By: | | Dogs, MD/DC Area Pet Guide

Want to try something new this summer? Grab your dog and join a dog sport! Participating in sports is a great way to bond with your dog and meet their needs for exercise and enrichment. It can also give you the opportunity to meet and socialize with other dog lovers. There are many dog sports clubs and training facilities in Maryland and DC, and you can even try some of these fun activities at home.

Agility

You’ve probably heard of agility, and may have seen dogs on television happily racing over ramps, weaving through poles and darting through tunnels. While it might seem like only Border Collies and Golden Retrievers are suited for agility, it’s a great activity for any active dog. Even a tiny Yorkie can be taught to go through the course. Your dog’s size does not matter – if they have lots of energy, they’ll do well in agility! You can take agility classes from Your Dog’s Friend in Rockville, MD or Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC. You can also start with homemade obstacles in your backyard.

a brown border collie dog running over an a-frame on an agility course

Canicross

If your dog loves to run, they’ll love Canicross. It’s a lot like dog sledding, without the sled. All you need is a specialty harness designed for Canicross, a shock-absorbing bungee leash, and a waist belt. You and your dog run cross-country, your dog leading the way as they pull you forward. Teach your dog commands for “left,” “right” and “stop,” so you can run as a team. You can run alone with your dog or join a Canicross club, like Maryland Sled Dog Adventures.

a young woman and a black dog running canicross

Bikejoring

Bikejoring is another pulling activity, great for dogs who do not get enough exercise from regular walks. For bikejoring, you’ll need a special rigid attachment for your bike, which helps prevent the leash from tangling in the wheels, as well as a long-length bungee leash and a well-fitting harness, specifically designed for bikejoring for your dog. In bikejoring, the dog leads the way, but you could also use a bike attachment that allows your dog to run alongside your bike, instead of in front. Biking with your dog can be dangerous if you use the wrong equipment or if you don’t take regular breaks; dogs can overexert themselves and get overheated easily without realizing it.

a black and white dog and woman bikejoring
Bikejoring” by Harold Meerveld [CC BY 2.0] / Cropped from original

Dock Jumping

If your dog loves to fetch and play in water, they’ll love dock jumping. In dock jumping, dogs jump to retrieve a toy thrown into the water, competing for long distance jumps, vertical high jumps, or retrieval speed. It can be difficult to find a pool to practice in, and it’s not safe to allow your dog to jump long distances in unpredictable waters. In the Maryland/Northern Virginia area, you can join Chesapeake DockDogs. They host regular practices, demonstrations, competitions, and training sessions during the warm-weather months, and occasional indoor events when it’s cold.

a labrador dog dock jumping
Dock Dogs Yellow Lab” by marabuchi [CC BY-SA 2.0] / Cropped from original

Nosework

Nosework is very similar to the work of drug and bomb detection dogs. It’s a great sport for less athletic dogs, as well as active dogs who need mental stimulation. You can easily practice at home by planting scents in boxes and jars and hiding them in your home. It’s easiest to let your dog find hidden treats, but official Nosework dogs usually sniff out essential oils, like anise, birch, or clove oil. You can take a K9 Nosework class at The Coventry School for Dogs in Columbia, MD or a scent detection games class at Your Dog’s Friend in Rockville, MD or Human Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC.

a shepard dog sniffing boxes doing nosework
Nose Work på MyDOG 2016” by Svenska Mässan [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] / Cropped from original

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For when your dog can’t tag along on your adventures, your professional dog sitter or dog walker from Ready Pet Go will keep them from summer boredom! We proudly serve Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD and Washington, DC. Contact us to set up a free Meet & Greet and learn more about how we can care for your furry friend this summer.