Learn about Dog Sports & Activities
There are a variety of dogs sports across Canada that you and your dog may enjoy participating in. If you are considering sports so you can have fun with your dog, remember that basic good manners and everyday skills (like a good recall, a good down-stay and a release cue) are the foundations you’ll need to participate well – as your dog will need to learn how to be “amped and performing” one moment and then calmly resting and recharging between rounds in an awesome down-stay.
If competition isn’t what you seek, there are a number of programs that can earn certificates – for excellence in family dog manners or for passing “therapy dog” training.
Therapy dog work is NOT service dog preparation. Therapy dogs are well-behaved pet dogs whose guardians take them to visit places where people may enjoy the company of a pet. From nursing homes to day programs, organizations that offer dog therapy have a roster of organizations who might appreciate your participation. Again, remember that basic good manners and everyday skills are the foundations you’ll need in a great therapy dog.
CAPDT’s trainers can help you prepare with foundation courses that provide the basics of these skills. Find the sport or activity you would like to pursue and contact your local trainer for more information. You may want to go and see an event as a spectator to consider whether you would like to participate. Check the Canadian Kennel Club event calendar and the internet event directory sites Canuckdogs.com
SPORTS & ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE
We recommend dog guardians see a sport in practice before trying it with their dog or find our more details about a sport. Here are some questions that guardians might want to think about when considering whether to take their dog to an event. We’ve done our best to give you some general guidelines to help make this decision a little easier:
Is the event surface appropriate for my dog?
- Did you know that running or walking a long distance on pavement can have a detrimental effect on canine health? Running on pavement can damage a dog’s pads (especially in the summer when pavement is hot) and the impact can cause substantial wear on canine joints.
Is it too hot/cold for my dog?
- Did you know dogs can get heat stroke? Or that it only takes a temperature increase of 3 degrees to seriously impact their systems?
- International regulatory bodies for dog sports have come up with some helpful guidelines to assist in making a call with respect to temperature and canine exercise:
- Dogs should not engage in strenuous exercise when the temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius (” ̊C”) or below -30 ̊C.
- When the temperature exceeds 15 ̊C, a small swimming pool or a body of water should be available for dogs to cool off near the finish area
- Heat & Distance Guidelines (per international standards)
- Between 10 and 17°C: maximum 8 km;
- 18 to 23 ̊C: maximum 3.5 km;
- 24 ̊C at 28 ̊C: 2 km or less at an easy effort (regulatory bodies do not allow hard-effort racing at this temperature)
- Remember, every dog is different and different breeds with more or less coat may be more sensitive to thermal changes.
Is the distance or physical effort involved appropriate for my dog’s current stamina?
- Like people, dogs need to build up mileage and exercise gradually over time with a careful plan (which will look different for every dog depending on breed, age, health, weight, etc. and should be discussed with a veterinarian).
Will my dog be a hindrance to other participants and spectators?
- Not all events are designed to accommodate dog spectators. As a conscientious owner, it’s important to consider the impact your dog’s presence might have on other event participants, volunteers, and/or officials.
- Is your dog liable to be reactive? Are they a “good citizen” in crowds? Have they ever been in a crowd before?
- If your dog is reactive (barks or lunges at other dogs or people when on leash), aggressive or not used to crowds, skip taking your dog. You want to set your dog up for the best possible experience and that means preparing your dog properly and taking into consideration their specific needs. If you’d like to start conditioning your dog to going to public events, contact a CAPDT trainer or behaviour expert for assistance.
Are dogs allowed? Is the event insured for dogs?
- Did you know that most insurance companies will not insure events that involve dogs and are not affiliated with a canine sports association. Check with the event organizers to make sure they have insurance in place that will cover your dog in the event of an accident or organizer negligence.
Is the event appropriate for my dog’s age?
- The following guidelines are typically applied with respect to the age of dogs involved in dog sports:
- dogs – particularly large breeds – are recommended to be at least 10 months of age before participating in strenuous activity or jumping higher than their shoulder height or onto hard surfaces
- While these age guidelines take into consideration the average growth rate of most dogs, they are a general standard and may not be appropriate for every dog. For example, it may not be in the best interest of a 10 year old large breed dog to run 10+ km. If you’re not sure what’s best for your dog, it’s a good idea to check in with your veterinarian.
NOTE: All dogs (purebred or not) can compete in Canadian Kennel Club sanctioned events like Agility, Obedience, Rally Obedience and Chase Ability? Only Conformation and breed specific events are reserved for purebred dogs.
To enter, your dog needs a CKC registration number. The CKC uses these numbers to keep track of event entries, results, standings and titles. If your dog is not registered to compete, you can apply for a registration number today.
CKC’s Event Calendar lists all CKC sanctioned events. Search by location, event type, or host club to find events near you. Note that, unfortunately, a number of show are currently on hold due to COVID-19.
Click “Details” on the event listing to locate the event secretary and, if available, a premium list (where you will find all the relevant information you need to enter your dog including the schedule, show fees, the closing date /last day to enter and entry forms).
The event secretary (or show secretary) is responsible for managing show entries and results. If the premium list is not available online, you are always welcome to e-mail the event secretary to ask for a copy.
Most shows accept online show entries via third party entry service companies, such as DogShow.ca. This quick and easy process is great for novice event participants. User-friendly online entry services will check to make sure you have filled all the forms out correctly, let you know of any issues and provide confirmation of your entry. Check the premium list – when you see an entry service logo like DogShow.ca’s with the entry forms, that means you can make an official entry online.