Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dog sports, part dos

You know that look your dog will sometimes give you, the one that says "Gee, this is great! What are we going to do next?"  Or perhaps "We're gonna play, right?!"  Elka gives me that look if we've gone out back to potty, because inside the fence is where the high speed playtime takes place.

Sometimes, as she takes a couple of bounds after the gate closes, I say "Sorry, not right now" and we go to the back door.  Sometimes, though, I say "Sit", and she's barely able to, haunches aquiver, and I unclip her leash and go for the tennis balls.

We didn't always do the tennis ball things, though, much like how we didn't always do the walk thing (or at least not with anything that began to resemble regularity).  Who  knows what activities we might add?

There are some dogs who love water.  Love it.  Dogs that you have to watch around puddles and creeks and rivers, lest they make mischief, and drag you into said mischief after them.  These dogs are the ones, I trust, who excel at the dog sport of Dock Diving.

Dock diving involves, well, a dock.  And a body of water that has an area roped off for doggie presence.    It's both as simple and as complex has having one's dog leap off of the dock into the water, with the "competition" part being in the measurement of distance leapt.  Training for this sport seems to involve a good Stay (or Wait), and a good way to send your dog off running to leap from the dock into the water.  Recall would, I think, play a good part in this, as you'd tend to want your dog back after he or she has leapt as far as possible. is where you can learn more about the sport, and about events in your area.  

I have yet to take Elka to the lake (though I want to do it one of these days), but she only pays nominal attention to bodies of water.  She's suspicious of puddles that are beside sidewalks, but will walk into them on a grassy area.  There's also one specific part of a tiny creek along the "park" portion of our walk that she's decided to prance in at will.

Agility is a sport that intrigues me, and one that I think Elka would have a lot of fun with.  Once she got used to the equipment.  Considering she's seemed to have gotten over her suspicion of cardboard boxes, this might not be much of an ordeal.

Canine agility courses involve jumps, poles to weave through, a tunnel, a teeter-totter, and a high board that looks like a balance beam, sort of, that I don't know the name for.  Ideally, you and your dog have a good obedience rapport before embarking on an agility class, as dogs tend to run "naked" (i.e., collarless) for the sake of safety.  Recall is a must, and perhaps good directionals as well.  I've mentioned, I think, that Elka is starting to comprehend "Left", verbally; she's already quite good at understanding what you mean when you point in an direction.

You and your dog learn the equipment, piece by piece, and when it comes time to actually run a course, competition or otherwise, the order in which each piece taken varies.  For a dog to have a qualifying run in an agility competition, timing is a factor, but also the actual agility with which the equipment is taken; refusing jumps or a tunnel, knocking a bar off a jump, things like that will take points off.  The course must also be taken in the designated order, and ideally at a high speed.  Agility videos are fun to watch on YouTube.  I like watching the Doberman ones, of course, but also the ones of "odd" breeds to have in agility classes, such as English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers.  The USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association) web site has more info on rules, events, that kind of thing.

Although the nearest Schutzhund club is an hour or so away, the nearest trainers and people who do agility (yes, "trainers". Plural!) are much closer.  Scheduling permitting, this may be something that Elka and I take up sometime in the future.  It is important to note that Agility is a sport that can be hard on a dog's joints, and they should perhaps be 18 months or older before doing jumps and things.

 Elka says: consult your vet if you have a concern about your dogs joints (or weight, or general health); don't just listen to the Internet!


  1. Elka is so cute! I always feel bad when the boys bring me a toy and want to play and I can't, like whene I am carrying a huge basket of laundry!

  2. Aw, thanks! It does always feel like a huge let down to them if you can't throw the ball or tug on that toy at least once!