June 2014 so now you can also add a dock jumping title to your dog’s AKC records. The sport is open to all dogs, including mixed-breeds, and one of the first NADD record-setters was an All-American Dog named Augie who achieved a 24-foot Air Retrieve to tie the world record. In addition to Air Retrieve, NADD also offers competition in Distance Jumping. For information on registering your dog with NADD and finding an event, go to www.northamericadivingdogs.com.
Drafting & Carting
Drafting and carting are sports that are open to all breeds of dogs, including mixed-breeds, by several national breed clubs. Pulling carts to help transport items was a task that many dogs were – and still are – trained to do to help around farms. Dogs like to pull – and this gives them an acceptable way to exercise their right to do so!
Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours! The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing, and asks a dog to sniff to their heart’s content; turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It is a terrific sport for all kinds of dogs, and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.
In so many dog sports the handler is in control but this isn’t true in Scent Work. Neither the dog nor handler knows where the target odor is hidden. The handler has to rely on the dog, and follow the dog’s nose to success. In Scent Work, it is the canine who is the star of the show.
The sport of Scent Work is based on the work of professional detection dogs (such as drug dogs), employed by humans to detect a wide variety of scents and substances. In AKC Scent Work, dogs search for cotton swabs saturated with the essential oils of Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress. The cotton swabs are hidden out of sight in a pre-determined search area, and the dog has to find them. Teamwork is necessary: when the dog finds the scent, he has to communicate the find to the handler, who calls it out to the judge.
Pointing Breed Hunting tests are non-competitive pass/fail tests which assess each dog independently based attributes such as display of desire, boldness, independence, speed with a useful pattern of running across difficult or confusing scent patterns to pinpoint the location of birds. Other categories judges will score are; bird finding ability, pointing, trainability and in Senior and Master tests – Retrieving and Honoring. The teamwork between dog and handler is essential.
Participating in pointing breed hunt tests is a great way to let dogs experience what they were bred to do and enjoy what comes naturally
Therapy dogs are dogs who go with their owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
From working with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.
Therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs stay with their person and have special access privileges in public places such as on planes, restaurants, etc. Therapy dogs, the dogs who will be earning the AKC Therapy Dog™ title, do not have the same special access as service dogs.
Not everyone will understand the importance of “rat catchers,” but if you live in the countryside, you sure do! “Rat catchers” rid farms of destructive vermin – and the hunting and teamwork skills required to do so are the foundation of the sport of Barn Hunt. Dogs and their handlers work as a team to locate and mark rats (which are always safely held in aerated tubes) hidden in a maze of straw or hay bales.
Barn Hunt events include a pass/fail instinct class for owners who want to familiarize their dog with the test. Courses are made increasingly difficult by adding more obstacles, additional diversions and more rats to find. There are several types of Barn Hunt titles your dog can earn.
Canine Good Citizen
The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to foster, promote, and improve the versatile hunting dog breeds in North America; to conserve game by using well trained reliable hunting dogs on both land and water; and to aid in the prevention of cruelty to animals by discouraging nonselective and uncontrolled breeding, which produces unwanted and uncared for dogs.