One of the most significant advantages of being a dog owner is having an active workout partner that probably has more energy than you do. The good news is - there are many human-dog sports you can pick up. With these sports, not only will you provide a much-needed energy outlet for your furry companion, but you will also exercise and train alongside your dog.
Benefits of dog ownership
Before we get into details about dog sports, we have to mention some of the many benefits of sharing your life with a dog. Dogs are loyal and emotional, so having a companion that will stick with through thick and thin is priceless. Scientific research showed that average dog owners have lowered blood pressure, less stress, and 20 minutes a day more exercise than people without dogs. That might not seem much, but 20 minutes a day adds up to 121 hours a year.
The most significant advantage dog owners have is better health. Dogs might not be directly responsible for that, but taking your dog for a walk in the woods or regular playing sessions will eventually prolong your life. You can’t put a price on that. If you are an active person that wants to take physical activity with your dog to the next level, you might want to give these human-dog sports a serious thought. Here are our favorite dog sports that will require quite a bit of activity from the owner’s side.
Agility is probably the most famous dog sport. Many dog owners think it will only require their dog to run the agility course. However, the truth is a little bit different. The dog will follow the handler’s commands, and the handler will have to run and navigate the dog through the course. The best thing about it is you don’t have to take it to a professional level. There are many agility sets you can get and train your dog at home. Who knows, maybe your dog shows excellent potential, and you end up with a national agility champion. This is a sport all dogs can participate in. Still, some of the breeds that had success in the AKC’s agility championships are Papillon, Border Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd, and Australian Cattle Dog. The more agile the dog, the better their chances of winning.
For all dog owners living in areas with plenty of snow, enjoying dog sports can seem nearly impossible. However, if you take a deeper look into skijoring, you might be surprised. This is a human-dog sport that evolved from sledding and mushing. Skijoring is a sport where a dog pulls its handler while they are in the skies. There is a course the dog and the handler need to complete. You can enjoy it casually or become a part of the competitive skijoring scene. This is an ideal way to get some physical exercise and help your dog spend its energy. However, larger, more powerful dogs are required. Breeds like the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, or Canadian Eskimo Dog will be ideal. Sledding is in their blood, and they will feel right at home pulling you across the course.
For all dog owners that love skijoring but live in areas with no snow, there is a version of skijoring, but on bikes! Bikejoring has the same dynamic as skijoring, but the handler is on a bike instead of skies. The dog will pull the owner through a preset course, and they will be timed. There is a professional scene, but you don’t have to take it so far. You can simply strap your dog onto your bike and go for a spin around the block. Keep in mind that your dog will need some adjusting in both sports, so don’t expect too much too soon. Train your dog, and pretty soon, you will have the perfect training partner.
If you are more of a runner than a rider, you might want to consider canicross. This is a sport whose popularity is exploding, and if you look at the dynamic, the reason is pretty clear. In this human-dog sport, the dog is strapped to the runner and pulls them forward. Every time both runner’s feet are in the air, the dog is pulling them forward. This is probably the most accessible sport to get into; all you need is a canicross harness for your dog, a bungee cord leash, and a belt. You don’t need a course - just strap your dog and go for a run. If you like the sport and want to take it to the next level, you can enter many canicross races across the US.
The last human-dog sport on our list is called disc dog. It is most commonly known as Frisbee, but that is actually a brand name by Wham-O. This is a sport where a team of one person and one dog are scored based on distance or any other category judges use to score particular competitions. However, there is no need for the competitive scene. Simply grab a flying disc and take your dog to the dog park. Not only will your dog get hours of fun chasing the disc, but there will also be a lot of activity for the owner. This is a fun sport that will surely bring you and your dog closer together and provide you both with plenty of fun memories.
Choosing a human-dog sport
These human-dog sports can be extremely fun, and the best thing about them is you can choose how you want to enjoy them. Neither the owner nor the dog have to be professional competitors to enjoy these sports, and even a basic level will provide plenty of exercise. You can quickly try some of them and see if you or your dog like them. Who knows, it might become something you will do regularly and become really good at.