Healthy Paws: What if Dogs Had Their Own Olympic Games?

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

In the spirit of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, we were wondering what the sports would be if dogs had their own Olympics?

Flyball – a team event for groups of four dogs — each one does a series of hurdles, steps on a spring to release a ball, catches the ball, and then goes back over the hurdle. Olympic equivalent – the relay race!

Disc dogs – aka Frisbee dogs – dog and handlers play frisbee, sometimes to choreographed routines.

Dock jumping – a pretty self-explanatory sport in which dogs leap off the end of a dock — the longest jump wins! Olympic equivalent – long jump!

Freestyle – choreographed routines set to music — perhaps a bit like rhythmic gymnastics?

Agility – While Border Collies are known to excel at agility, nearly any breed can be taught these activities and have a great time in the process. Olympic equivalent – hurdles?

Jack Russell Races – just one example of a breed-specific race. These events tend to be popular at fairs and such events.

Lure Coursing – a sport for sighthounds (i.e Greyhounds, Borzoi, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, amongst others) in which an artificial lure is used to simulate chasing live prey through open fields.

Rally Obedience – dog and handler go through a course of 10-20 obedience commands such as “sit-down-sit.”

Ski-joring – aka “ski-driving” – the dog is hooked up to a harness worn by the owner and pulls the skier (on cross-country skis) along.

Bike-joring – dog(s) pulling bike rider.

Sled-pulling – self-explanatory. The Iditarod is the most famous sled race.

Field Trials – a broad category that encompasses general and breed-specific field activities such as pointing, retrieving, flushing, and tracking. Excellent for the hunting breeds such as retrievers, pointers, spaniels, and hounds.

Participating in an organized sport with your dog can be a great bonding and learning experience. It’s also a great way to help your dog stay in shape. Additionally, many dogs love to “have a job,” and especially for those with behavioral issues a “job” can make a huge difference in having a successful outcome.

While in no way inclusive, here are a few area training groups that offer introductions to some of these activities:

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