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How to join dog sports

Have you ever wanted to try a dog sport but never know where to start looking? Getting into a sport can feel very overwhelming if you don’t already know what you’re doing or have someone to teach you the ropes. So, let’s break it down in a few easy steps:

Step 1: Figure out what sport interests you and your dog

You can figure out what might work best for you by considering the breed of dog you have, how much drive they show or if you’ve been trying a particular sport at home. Rally Obedience, Obedience, Lure Coursing, Sprinters, and Disc are a few examples of sports that are beginner friendly and I believe any dog can excel at. I also highly recommend trying out a workshop for a sport that sparks your interest, this is a great way to get a feel on how competition works and to build some great foundation skills for your dog.

Step 2: Figure out what organization to join

This will vary depending on whether you have a purebred registered dog and what organizations are typically hosted in your area. This is probably the toughest part, it requires a lot of research and typing “rally obedience trial near me” into Google likely won’t get you what you want. Here are some organizations to get you started:

  • CKC (Canadian Kennel Club)

  • AKC (American Kennel Club)

  • UKC (United Kennel Club)

  • UKI (UK Agility International)

  • Barn Hunt Association

  • NACSW(National Association of Canine Scent Work)

  • UPDog

  • Toss and Fetch

  • USDDN (US Disc Dog Nationals)

  • NAFA (North America Flyball Association)

  • UFLI (United Flyball League International)

  • NADD (North America Dock Diving)

Check out their websites and navigate to their trials or events pages to see if there are any local clubs or events near you. If you happen to see the same location hosting events of interest, I’d recommend following them on social media for more relevant information regarding trials, workshops, classes etc.

Step 3: Practice and start to trial

It sounds much scarier than it is, you can do it! Check out seminars, workshops or join some classes to get some tips and tricks from people that have been competing for a while. The dog sport community is so vast and welcoming, you will make a lot of great friends and sometimes opportunities can even present themselves to you. Don’t feel the need to be perfect before going into your first competition or trial, your first event is a huge learning opportunity. Watch the other players, ask questions, mimic some moves and take it as an opportunity to learn rather than worrying about getting first place.

Another great way to learn is to volunteer at the events, you often get a lot of insider knowledge from the judges while you help around the ring. You can get a taste of what judges look for, where they like to hide items and if they’re particular about something specific. Judges love to talk about their passion for a sport, so use the opportunity and help them out.

Step 4: Have fun

This is a given, but it’s easy to get competitive and forget to have fun. At the end of the day, we’re all doing this because we love it and so do our dogs. Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t winning or making the progress you want as quickly as you’d like, it’s truly a journey and a great bonding experience for you and your dog. So remember every time before you enter the ring, to have fun.

- Marissa, Jasper, Misha Want to see more of Marissa and their packs adventures? Check them on out on social media


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