Sometimes I feel a bit envious when I see many of my dog blogger friends displaying ribbons that their dogs won at their latest competition. Mostly I just feel happy for them, but there’s that little twinge….
When we first brought Luke home I had dreams of competing in agility with him. Then we found out he had bad knees; and running and jumping are not good for him. When I learned what a fantastic nose he had, I thought about competing in scent sports. His reactivity and intense fear of strangers was going to complicate even that, but it could be done, with a lot of work.
The true reality turned out to be that competing wasn’t going to be for us, not so much because of Luke’s issues, but because of my own shyness and introverted nature. While I might have a competitive streak, sports have never been for me. I like to be active, but I prefer non-competitive activities like walking, hiking, and gardening. In dog sports, I’d most likely turn out to be the weak link, not Luke. Add in the fact that competing costs money and would require travel for us (we’re in a very rural area and not a lot goes on here), and I doubt it will ever appeal enough. I’m happy staying home and working on the farm, and I also like to keep Luke’s life as stress free as possible.
Taking Luke to the vet is, simply put, a nightmare. Therefore, I try to do everything I can to keep him healthy and I believe stress is one of the worst things for everyone’s health, human and animal. Those are my
excuses reasons for not competing; on the other hand, being active and mentally challenged is good for us as well, and canine sports can enrich a dogs’ life in that way.
Luckily, even though we will probably never compete, we can still enjoy dog sports right here at home. Luke gets to exercise his body and his nose on every walk we take in the woods. But there’s still so much more we can do. Learning about Fenzi Dog Sports Academy has been a great thing for us. Their online classes make it so that we can study and learn many dog activities from the comfort of our home, and on our own schedule. We’ve taken a reactive dog class, as well as beginning nose works.
Luke really enjoys finding the hidden scents and stashing them around the house is a great rainy day activity. I think he’s more than ready to move up to the next level, and so am I.
Fenzi’s School of Scent Sports provides many levels of learning. There’s so much more we plan to do – right now I’m deciding between a tracking class or the second class in nose works. Spring and summer are busy here on the farm, but fall should be quieter, so I hope to sign up for a class starting in October. (I think it’s going to be Nose Works II because tracking may not be offered for that session.)
We usually basically “audit” a class (called “bronze level”), which means we can read the class work and do it at our own pace. For a little more money, you can submit videos for the instructor to critique and to help out the other students. When auditing, we can watch the videos and see the instructor’s comments as well. It works perfectly for us. You can do as little or as much as you’d like, and it’s a great place to start learning what you and your dog might enjoy.
Both Luke and I get to learn new things in a way that works for us. If you’d enjoy competing, you get trained for that as well. If you’d like to know more about competing in scent and other sports, I’d suggest visiting our friends at MyGBGV Life, they participate in many different dog sports. They are very successful, and you can learn a lot more about how competition works. Our co-hosts in this hop, Travels with Barley, also compete successfully in scent sports and agility and share a lot about it.
If, like us, competition is not your thing, then you can still have fun and enrich your dog’s life right at home. You can buy or build your own agility equipment* – we have a tunnel* just for fun and Luke enjoys that. Luke puts his nose to good work on walks – there are times he tries to drag me into the woods tracking something, or we spend five minutes standing in the same place while he’s sniffing at something. It may not be a sport in that case, but it’s something he loves doing!
There are so many sports you can enjoy with your dog. I also just recently read on another friend’s blog, Sand Spring Chesapeakes, about lure coursing that you can do at home. Their dogs also hunt and compete in many different sports. Hunting and field trials, fly ball, barn hunt, dock diving….the list of possibilities goes on and on. Not all can be done at home (I wish we had our own pond and dock!), but many can. Just google “dog sports” and you’ll find long lists of sports you can do with your dog, whether in competition or just for fun and enrichment at home. We believe an active dog is a happy dog, so get out and see what sport you and your dog might enjoy!
Do you and your dog(s) already participate in sports? Tell us about it in the comment section below!
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Dog Sports”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!