Fun matches are dog sport competitions held in a more relaxed environment. They are usually accessible to pups six months and up of any size, training level, and breed, including mutts. The goal is to introduce handlers and dogs to the spirit of competition, putting the emphasis on fun and camaraderie.
These events are organized at indoor or outdoor facilities by dog trainers, kennel clubs, and dog education schools. Often, dog training schools schedule fun matches at their facilities to show the results of the obedience training they provide. By bringing together four-legged competitors, their handlers, judges, and volunteers, dogs and handlers have the opportunity to test their skills as team, as well as practice agility, obedience and rally, in a setting similar to that of a bigger dog sport event.
Fun matches are also great for beginner athletes, whether they are dogs or handlers. The exercises can be performed either on-leash or off-leash according to the training level of the dog, allowing the team to adapt gradually to more difficult tests, and progressively move towards upper levels within a particular dog sport.
A fun match is the best way to evaluate a dog’s behavior and socialization skills, specially in the presence of other dogs, as well as to determine how they react to performing exercises in front of an audience. From the handler’s point of view, these events are perfect to foster social interaction between dog parents, exchange tips about dog care, training, and why not, also make friends.
Obedience Training And Competition
Obedience is a discipline that evaluates the ability of a human-dog team to follow an exercise routine, and it is meant to teach the dog controlled and collaborative behavior. Indeed, this practice implies good harmony amongst the dog and handler, leading to a perfect understanding and communication between them, even when the dog is off-leash.
There are three levels of obedience competition: Novice, Open, and Utility. They each require the mastering of a particular skill set, and standardized exercises that increase in difficulty are a prerequisite to advance to the next level.
Novice tests include exercises to prove good canine companion skills, such as heel on-leash and off-leash, stand for examination, remain seated and down, whether alone or in a group of dogs, and recall. These fun matches provide great preparation for obedience trial competitions, Canine Good Neighbour tests, therapy dogs training, or simply training advancement.
Open competitions demand that the team performs a skill set at intermediate level. It consist of more challenging exercises like off-leash heel and figure of eight, retrieving, jumping, drop on recall, and staying seated and down when the handler is not on sight. It can lead to obtaining the American Kennel Club Companion Dog Excellent Title (CDX) or its equivalent.
Utility is the advanced level, which requires the highest degree of skill and imposes the highest level of complexity in each of the exercises. It combines the commands achieved at Novice and Open levels, with the dog’s innate scent detection abilities through assignments like silent signal exercises, scents discrimination, retrieving and jumping. The score accumulated from these competitions can lead to obtaining the Utility Dog Title (UD), Utility Dog Excellent Title (UDX) and Obedience Trial Championship Title (OTCH), which is the highest possible level in terms of dog obedience.
Fun Matches Are For Every Dog
If you are interested in getting started in dog sports and competitions, fun matches are the best way to do it. To enter your first competition, you can enroll your dog in obedience classes, or you can prepare your dog by yourself, using some or a combination of all the amazing learning resources available.
Many dog sports demand that you team up with your dog, so practicing at home is not only good for ensuring success at competitions, but it is also great for bonding. Furthermore, training your dog at home helps you enhance your skills as a handler .
Kennel clubs and dog associations organize fun matches, where you can participate with your dog simply by registering for them. Some allow at-the-door entries, while others require that you register in advance. In any case, be sure to arrive early as to ensure your dog is ready for the match.
Whether you are thinking of entering a competition or simply looking to start exercising regularly with your pooch, we put together some useful resources to help you start exercising, enjoy fun activities with your dog, and spend meaningful time together.
Get Started In Dog Sports And Activities
Basic Training Resources
Toys To Stimulate Your Dog’s Brain
Dogs sports not only help your dog stay healthy and fit, but they also demand mental quickness to follow and execute the handler’s commands. Many of the exercises required at competitions test dogs’ speed and accuracy.
Interactive toys and puzzles are designed to challenge your dog’s brain, for example, by making a reward, i.e. a treat, available only if the demanded action is performed.
Other toys help improve dogs’ natural ability to track scents, which is perfect training for the sport of scent work, earthdog tests, and for becoming professional detection dogs. Professional detection dogs are working dogs that can detect substances, such as drugs or explosives, and often work as search and rescue dogs as well as medical detection dogs.
Many agility trails will ask the dog to jump through hoops, hurdles, and different obstacles. Some toys are perfect for helping familiarize your dog with those kinds of elements.
Basic Training Interactive Toys For Dogs
Dog Agility Training Equipment
Agility is becoming more and more popular. For instance, the AKC reported more than one millions annual entries to its agility programs. High energy breeds are perfect for competing at dog sports; however, any dog will enjoy the challenge and will love being rewarded afterwards.
Running across tunnels, jumping through hoops, leaping over hurdles and overcoming challenging trails is a perfect outdoor activity for any healthy pooch. A well designed agility trail will help any dog exercise different areas of the body, maintain a healthy weight, get tired and avoid destructive behavior.
Books And Videos For Self-learners
From understanding how your four-legged family member sees the world, to the complete guide on dog sports training, there are tons of resources for help you get started. It is never too late to start training a dog and even adopted dogs with undesirable behavior can learn obedience commands with the adequate teaching method and positive reinforcement.
Whether you are looking to compete or simply enjoy time at the dog park, dog sports are perfect motivators for spending quality time with your four-legged companion, strengthening the bond between you, and meeting other pet parents.
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