Fast + Fun - The Canine Sports 101!

Fast + Fun - The Canine Sports 101!

Looking for something fast and fun to do with your dog? Learn all you need to know about agility, flyball & dock diving with our canine sports 101!

Antinol Team

By Antinol Team

You've got a super energetic pup on your hands. You want to get out there, try something new, and make some friends for you and your dog. Give canine sports a go. We give you the lowdown on the top three canine sports. What happens, who can get involved, and where can you find a club.

 Which dog sport is right for me and my dog?

There are so many canine sports out there, but keep in mind your dog's personality. Are they ball-obsessed? Easily distracted? Maybe you can't keep them out of the water. 

And don't worry, you don't need to be super fit yourself to get involved in dog sports! As long as you're enthusiastic and willing to learn.
Canine sports is an inclusive and friendly world—fun for the whole family. Most sports have junior handler classes, too, so the kids can learn to handle their dogs from a young age.

Can any breed of dog participate in dog sports?

As with any sport, there are always going to be those that are naturally talented. In some cases, certain breeds are more suited than others, like border collies and agility. But any dog can enjoy canine sports—pedigree or mixed breed dogs. As long as you are both having fun, that's all that matters. 

How much training is required for most dog sports?

If you want to reach the top of your game, then you'll have to put in the training hours. You'll find local groups and can join regular classes or get equipment for your backyard and practice at home. 

The more training you do, the better you'll get, but be mindful of your dog's health and well-being. Too much jumping can take its toll on their joints, and their enjoyment needs to be at the heart of your involvement. 

What are the top three dog sports in North America?


Manchester Terrier jumping dog agility hoop jump

What is agility?

A fast and furious test of speed, accuracy, and control. Dogs navigate their way around a course of obstacles in the quickest time possible. The fastest and most accurate dog wins. It takes focus from the dog and skilled handling to direct your dog off-leash around the course.

What agility equipment do I need?

Most people start off joining classes or a local club, where all the equipment is provided. You only need a sturdy collar or harness and leash, treats or toys for rewards, and bags of enthusiasm and determination. 

You can get equipment for your backyard, including jumps, weave poles, see-saws and tunnels. It's great fun to practice in your own time, and equipment doesn't need to be expensive. You can even build your own.

How do I compete in agility?

Dogs speed around a carefully planned course of obstacles, including jumps, tunnels, and hoops. They have to demonstrate their bravery and control on items such as the see-saw and dog-walk—ensuring they touch the contact areas on and off of the equipment. 

A pause box is another challenge used to demonstrate your control as a handler, stopping them and releasing them on a table or in a marked-off zone.
The winner is the quickest and most accurate dog around the course. You lose points for knocking or refusing jumps, missing contacts or making directional errors,

Your local agility club may hold competitions themselves to kick-start you. You might want to compete for fun, or head to bigger regional and national competitions, with qualifying rounds.

Shetland sheepdog running through red and white agility weaves

Where can I go to do agility?
Contact local dog trainers who may be able to recommend a local club or class. You can also join an agility association.


Australian Shepherd holding ball and jumping flyball hurdle

What is flyball?

Is your dog obsessed with fetch or can't resist a ball? Flyball might be the canine sport for you! 

It's a team game, with 4 dogs on each team. Dogs race in a relay, up a line of jumps to a ball box. They release and catch a ball, and race it back to their handler. 

What flyball equipment do I need?

As with agility, most flyball clubs and classes provide the equipment. The hurdles are set at a regular jump distance apart, and the height is determined by the height of the smallest dog competing. 

Specialist ball boxes are placed at the end of each run. These can be manual (the dogs just grab the balls) or spring-loaded (the dogs touch the pad to release the ball). 

To practice at home, nail your recall and play lots of fetch. You can buy a set of hurdles for your backyard or even build your own. 

How do I compete in flyball?

Each of the 4 dogs in the team race along a set of hurdles, release the ball and race back to their owner. If a dog makes a mistake, misses, or drops a ball, they have to run again after their team's last runner, until all 4 dogs are home error-free. The winning team is the fastest team to get all 4 dogs back without any mistakes. 
Join a local class and get practising, or head to national and international competitions with the North American Flyball Association.

Dog jumping white and yellow flyball hurdle

Where can I go to do flyball?

In North America, the main flyball association is the North American Flyball Association.  

Dock Diving

Golden Retriever jumping from red and blue dog diving dock

What is Dock Diving?

A fast-growing canine sport, dock diving combines your dog's love of water with their drive to retrieve toys! 

If your dog loves to launch into the bay or off of a lake-side, and you can't keep them out of the water, then dock-diving is the sport for you! 

What equipment do I need for dock diving?
This one isn't as easy to practice at home as agility and flyball. 

You'll need a pool with a dock (or platform). Some dogs may need to start with the basics of swimming, but others are confident to get splashing. You'll need a ball or a toy that really gets your dog hyped up (ideally one that floats!) And don't forget towels! 

How do I compete in dock diving competitions?
There are two main dock jumping competitions, farthest distance and air retrieve. 

You toss a ball or toy off of a platform into the water. The winning dog is the one who jumps the farthest. The judges measure from the dock to where the base of your dog's tail enters the water. 

The aim of air retrieve is for your dog to grab a bumper toy that's hung 4 feet above the water. Dogs take a run-up and jump from the dock. For each successful retrieve, the toy is moved 1 foot further from the dock. 

Collie jumping with mouth open to catch air retrieve dock diving bumper

Where can I go to do dock diving? 
You'll need to find a properly set-up pool. Check they are fully qualified and insured to host dock diving—keeping you and your dog safe. 

You can find local clubs and centers via the North American Diving Dogs

8 other canine sports for you + your dog to try

If Agility, flyball, and dock diving aren't for you, there are plenty of other canine sports to try with your furry friend.
  • Rally Obedience
  • Sheepdog trials
  • Disc dogs
  • Lure coursing
  • Tracking
  • Canicross 
  • Sled-racing
  • Carting

Did you know, that Antinol is the official joint supplement partner for the NADD and the USDAA? If you're a member of either, grab your Antinol discount here and get 5% off.

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