A Quick List of Canine Sports for Your Dog

Updated on March 25, 2019
agilitymach profile image

Kristin is a dog agility instructor and competitor with 20 years in the sport.


A Sport for Your Dog

Half a century ago, dog owners faced limited opportunities for competition fun with their dogs. While some canine sports like disc dog and flyball were in their infancy, few dog sports could be easily found nationwide.

Fast-forward to today when the range of sports available to dogs and their owners runs the gamut, affording any dog a sport that fits her personality and abilities. Now, mixed breeds can compete beside their pure breed cousins in most dog sports. No longer are mixes labeled as second-class citizens when it comes to sporting fun. All dogs are welcome.

Some of the benefits you can gain from getting involved in dog sports include a stronger bond with your dog, a better-behaved canine companion, new friendships, and a healthier lifestyle for both you and your dog.

Below is a quick and dirty list of some of the most common canine sports found in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers competitions or title recognition in many of these sports. You can visit their website at akc.org to learn more or simply Google these sports or competition organizations. Study the following list and see which sport best fits you and your dog.

Barn Hunt

In Barn Hunt, rats are placed in safety tubes and hidden in a maze created with bales of hay. A dog sniffs through the maze searching for the rats. When she locates a rat, she alerts, and her handler, who is following, shouts “Rat!” A fun sport to watch and compete in, Barn Hunt is gaining popularity. It’s a great sport for dogs who love to sniff out critters. The Barn Hunt Association offers titles which can be recognized through the AKC. (Training: Low to Moderate. Physical requirements of dog: Low to Moderate. Physical requirements of human: Low.)


A timed event, agility requires a dog and human handler to navigate a course of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, teeter, A-frame, and more. The team successfully completing the course with the fewest mistakes and the fastest time wins. Agility has not stopped growing since it came to the US over 30 years ago, and today the AKC records over one million entries a year. There are other organizations offering agility competitions including USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association), NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council), UKI (UK Agility International), CPE (Canine Performance Events) and more. (Training: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of dog: High to Extreme. Physical requirements of human: Moderate to Extreme.)

Nose Work

Also called scent work, this fun sport requires less physical activity from the human and canine, but it requires strong communication skills. In competitions, dogs sniff out hidden cotton swabs scented with essential oils such as Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress. Handlers have to read their dogs’ alerting signals to know when a hidden cotton swab has been discovered. Another growing sport, nose work is offered by organizations such as the NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work), USCSS (United States Canine Scent Sports), and the AKC. (Training: Moderate to High. Physical requirements of dog: Low. Physical requirements of human: Low.)

Dock Diving

Another growing dog sport, dock diving is simple enough. The dog jumps off of a dock or platform into a body of water, often chasing a thrown toy. The dog who jumps the farthest wins. This fun, warm weather sport is ideal for water loving dogs. Competitions can be found through such organizations as DockDogs and NADD (North America Diving Dogs.) (Training: Low to Moderate. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate to High. Physical requirement of human: Low.)

Scent Discrimination Exercise in Obedience



Heading into its ninth decade, obedience is one of the older sports, but it’s changed over the years. If you haven’t competed lately, you may wish to refamiliarize yourself with the rules. It’s a precision event where dogs are judged on their ability to heel, stay, come, retrieve, jump, and more.

Aside from the AKC, some other organizations offering obedience competitions include the UKC (United Kennel Club) and ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America). (Training: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate. Physical requirements of human: Moderate.)

Lure Corsing

In this fun sport, a dog chases a lure (usually a white, plastic bag) pulled by a wire and pulley. The lure moves fast through a course set on a flat, open field, and the dog with the fastest time chasing the lure through the course wins. Organizations offering lure coursing include the AKC and the UKC. (Training: Low. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of human: Low.)


A loud sport, flyball involves two teams of dogs racing down a line of hurdles, slamming into a box that spurts out a tennis ball, and returning the ball back over the jumps to their owners where the next dog in the team is released to do the same thing. The fastest team wins. Flyball is found among organizations such as NAFA (North American Flyball Association) and U-FLI (United Flyball League International). (Training: Moderate to High. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of human: Low.)


A form of obedience, Rally continues to gain traction. In this sport, a dog heels with his owner through a course of signs, stopping at each sign to perform whatever behavior(s) the sign requests. Another precision sport, points are removed for errors such as missed signs, not performing the behaviors correctly, or errors in exactness. Some of the organizations offering Rally are the AKC, the UKC, WCRL (World Cynosport Rally Limited), and ASCA. (Training: Moderate to High. Physical requirements of dog: Low. Physical requirements of human: Low to Moderate.)

Rally Obedience
Rally Obedience | Source

Disc Dog

A spectator favorite, disc dog sports involve a person throwing a flying disc for their dog to catch. There are several different types of classes, but the most eye-catching are the routines where the dog and handler perform intricate trick after trick. Some of the organizations offering disc dog competitions are Skyhoundz, UFO, USDDN (United States Disc Dog Nationals), AWI (Ashley Whippet Invitational), the Quadruped, and more. (Training: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of human: Moderate to Extreme.)

Trick Dog

A great option for the dog and owner who can’t travel to competitions, trick dogs learn a variety of specified tricks and perform them in front of an evaluator. Some organizations offering trick titles include the AKC and DMWYD (Do More With Your Dog), (Training: Low to High. Physical requirements of dog: Low to Moderate. Physical requirements of human: Low.)


Often called “Dancing with Your Dog,” Freestyle obedience is basically obedience and tricks set to music. Routines mix choreographed dance with obedience and can be humorous to moving. Organizations offering freestyle include WCFO (World Canine Freestyle Organization), CFF (Canine Freestyle Federation), and MDSA (Musical Dog Sport Association­). (Training: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of dog: Moderate to Extreme. Physical requirements of human: Moderate to Extreme.)

Other Canine Sports

Other sports your dog may enjoy include tracking, herding, earthdog, hunt and field events, skijoring, trieball, schutzhund,and more.

Go Play!

Is your dog shy or aggressive? Some of the above sports offer video competitions where you can video your dog doing the behaviors. These video competitions are great alternatives for dogs with behavior issues that keep them from competing safely among other dogs and people.

There’s a dog sport for every team. Research, choose a sport that fits you and your dog’s strengths and weaknesses, find a good instructor, and go have fun!

The days of doggie couch potatoes are over!

Questions & Answers


    Submit a Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, howtheyplay.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://howtheyplay.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)