Category Archives: Dog Sports

UpDogs Soar into Brooksville

By Brenna Fender

UPDIFlogoMarch 18-20, disc dogs from all over the country will meet at Florida Classic Park in Brooksville, Florida, for the first annual UpDog International Finals. UpDog Challenge is a new dog disc organization designed to be accessible to more dogs and owners. UpDog is made up of a variety of games, some requiring strategy instead of long throws and others designed for the power thrower.

The event begins on Thursday with seminars for those who would like to learn more about specific UpDog Challenge games. The seminars will address both basics and advanced skills and are open to the public with advance registration. (Visit for more info.)


Friday consists of Last Chance Qualifiers from 9am to 5pm. Top finishers in each of the games offered will be added to the list of eligible dogs competing in the finals events over the weekend. The day should be filled with exciting competition as competitors leave it all on the field in an attempt to earn their way into the big show.

Saturday and Sunday are the main event!

The UpDog International Finals is open to spectators Friday through Sunday. Food and vendors will be available on Saturday and Sunday. Florida Classic Park is located at 5360 Lockhart Rd, Brooksville, FL 34602. Come on out and watch the dogs fly.

What is a Title?

tessa2By Brenna Fender

If you attend dog training classes or talk to people who compete in dog sports, you might hear them talking about titles. Are they referring the latest bestselling books? Probably not!

In the dog training world, titles represent accomplishments in specific sports like obedience and agility. Each sport has its own titles and they are generally offered at several levels. In most cases, dogs must proceed through the levels, so a dog with an Advanced title has already completed the Novice title, for example.

The requirements for completing titles in different sports vary. Most commonly, three qualifying scores (called “legs”) are needed to complete a title, with other details like legs earned under multiple judges being part of the deal. Some upper-level titles in some organizations require more than three legs, and, at the championship levels, there are often other requirements as well. Competitors need to be well versed in the rules of the sports they compete in order to meet the specifications and earn advanced titles.

Titles are usually represented a s letters that are officially added to a dog’s name. For example, a dog might be officially registered with the American Kennel Club as Parker’s Faster than You (but his owners call him “Speedy”). When Speedy earns his Novice Agility title, he becomes Parker’s Faster than You NA.

Titles are offered by most dog sport organizations, not just the AKC. When earned in an organization that doesn’t have long registered names, the title abbreviations can still go after the dog’s regular name (known as the “call name”). A dog named Rowdy that earns an Advanced Agility Dog title from the United States Dog Association may be called Rowdy AAD (although I’m sure he’s just “Rowdy” at home).

Championship titles are considered a special accomplishment. Those titles often require that a dog beat other dogs in competition, earning placements or scores in a top particular percent. Championship titles generally go before a dog’s name.

Dog sport competitors are often motivated to earn titles and are excited to reach their goals. Want to earn some titles with your dog? Pick your sport and get started!

Lure Coursing – The Fastest Fun You Can Have with Your Dog

By Brenna Fender

lure9Lure coursing was originally a sport just for sight hounds – dogs bred to run extremely fast while chasing a rabbit or other game. Competitors created a motorized line and attached bags to it so that the bags zipped around a course at high speed, inciting their dogs to chase. And for many, many years, only sight hounds got to have this kind of fun.

But owners of other dogs started showing up at lure coursing practices so that their dogs who loved to run and chase got to course just for fun. Eventually, the American Kennel Club got behind that idea and created Coursing Ability Tests so that all registered breeds and mixes could get to lure course and earn titles too!

But even if you have no interest in earning titles, your dog can still enjoy lure coursing. It’s a great way to exercise any dog that likes to chase, and after a bout of lure coursing, you are sure to go home with a tired dog!

Courteous Canine has lure coursing equipment and experienced lure operators who can help you teach your dog how to enjoy coursing. Most dogs that like to chase things pick up the idea very quickly and will be excited for their turn to run.

Lure coursing classes and run-throughs are offered on several Sundays each month throughout the fall and beyond. Each “class” is very casual and relaxed and runs from 9:00am to 10:30am. The cost is $30 per dog Bring your dog, a leash, and lots of water because it is still hot! Visit and scroll down to “Lure Coursing” to see the schedule and to register.

We recommend that you have your dog checked by a vet and cleared for lure coursing as it is a high speed activity.

