includes tracking and trailing, scent discrimination, searching and detection work. In tracking and trailing, the dog locates and follows a certain odor. This could be a missing cat, dog, person or other animals: whatever the dog is trained to identify and follow. There are several methods
of training a dog for these activities whether it is using a toy to build up enthusiasm or food to create a positive association, many dogs like to use their noses.
Once dogs are proficient at tracking and trailing, they can learn to search a small area and then a larger area for either an item or a person or missing pet.
is an activity that continues to gain popularity and is where dogs are trained to search areas
and indicate to the handler that they have located an item with a certain odor. Often the odor is that of an essential oil but they can also learn to alert their person to the odor of a certain person or item. This activity is a great confidence builder
for dogs and is great for dogs who are uncomfortable around other dogs. For those who want to test the skills of themselves and their dogs, there are fun competitions in a variety of locations.
can search for and identify things like invasive species, animal and human remains. Medical detection
dogs detect changes in people’s health.
Sheepherding is a mentally and physically challenging activity. Many herding dogs (bred for this) excel at it. Dogs are often started as puppies but adult dogs can learn too and gain confidence and skills as they learn to get quiet control of the flock of sheep. More advanced dogs learn to drive the flock and separate sheep for the shepherd and to move sheep from one area to another.
Treibball is a sport often described as a combination of herding and billiards/pool. Exercise balls are used instead of sheep and the dog “herds” 8 large exercise balls across a field into a soccer goal or a similar net. The balls are initially placed in a triangle like in billiards or pool and the dog drives the balls into the goal. The initial steps in teaching this activity are to teach a dog to move in a variety of directions on cue. This activity can be done for fun or competition.
Agility is a fun sport where dogs are trained to navigate jumps, a-frames, tires, tunnels and weave poles. In foundation classes, core strength exercises help the dog get in physical shape to do this activity. Foundation exercises also help the dog and guardian build confidence and learn the skills needed to safely use the equipment. Once the dog is comfortable with the equipment, they learn to go from one piece to another. For those who want to compete there are many trials to attend and several organizations to belong to.
Rally Obedience or “Rally-O” is an activity where the dog and guardian use directional signs to go through a numbered course. Rally-O includes over 40 obedience movements starting at the beginner level and becoming more complex as the team gets more skilled. This activity is designed to be fun and accessible to everyone. There are several organizations who offer trials for those who enjoy competing.
There is something for everyone.