Not a Show Dog? Not to Worry!

Dogs have a whole range of activities they can learn, from agility to freestyle.

Have you ever looked at your dog and thought, “I wish there was something fun we could do together ?”

There is, and it doesn’t matter if your dog is small or large or anywhere in between. Nor does it matter if they’re purebred or a mutt.

All over the country, dogs compete in many activities that are fun and physical, and some that make them think or showcase what they’re bred to do.


Agility is the “obstacle course” of dog activities. The National Dog Show performance team visited Brooke Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 16 and showed off what they can do with weave poles and tunnels.

Sally Roth and Lourdes Edlin, who are part of the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, brought three Border Collies named Dot, Garmin and Sting and a small mixed-breed named Mac to the school to perform for students. Despite the chilly day, the kids were cheering and laughing as Mac caught flying discs and Dot and Sting raced each other through weave poles and tunnels.

Edlin also trains dogs for Diving Dog events, where a dog leaps off a 40-foot deck into a swimming pool.

Obedience and Rally

While most people take their dogs to a trainer for basic obedience, competitive obedience takes it to a whole new level. Dogs are expected to sit, stay, heel, and come when called, both on- and off-leash.

The American Kennel Club awards titles in obedience and trials go on all year long.

Rally, which is a companion to obedience, is a competition where a series of stations is set up and the dog and its handler must perform a series of obedience skills.

More information on Obedience and Rally can be found on the American Kennel Club’s website.


Freestyle is “dancing with your dog.” Usually set to music, it’s a fun way to do tricks and obedience drills with your canine partner. The dogs need training in obedience to do freestyle and have to listen to the handler.

More information about freestyle can be found at the website for the Canine Freestyle Federation.

Flying Disc

Flying disc, next to agility, is probably the best-known handler/dog activity. You’ve probably seen dogs catching discs, and again, this is something any size dog can do.

The Purina Pro Plan Performance team, consisting of trainer John Casey, yellow lab Corona, cattle dogs Scout and Bart, and Jack Russell terrier Chance, put on a flying disc show during last weekend’s National Dog Show.

Casey’s mission is to show that any dog can do these tricks – even your couch potato dog. The yellow Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the US, Casey says, and Corona can do anything the little dogs can do.

Other Activities

Work-centered activities such as field trials for hunting dogs and herding trials are also available for dog owners to try their hand.

No matter what type of dog you have, you can find some activity that you can do together. 


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