Perfect Puppy Activities Guide – Chapter 1 – Competitive Activities
Chapter 1 – Competitive Activities
If you’re a sports fan, there is a variety of sports that you can enjoy with your puppy. Whether you seek the thrill of winning or just want to exercise and have fun with your companion, there’s plenty to do together!
Agility is a sport in which a dog is judged running through a timed obstacle course. The course has jumps, poles that she must weave in and out of, tunnels, and other obstacles. It’s great exercise for an active dog and for you, too! Participating in agility also can boost the confidence of shy dogs.
Dogs can earn titles by completing courses under specific requirements. There are different levels of difficulty. Once you and your dog have earned a title in one level, you can advance to the next level. There are different height classes, and the obstacles are set appropriately for each height class. This is for safety reasons— you wouldn’t want a Chihuahua to have to go over the same size jump as an Irish Wolfhound. There are also different types of agility competitions. For example, the American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a Standard class, which has certain obstacles, and a Jumpers with Weaves class, which only has jumps, tunnels, and weave poles.
How to Get Started
- Get your puppy a full veterinary checkup and explain to your veterinarian that you would like her to participate in agility.
- Visit a local agility trial. Agility is a great spectator sport. It’s exciting to watch the dogs run through the course, and you can get an idea of how the competition is run.
- Join your local agility club. Some local obedience clubs do both obedience and agility. Volunteer to help at a local agility trial for an insider’s look at how a trial operates.
Dog Shows (Conformation)
Conformation is the sport in which purebred dogs are judged based on their breed standard. You may have seen these events on television, where the dogs parade around a ring. The shows are regulated by a registering body. The largest dog registry in the United States is the AKC. Each AKC breed has a parent club that dictates the breed standard. The standard explains the requirements for coat color, size, structure, movement, temperament—every detail pertaining to a particular breed of dog. Individual dogs are judged based on how closely they meet their breed standard. First, they compete with others of their breed. Winners of that round go on to compete against other dogs in their group (herding, terrier, sporting, non-sporting, working, hound, toy). Winners of that group go on to compete for Best in Show.
Dogs who win are awarded points. After accumulating a certain number of points under specific conditions, a dog can earn the title of Champion. These dogs will have a “Ch” in front of their names, such as “Ch. Anderson’s Pride ‘n’ Joy.”
The goal of conformation is to preserve the integrity of a breed by promoting the best breeding stock. For this reason, only dogs who are not neutered can participate. Puppies as young as six months of age can enter a dog show.
How to Get Started
- Join your local kennel club. You can get a great deal of information from people who are active in the sport, and they can help to evaluate your puppy’s potential.
- Visit dog shows in your area. If your puppy is not entered, you cannot bring her to the show. But you’ll enjoy seeing all the different breeds of dogs, and you’ll be able to see others of your puppy’s breed and get an idea of how the process works.
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