The Blog

Help – My Dog Is A Canine Couch Potato

This article is dedicated to all of you canine couch potatoes out there. It’s time to get up, get out, and start having some real, competitive fun with your dogs – I’m talking about dog sports!

Did you know that dog sports are a great way to have fun and show off your pet’s skills and intelligence? Whether you’re into earning titles or just looking to have a good time, you and your dog can have tonnes of fun with dog sporting events.

From basic obedience to splashing in a lake, active breeds can succeed at almost any canine sport. Most energetic breeds possess stamina, strength, courage, drive and a willingness to please their owners.

Do not underestimate your own dog’s intelligence and ability to learn new things, including complex maneuvers that will earn you top titles in competitive events, or at the minimum the family appreciation award at home after an exciting day playing outside.

Competitive Obedience

The first sport we’d like you to learn about is called competitive obedience trials. Does your dog have the perfect “sit”? Well this is the perfect sporting event to show it off. Your dog will perform a series of exercises in a ring while a judge evaluates the performance. The rules are strict – you can’t give treats, extra commands or encouragement to your dog as it performs.

In general, the types of breeds best suited for these sporting events are Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Pointers and Spaniels. These dogs make excellent obedience dogs because of their willingness to please, but are sometimes a little difficult to train because they can have a stubborn streak.

Competitive obedience consists of several increasingly difficult levels – Novice, Open and Utility. Novice-level competition primarily demonstrates the dog’s ability to heel on and off leash, stand for exam, come, and stay in a site and down position.

In the Open Class, your dog will perform retrieving and jumping exercises in addition to off-leash heeling and long sits and downs; in the Utility Class, your dog must also discriminate between scented articles and retrieve specific items.

To earn titles, your dog must score no less than half the points allotted for each exercise. For most titles, he must earn three “legs”, or qualifying competitions, in which you must earn at least 170 points out of a possible 200. He must be able to consistently follow a variety of basic and advanced commands (sit, stay, stand, come, heel) to be a successful obedience dog.

The best way for a novice to learn to compete is to find a professional dog trainer that specialises in competitive obedience training. Simply look under “dog training” in the phone directory or on the internet and you will find plenty of qualified individuals and schools at your disposal.


Does your dog love to fetch tennis balls and run? If so then why not put the two together and add hurdles – now you’ve got flyball – a fast-paced, team relay sport! Not only is flyball an excellent form of exercise for your pet, it also is a great way for you and your pooch to bond.

Of course not all dogs are cut out for this event, but most active sporting breeds are, and that includes common household pets such as the Labrador Retriever, Pointers, and various Setter breeds.

A flyball team consists of four dog-and-handler pairs. Each dog runs one at a time over four hurdles to a flyball box; steps on the box’s lever which ejects a tennis ball into the air; catches the ball; then returns back over the hurdles so the next awaiting dog can be released by its handler.

Flyball is said to have originated in the 1970s after Herbert Wagner invented the first tennis-ball launcher. Dogs earn titles according to the number of points scored per run. For example, if a team’s time is faster than 32 seconds, each dog on the team earns one point. If the team’s time is faster than 28 seconds, each dog earns five points.

A flyball team earns points when it makes a qualifying run – so beating another team’s time is not required to score points. Each team’s hurdle height is adjusted according to the height of the smallest dog (at the shoulder) on the team.

The best way to get started in flyball is to spark your dog’s interest in catching and retrieving tennis balls, which is a naturally rewarding activity for most dogs, especially for the active, sporting breed-types. Your dog will also need to learn to jump hurdles going toward and away from you. If you can combine both skills together you may have a potential flyball champion.

As in all canine sports, mastery of basic obedience commands is a must, especially a solid recall (the come command), so that your dog doesn’t just take the ball and run. In addition, your dog should be in good physical shape (not overweight) and cleared by your veterinarian for strenuous jumping.

Look for dog trainers or flyball clubs in your area that may specialise in training for flyball.

Sporting events are considered the most engaging activity that any proud owner of a sporting breed can enjoy. Complete and total stimulation for the mind and body, your dog will get the exercise of its life while becoming a smarter and more obedient companion.

Even dogs without registration papers can compete and earn titles in most activities. To compete in the American Kennel Club (AKC) or United Kennel Club (UKC) events, your dog will need an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) or Limited Privilege (LP) number, all of which can be easily obtained through these organisations.

Before you get started though, be sure that your dog is healthy and in good shape. Always have the veterinarian check your dog before starting any sports that require a lot of exertion or jumping. If you have a puppy, wait until it’s about 2 years of age (or is cleared by your vet) before competing in activities that can stress it’s growing joints, such as agility, flyball, flying disc or sledding.

Rally Obedience

Rally obedience, or rally, is best described as a cross between a rally car race and an obedience trial. Your dog must perform a series of commands, such as jumps and weaves around people or objects, in order as directed by a series of signs on a course.

At each station, the sign states which exercise to perform. Performances are judged on the proper completion of the course within the time limit, but judging tends to be looser than in formal obedience trials. Handlers can talk to their dogs as much as they want and may give multiple commands.

Rally is a great way for people and dogs who normally don’t like the rigidity of traditional competitive obedience to have fun and compete. When running a rally course, you must perform exercise such as a halt, right turn, send over a jump and a finish (a finish is a return to a site or the heel position). And like other types of competitive obedience, your dog will need 170 out of a possible 200 points to qualify for a leg.

To compete successfully in rally your dog should be familiar with basic obedience commands and should be able to heel on and off leash. Familiarity with some basic agility obstacles such as bar jumps and weave poles is also helpful.

As in formal obedience, taking classes with a professional trainer is a great way to get started in this sport. Trainers who specialise in obedience are often familiar with the training requirements for rally.

Are you looking for the ideal natural diet for your dog?

High Oats from Burns Pet Nutrition is higher in natural fibre which is recommended for the overweight or diabetic dog.*Available in 2kg, 7.5kg and 15kg.

Find Out More…


My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Comment


— required *

— required *