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Five Dog Sports You Didn’t Know Existed That You Can Start Today

Corgi participating in Fast CAT

Owned by: Gerald Roach – Photo Credits: C4 Pet Photography

Five Dog Sports You Didn’t Know Existed That You Can Start Today

One of the greatest joys of owning a dog is the level of companionship they bring to everyday life.

But many dog owners across America have dogs for more than just company, using them as travel and exercise partners, in working roles like herding and hunting, or in a helpful Service Dog capacity for those who rely on their canines for a far more important role than just a friend.

In addition to all these useful functions there are dogs that compete in AKC Conformation dog shows, Agility and Flyball competitions, and even more action-packed events. These are among today’s most well-known dog sports, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.

If you’re looking to participate with your dog in an organized activity, here’s a look at five dog sports you may not know exist that you can start today.

Fast CAT

Submitted by: Susan Watkins – Photo Credits: C4 Pet Photography

Anyone who has ever attended a Fast CAT event knows there’s a wide variety of dogs that will be lined up for a chance to race, ranging from top-winning show dogs to pet dogs that aren’t part of that scene at all. Everything from Great Danes to Chihuahuas to Beaucerons to All-American dogs can participate.

So, what exactly is Fast CAT?

In Fast CAT, or Coursing Ability Test, dogs are held by their handlers behind a line and then released to chase a lure that is mechanically operated. On this timed 100-yard dash, dogs run across an open field as fast as they possibly can in hopes of clocking a minimal time over that comparatively notable distance.

Dogs with a natural prey drive and a historical breed background in some type of coursing (like sighthounds) perform, unsurprisingly, the best here.

Dock Diving

Submitted by: Michelle Ridenour

One of the greatest ways to beat the summer heat with your dog is Dock Diving. The breeds that are best suited for this wet and wonderful sport are obviously the water-oriented breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. But a variety of breeds and mixes can participate with no restrictions. Even more non-traditional breeds like the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd Dog are being seen more often at these poolside events.

The goal of Dock Diving, also referred to as “dock jumping,” is for the dog to showcase its strength and athleticism by jumping as far (or as high) as it can off a platform into a body of water. Typically, a pool is set up for organized events, but a pond, lake or other natural body of water can be just as much fun.

The best way to start training your dog for Dock Diving is to be sure it is well-accustomed to being in water. To build confidence, start with a smaller, lower-stationed platform and encourage the dog to jump by tossing a favorite toy into the water. (It can even be beneficial to get in the water yourself!) With time, your dog will be prepared to jump without hesitation and, with a running start, will soon be reaching maximum distances and heights.

Canine Musical Freestyle

Have you ever seen a dog dance? Well, there are multiple exhibitions across the country and around the world for just that. In these presentations set to music, dog and handler teams “dance” in routines of their own creation, without any real training from a professional trainer—or choreographer. Hence, the word “freestyle.”

Freestyle is arguably the most creative dog sport among the many in existence today, since participants can choose their own music and choreography. Although it can be difficult to find formal classes for this event, online videos can provide a great source of inspiration.

For those with an interest in musical performance and a dog with a desire to “dance,” structured classes can be located through “guilds” that have been established in several states, including Tennessee, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Barn Hunt

Do you have a Terrier or Dachshund that needs an outlet for its natural instinct to burrow and dig? If your dog fits this description, Barn Hunt could be the perfect sport for you both. In fact, any dog (of any breed or mix of breeds) that is six months of age or older and can make its way through an 18-inch wide tunnel can have a go at Barn Hunt.

Barn Hunt tests the nose, speed, agility, and surefootedness of dogs that have a history of above-ground vermin hunting,says Robin Nuttall, founder of the Barn Hunt Association.” The sport is based on the traditional doggy duties of ridding barns, crop storage buildings, and homes of destructive vermin. Each course is configured with bales of hay and a tube that safely protects the activity’s ultimate goal—a pet rat!

In Barn Hunt, there are different levels of difficulty, depending on the course, with some presenting more obstacles than others. With time and experience, dogs build up their ability to move through progressively harder courses.

To help dogs become familiar with this exciting and rewarding sport, pass-fail instinct classes exist for those just getting started. Older dogs can participate in Barn Hunt as can three-legged dogs and those with a hearing impairment. Even blind dogs and dogs in wheelchairs can compete in the sport’s Line Drive Classes.


Soccer is one of the most popular sports around the globe for humans, but dogs can play “futbol” too. And, in essence, that’s exactly what Treibbal is, although dogs use their noses as well as their feet. This sport is also known as Urban Herding,

Treibbal, sometimes called “push ball,” involves a dog pushing a large vinyl ball into a goal, showcasing its ability to purposefully maintain control of the object by making the ball do what the dog wants it to do. In this sport, dogs move balls while off-leash and are instructed by commands and verbal cues given by their handlers.

The National Association for Treibbal Enthusiasts (NATE) reports, “Treibball is an exciting new dog sport that began in Germany a few years ago.” The goal is for the person and the dog to work as a team. Handlers direct their dogs from a distance around a set of balls to push them into a goal, one by one. In competition, each dog’s work is timed. Distance, time, and the number of balls are some of the variables in this challenging and (and colorful) game.

Treibbal can be a great fit for herding breeds like Australian Cattle Dogs and Belgian Malinois. But this fun, safe, and positive dog sport can be an ideal choice for just about any breed or mix with a desire to work and a need for speed. Pre-Novice, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert levels allow dogs to build their confidence while “having a ball.” What could be better in a dog sport?!