Want an easy, low-stress way to get involved in the world of dog sports? Start with a Coursing Ability Test (CAT) because it is designed specifically for newcomers.
The first thing to know about the CAT is that – as with all of our tests – dogs do not compete against each other (as opposed to Field Trials where winners are chosen). Each dog runs individually and chases after an artificial lure on either a 300- or 600-yard long course. Your dog must finish in less 1 ½ minutes and 2 minutes, respectively. Because the course is for beginners, it is set up with safety in mind because we recognize that many of the dogs are new to the sport and might not possess the agility of an experienced sight hound.
But don’t worry about being judged: Dogs only earn a pass/fail, and the maximum time is not meant to be difficult to achieve. Yes, your dog will need to run, not walk, to earn a passing grade. But even if he doesn’t do his best, don’t worry! Think of it as just a fun day out for both of you to meet other dogs and dog lovers.
How many times have you seen your dog bolting outside, running as fast as he can after a squirrel or a windswept plastic bag or paper cup? He’s going after his “prey” of course, and he’s doing exactly what Sighthounds are supposed to do. They’re born and bred to chase their prey! Their natural inclination to hunt by sight, not smell, is literally in their DNA.
So how do you satisfy your dog’s high-energy, inner instincts? AKC Lure Coursing may be the perfect answer! It’s an exciting way for him to do what comes naturally — but in a safe, controlled environment. In this event, dogs chase a mechanized, white plastic lure around a 600–800 yard course that simulates the unpredictability of chasing live prey. Zig-zagging across a big, open field is simply heaven for these dogs! At the same time, it helps improve their focus, agility and sportsmanship.
Until you’ve actually seen it in action, it’s hard to imagine the complete and utter joy on your dog’s face as he runs the course, following the lure from start to finish. So if you’ve been looking for an activity that takes full advantage of your hound’s energy and natural ability, look no further than AKC Lure Coursing.
Your dog responds well to commands at home and in public, but how would he respond in a farm environment? There’s an easy way to find out: Sign him up for a Farm Dog Certified test.
Open to all breeds of dogs, this test involves your dog performing a series of 12 exercises that are typical for a farm environment such as being in close proximity to livestock (who are always penned to avoid any altercations); jumping and staying on hay/straw bales; walking on unusual terrain; and jumping over logs. There is no herding involved. Instead, the goal is to assess his aptitude as a working farm dog by exhibiting self-control, confidence and trust with you or his handler.
If you have a small terrier or a Dachshund, you’ve undoubtedly already discovered their penchant to dig, stick their face underground, and emerge with something in his mouth, be it a mouse, a squirrel or some other creature. After you stop screaming in fright, your first instinct might be to reprimand him for catching that poor animal but really, you should reward him! He’s simply doing what these dogs were bred to do: To hunt underground, and that’s what Earthdog tests assess.
Earthdog tests gauge how good a hunter your dog really is. They’re non-competitive and each dog is judged on his own abilities for seeking and locating rodents underground. But fear not, rodent lovers: In these tests, rats are safely caged and not harmed!
If you are brand new to the world of Earthdog and would like to get involved, you should attend a test in your area by checking out the event calendar. AKC Clubs can be a great source of education for newcomers. Check out what clubs are licensed in your area by going to our online club directory.