Dogs in general are happiest when they are doing “something.” A Border Collie is no exception. In fact, if not given something to do they may create their own “job” that is obsessive in behavior or destructive, making them difficult to live with.
The Border Collie’s focus, desire to please, and athleticism make them a good candidate to train in canine sports and hobby activities. Even if you don’t participate competitively in one of the numerous organized sports, there are activities that you can do for fun to not only stimulate your Border Collie’s mind and body but also strengthen your bond, build confidence and release energy.
Here is a sampling of sports you can enjoy with your dog along with photos of NEBCR alumni participating in their favorite activities.
Agility is a sport that requires training, conditioning, and teamwork. A handler must direct their dog, using verbal, motion, and signal cues, through a course of 12-20 obstacles in a race for both time and accuracy. An agility course may consist of such obstacles as jumps, tunnels, weave poles, seesaw, A-frame, and dog walk. There are different classes that test varying skills of distance handling and planning strategies of the handler.
Agility is a great way to have fun with your dog and the skills you learn in an agility class will not only improve your bond with your dog but also make you a better owner and trainer.
If you like to run and spend time with your dog(s) why not take them cross-country running with you?
The sport of canicross involves one or two dogs attached to a runner. The handler wears a waist belt and the dog a harness; the two are joined by a bungee cord. While the sport started as off-season training for sledding dogs it has become quite popular, first in Europe and eventually making its way to the U.S. Many people already do some form of canicross with their dog; running with them on leash or off-leash on trails, and probably didn’t even realize that there are organized events for this popular pastime.
Disc can be played just for fun in the backyard or as a competitive dog sport. All that is necessary to enjoy having fun with your dog is a level area and a flying disc. This is a great outlet for an energetic dog that loves to chase and retrieve. However, in order to keep it safe for your dog, start with low, short tosses and gradually build up to higher and longer throws.
There are a variety of disc dog competitions that include such classes as toss and fetch; dogs must run, catch, and return the discs to their handler as fast as they can.
There is also freestyle: a choreographed routine of toss-and-fetch that requires technical skills from both the dog and handler.
Dockdiving is a splash! The owner throws a bumper or other toy into a pool and the dog leaps off a dock or platform after it. In competition, the goal is for the dog to jump as far or as high as possible. Dogs seem to enjoy this activity regardless of whether they are jumping for fun or competing in an organized event.
Flyball is an exciting team sport that combines the things that most dogs love to do: running, fetching, and jumping. It is a relay race of four dogs and their handlers racing against another team; envision dog drag racing. Each dog must run down their lane, jump four hurdles, and hit a spring-loaded box that ejects a ball. After catching the ball, the dog turns and races back down the lane over the hurdles.
The next dog on the team is released when the first dog crosses the finish line. The first team to have all four dogs run without any errors wins the heat.
Freestyle requires teamwork between dog and handler. It is a choreographed routine to music that merges obedience, tricks, and dance. Teams showcase their relationship with artistry, athleticism, and style. Dogs who have a talent for spinning, weaving, rolling, backing up, and love attention, may enjoy learning freestyle.
Having a trained dog to herd stock can be a necessity with farm chores but it is also a competitive sport to showcase and test a dog’s livestock herding capability. At a sheepdog trial, the dog must demonstrate not only control and skill but also the ability to take direction from the handler. Courses usually require the dog to move sheep around a field, through gates, enclosures, and splitting the stock all while being directed by their handler.
The purpose of competitive trials is to preserve and develop the working dogs’ traits and demonstrate the valuable roles for which they were originally bred.
K9 Nose Work
Nose work is a search and scenting activity for nearly any dog that can help build focus and confidence. It is easy to start training at home by hiding a favorite toy or treat in one of several boxes placed in a room. From there you can expand to a larger in-door space and move outside. As your dog gets into the game “target” scents can be introduced and skills needed for competition trained.
There are many benefits to nose work including the mental and physical exercise of searching.
An outlet for a dog that has a strong desire to chase may be lure coursing. It is a sport that involves dogs chasing a mechanically operated lure.
The system is designed to simulate the unpredictability of chasing prey by using pulleys to create quick, sharp turns and changes in direction.
Rally is a sport that combines obedience and task following.
A course usually consists of a series of 10-20 “stations.” At each station, a posted sign indicating a specific obedience exercise is displayed for the dog and handler to perform. Teams proceed at their own pace through the course in heel position when going from station to station. Rally is a good starter to regular obedience competitions.
Dog scootering is an activity in which one or more dogs pull a person riding a non-motorized scooter. The dogs wear a harness and are hooked to the scooter with a gangline. The line usually includes a bungee cord to smooth out the jolts of speeding up and takeoff.
Scootering is a fun way to exercise both dog(s) and the rider; the dogs are physically exercised by pulling the scooter but the rider must also help out by pushing, especially going up hills.
Therapy dogs provide affection and comfort to individuals in settings such as schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. They must be very calm and well behaved when working so they do not make those around them uncomfortable. The owner and the dog work together as a team to help improve lives.
People find the love and connection to the dog therapeutic.
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell – many times stronger than ours. The canine sport of tracking demonstrates a dog’s natural ability to recognize and follow a scent over varying terrain. Unlike obedience where the dog is taking direction from the handler, in tracking the dog is in charge. In a test, the dog is hitched to a long line and given a scent of an article and then released to track and indicate the found scent. Owners must know their dogs and recognize whether they are tracking or have gotten distracted by something else.
Practice will help the handler better understand how the scent works and “read” their dog. There are varying degrees of difficulty and distance as the dog completes each title level.
Treibball is a dog sport that involves a dog pushing/herding a ball to a goal. The sport originated in Germany around 2003. American Treibball Association established the rules for “American” Treibball in 2010.
American Treibball Association’s basic game involves the dog pushing 8 balls to the handler in the goal within 7 minutes. The distance between the balls and the goal depends on the level of competition.