Dog sports are continuing to gain popularity while new sports are developed. Retailers that have a basic understanding of dog sports can better recommend products and services from their brick-and-mortar store.
It’s also important to know that developing a relationship with local dog sport clubs can open new sponsorship opportunities and build stronger customer relationships and community ties.
While we won’t be able to cover every dog sport here, I’ve provided a brief overview of some of the most popular sports as well as new sports.
Dog agility competitions have been around for years and are often broadcast on television and now online. In dog agility, handers and dogs complete a pre-designed obstacle course. Placements are determined based off of speed in which the course is completed. Obstacles include the dog walks, tunnels, jumps and weave poles among others. Consider stocking tug toys, high value dog treats, training platforms and canine fitness equipment for this active dog-and-human team.
In disc competitions, dogs chase and catch flying discs to accrue points. While there are several disc dog organizations, I’d like to highlight the newest organization: UpDog Challenge. This disc dog organization prides itself on being beginner friendly. Unlike other organizations, UpDog has disc games that incorporate some agility equipment such as jumps and tunnels. In disc competitions, dogs chase and catch flying discs to accrue points. Consider carrying quality discs, and outdoor cooling gear for these customers.
Rally obedience and competitive obedience are two competitions that possess some similarities. In rally, dogs and handlers complete a course designed by the judge. Located in the ring are signs that are set out to display instructions for the team. Exercises include heeling, basic obedience skills such as sit, down and stay, and in the upper levels jumps. Handlers are able to encourage their dog and talk to their dog throughout the course. In competitive obedience, the judge calls out instructions for the dog and handler team to complete. These include exercises such as heeling, stays, and distance recalls.
In the upper levels scent discrimination, directed retrieving, and directed jumping exercises are incorporated. High value tug toys made with real fur, and single ingredient dog treats such as beef liver and chicken hearts are a big hit for this demographic.
Dock diving is a sport where dogs run the length of the dock and jump into a pool to retrieve a toy. The dog’s performance can be measures by length of distance jumped or the height of its jump, dependent on the game being played. Consider carrying floating bumpers or other retrievable toys as well as quick dry dog towels for this demographic.
Barn hunt is one of the fastest growing dog sports. Many dogs have been purposefully bred to rid farms and ships of vermin such as rats and mice. These dogs typically excel at the sport of Barn hunt. Barn hunt is a sporting event that demonstrates a dogs hunting ability in a barn-like setting using straw bales to create climbing and tunneling options. In upper levels dogs must hunt for and find up to 5 rats hidden in protective tubes.
K9 Nose Work
K9 nose work is a dog sport created to hone a dog’s detecting capability. In this sport dogs are trained to alert on the scent of birch, anise, and clove. Dogs are trained to search interior buildings and outside locations, including cars. Dogs will exhibit a trained alert behavior such as sitting or barking at the source of the odor. Consider carrying products designed to keep dogs cool and hydrated. If a dog is overheated and panting, it will be unable to scent properly.
Many of these sports offer free admission to the general public to spectate and cheer on other dogs. For larger events, local vendors are often invited to sell their products, provide prizes to winners, or donate a bag stuffer item such as a free sample or coupon for the store. Networking with local kennel clubs and dog sport teams can put your business in the spotlight, attracting loyal customers to your store.