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There are many types of dog sports. You may be interested in competing, or maybe your just curious as to
what all those titles in your puppy's pedigree are all about. Here, we will try to give a brief overview of some
of the most popular dog sports, and each section will include information about equipment needed,
training considerations, and sanctioning organizations.
Hunting and Retriever Games
Hunting is perhaps the most natural thing you will do with
your lab. Eromit labs have been selectively bred from fine
working dogs to ensure puppies are instinctive retrievers,
have excellent marking ability, and are quiet and
cooperative in nature. Whether you are into hunting
waterfowl or upland game, a well trained retriever is an
asset to any hunt. Some people even use their labs to
track wounded larger game, or to assist in hunting
If you are looking to test your retriever's ability, Hunt Tests
are a good venue. Retrievers are asked to retrieve from
land and water and are judged against a specific standard.
If you and your dog earn a number of passes at a each
level, you will be awarded titles such as Junior Hunter,
Senior Hunter or Master Hunter.
Looking to be a little more competitive? Field trials might
be the game for you. Here, dogs and trainers are pushed
to their limits. Dogs may be asked to retrieve fallen birds
300 or more yards away, negotiating difficult terrain along
the way, and remembering the location of several fallen
birds at a time. Dogs are judged against other dogs in the
field. After a number of top placements, the dog will earn
the titles such as Field Trial Champion, or if handled by
non-professional, Amateur Field Trial Champion. These
are very prestigious accomplishments!
Your local retriever club is a good place to gain information
and assistance in training your dog to a hunting or
Dog Agility is the most popular, fastest growing dog sport
today. It is fun and challenging for both the dog and
trainer, and it's easy to get involved with almost any breed
of dog (but let's be honest, working Labs rock at agility!)
Handlers must direct their dog over obstacles such as
teeter totters, jumps, and through weave poles and
tunnels. There are standard events that require fault-free
performance and events such as steeplechase, which
emphasises speed, and gamblers, where handlers must
direct there dogs from distances of up to 30 feet. Titles
can be earned from a beginner level right up to the
coveted Agility Trial Champion. National championships
are held by most agility organizations at the end of every
If you live in the Quesnel area, please contact us to find
out more about upcoming agility events, lessons, or just
come out to see see what it's all about! Whether you want
to get to a competitive level or are just looking for a fun
way to exercise your dog, agility is a great way to improve
conditioning, enhance off-leash obedience skills, and
enjoy the great outdoors!
Nosework is a broad term covering many disciplines. These include tracking, search and rescue, and
detection. In any of these jobs, the dog is required to find something- or someone- using his nose.
Competitively speaking, tracking offers the opportunity for a dog and handler team to earn titles such as
Tracking Dog, Tracking Dog Excellent, or Variable Surface Tracker. In competition, dogs must follow a track
that may be up to several hours old to find articles that have been hidden by the track layer. Another type of
competition is the very new 'K9 Nosework' trials which is a fun version of detection training- dogs learn to
identify specific target odors which are hidden in various locations for them to find.
From a practical standpoint, nosework is a real talent that allows dogs to perform tasks that humans (or
human inventions) have never been able to do. Search and Rescue teams often have several dog and
handler teams that use a combination of tracking skills (following a trail) and air-scenting (following the
freshest scent in the air) to find missing persons. Specialized teams may be able to recover people from
avalanches, collapsed buildings, etc. Detection dogs are often trained to smell out a specific type of scent -
such as in the case of drug detection dogs used by the police to find stashes of illegal drugs; explosive
detection dogs are at nearly every airport checking bags for possible bombs. Dogs can also be trained to
smell out shed deer, moose, and elk antlers, and there are even cancer- detection dogs, who can smell
areas of skin-cancer on a living patient or detect internal cancer by smelling a breath sample! Dogs can even
smell items or people that are under snow or in deep water.
Nosework is an extremely useful and noble canine profession. If you are interested in learning about tracking
or joining a search and rescue group, contact a local group in your area that can talk to you about
prerequisites, which often include a certain level of handler fitness and survival training.
Labs are a very popular breed for tracking and for detection or rescue efforts. As a sporting breed, they are
equipped with a finely tuned nose in addition to a very cooperative, trainable nature. Labs are also hardy to
cold conditions that may be involved in rescue or detection work, and Labs from athletic, high drive blood
lines continue to be the choice for many handlers.
Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Assoc. N.A. Search Dog Network
Ottawa Valley Search and Rescue Dog Assoc. Search and Rescue Dog Assoc. of Alberta
Search K9 Network Canadian Search Dog
Dog Powered Sports
Skijorring and Dog Sledding are two very popular winter dog sports. You can also train your dog to pull you
on roller blades, your bike, on a scooter, or as you run in the summer!
Skijorring and dog sledding both offer opportunities to enjoy winter with your dog and to maintain or increase
his level of fitness. There are also races held across Canada each winter - from one dog events to
championship races where the musher (dog team driver) can choose to have as many dogs as he likes in
the team (often 20 or more) - and everything in between.
Titles are available for purebreds in sled dog racing but in this sport, that is rarely the motivation. Racing is a
fun opportunity to test your dog's speed, conditioning, and training, and generally the winner will come home
with cash or prizes. Labs, as sled dogs, are most competitive in limited class sprint events where they can
show off their speed, strength and heart - my Labs won most races they entered in the 1-6 dog events, which
were anywhere from a few hundred yards to 15 miles long. Labs generally do not do very well in long
distance type events, such as the Iditarod, because they tend to want to run hard and fast and do not pace
themselves well for longer distances.
Labs, because of their heart and strength, can also do well in weight-pull competitions if trained and
conditioned for this event. Only one dog is required for weight pulling, and events usually involve gradually
increasing the amount of weight each dog pulls for a very short distance (15 feet or so). The winner is the
dog who can pull the most weight, and the prize is usually the weight pulled in dog food!
Whether you have one dog or several, dog powered sports can be a great way to get your dog in shape,
enjoy the outdoors, and if you are up to it, to get involved in some friendly competition.
Sled Dog Central
International Sled Dog Racing Association
Another very popular sport, especially great for water loving labs, is dock diving. Built on the concept that
dogs love to make a big leap to retrieve an item out of the water, this sport has become competitive and can
often be seen on television. There are several different categories but the most popular form of dock diving
is 'Big Air' where the dog with the longest leap wins. There are clubs forming all over for this sport, so ask
your local kennel club for more information. **** Please note that if you are practicing in a lake it is very
important to ensure that there is no underwater debris (such as submerged sticks or logs) that could injure
your dog on impact.****** Dock diving is a team sport and the handler's throw is important both in timing and
distance, to the success of the dogs jump.