For more information about AKC Coursing Ability Tests, visit

Brenna Fender is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Tampa with her husband, two children, a Papillon (Spark), a Beagle (Wrigley), a Border Collie (Tessa), and a variety of other creatures. Tessa has agility titles, UpDog Challenge achievements, and a Trick Dog Champion title. Brenna can be reached at and you can read her humor blog at

How to Choose a Safe Flying Disc for Your Dog

By Brenna Fender

tessa1If your dog loves to catch flying discs for exercise or sport, you may have noticed that not all discs are created equal. Some are hard, some are soft, some are chewy, and some are floppy. But did you know that some types of discs are not safe for your dog?

There are many inexpensive discs available for canines. Pet stores sell logo discs for $.99 or even give them away for free at promotional events. But these discs are not necessarily safe for dogs. According to Kat Fahle, one of the founders of the new dog disc competition organization, UpDog Challenge, “Most discs at pet stores are too rigid and/or sharp and pose a hazard for the dog.” Rigid discs can splinter when bitten, causing injuries to a dog’s mouth, and hard discs can damage teeth. A disc with sharp edges can also cause pain and injury.

Safe dog discs should have rounded edges, are made of somewhat flexible material, and are lightweight (between 85-150 grams, according to Fahle). Discs made for human use are often too heavy to be safely caught by dogs.

Certain discs are popular in the disc dogging community due to their safety and ease of throwing. Fahle says that the Fastback Canine Chomper is popular. So are discs made by Hero Disc USA and Hyperflight. The new Latitude 64 Bite Disc is growing in popularity. Kong also makes dog-safe discs. In addition, floppy discs are generally safe for dogs to use for exercise and fun.

tessa2If you plan to compete in disc dog events someday with your dog, you should consult the rules of the event’s sanctioning organization before choosing a disc. The Latitude 64 Bite Disc, Kong discs, and floppy discs are not allowed for competitive purposes by all organizations. Floppy discs fly differently and may create challenges for dogs that are expected to catch plastic discs in competition. “If someone knows they want to compete in the sport of canine disc, they should transition their dog to a plastic dog-safe disc sooner rather than later as only one organization allows floppy discs at this time,” says Fahle. UpDog allows the widest variety of dog-safe discs of any organization, including floppy discs.

After purchasing a dog-safe disc, owners should inspect the disc regularly for wear-and-tear. Tooth marks can create sharp points and rough edges can damage canine mouths. Rough spots can be filed down or, in some cases, even heated up and reshaped (see manufacturers’ websites for specifics). Discs will not last forever and should be disposed of when they are not salvageable.

Careful disc selection and maintenance will improve your disc dogging safety and fun!

Photos by Kat Fahle,

Tighten Those Turns

By Brenna Fender

Turbo wrapSeveral dog sports benefit from tight turns. Agility is the most obvious one, but rally and traditional obedience also include about turns that are best done tightly around the handler. Turning tightly is not necessarily a natural behavior because it requires a dog to collect their stride (taking smaller steps) rather than moving in extension, which dogs often do naturally.

Fortunately, there is a fun and easy way to improve your dog’s turns. First, find something that your dog likes that you can throw. If your dog is a ball or disc lover, that’s an easy task. Thrown toys work great as well.

What if your dog doesn’t like to chase thrown objects? If you are training indoors or on closely-cropped grass, you can throw a very visible treat. You may have to experiment to find a treat that your dog likes and that can be thrown several feet. Another option (which can be used more easily outdoors) is to throw a bait bag, small fanny pack, or a specially made treat-holding toy. Leave the bag, pack, or toy’s treat area open so that your dog can get the treats out by himself for maximum impact. You will have to spend a little time showing your dog how to get the goodies before he will be willing to run after the toy.

Now here’s the fun part: cue your dog to turn, and as they complete the turn, throw your toy or treats away from the dog so that the dog is encouraged to turn tightly in pursuit of the object. For example, if you are doing an obedience about turn (where, during heeling, the handler turns to the right and goes back in the direction from which you came), as you turn, release your dog with your release word (a cue that lets him know he can move out of heel position), and throw the toy in the direction that you are now heading. Once your dog catches on, he should pick up the pace as he turns around you in anticipation of fun!

At first, throw the toy simultaneously with the turn so that the dog is “pulled” forward by the toy. Then, complete your turn before throwing and, later, only toss for tight and timely turns. If your dog anticipates to the point of breaking out of the heeling position and running forward without your cue to do so, you might need to remind him to heel as you turn a few times. This is not as much of a problem in agility where running ahead is most often desirable.

Now, go and tighten those turns!