Watching the family dog plod around the backyard and snooze on the ottoman may not be all that entertaining, but seeing his more agile counterparts in action is.
Top canine athletes from all over the country are competing Sunday in a doggie Olympics of sorts, sailing over hurdles, leaping into water and tackling obstacles at lightning speed. The event, called the CynoSport World Games, is at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
Here’s a breakdown of what you — and your dog, who’s welcome to attend — can see and do at the outdoor meet.
Qualifying rounds have been going on for four days. Sunday, three main events bring together the best dogs for a final face-off.
The Grand Prix of Dog Agility
Look for the top contenders on this obstacle-course challenge to cover 5 yards per second as they climb ramps, barrel through tunnels, weave around poles and jump hurdles. The average time is 3.5 yards per second on the 180-yard course, which includes 17-20 obstacles. Sunday’s tournament marks the 22nd running of the grand prix, one of the most respected canine performance events in the nation and the biggest attraction for fans. There’s also a versatility contest for teams; those dogs will face the standard obstacle course, a jumping course with 17-20 more hurdles, and two wild-card turns around the course in a dash to accumulate points.
This rapid-fire relay pits two teams of four dogs each against each other in an all-out battle for lightening-quick speed. The dogs race side-by-side in four lanes over a 51-foot course, with four jumps spaced at 10-foot intervals. The motivation? A tennis ball shoots out of a spring-loaded box each time a dog triggers a jump. Dogs are matched according to their records, ensuring nose-to-nose finishes. The time to beat is just under 16 seconds.
Dock Jumping Championship
This crowd-pleaser is all about speed, momentum and a dog’s ability to launch itself into the air at the last possible instant. Dogs hurl themselves from a 40-foot platform floating 2 feet above water level, in hot pursuit of a favorite toy or object. Splash Dogs, a governing body for the sport, measures the distance of each jump. The top five jumpers this year average more than 25 feet per leap, and the lead dog, Aries, averages 27 feet. Dock jumping is open to dogs of any size or breed.
Experienced trainers will offer workshops for you and your pooch in a gamut of dog sports. Most require a small additional fee, payable on the spot.
Learn the art of freestyle and toss-and-fetch flying disc from Melissa Heeter, the first female world champion in the sport. She’ll also perform with her practiced dogs.
Teach your dog to run on an enclosed course with hoops, chutes, jumps, tunnels and turns while it chases a rabbit-like lure.
Herding Instinct Test
Herding and mixed breeds can try their paws at sheep-herding with the Arizona Herding Association. The group will also give demonstrations throughout the day, guiding a small herd of sheep through penning fences using dogs who respond to whistles and commands.
Doggie Do-Right Test and Agility Ring
You’ll be asked to lead your dog through “sit,” “down” and “come when called” commands. Pass the test, and you’ll get to introduce your dog to agility obstacles under the one-on-one supervision of an expert trainer from Rescue-A-Golden of Arizona. Sessions take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and cost $5 each.
Pick up a few moves from Arizona Canine Musical Freestylers and Texas canine dance trainer T.C. Cappel, and you and your dog could join the games’ daily Talent Extravaganza. Rosettes are awarded for participating, and you and Fido learn how to move together to your favorite music.
For $20, your dog gets in on a wave, which includes practice time and two competitive jumps. There’s a 40-dog limit per wave, so arrive early (registration opens at 7 a.m.), and don’t forget your dog’s favorite lure.
Your dog can get a walk-up massage for $1 per minute and sample organic dog food and treats at the games’ vendor booths. Other finds include custom collars and leads, art, photo books and jewelry.