Chapter 10 - Getting Started In Performance Sports
One of the most wonderful things about the Collie is its amazing versatility. It excels at competition, while its herding heritage makes it a strong yet gentle and faithful worker. Regardless of the activity, the Collie is an eager partner.
Beyond being a beloved home companion, the Collie can be trained to perform a wide range of duties, sports or activities. For children especially, activities with Collies can develop important character qualities. Those competing in performance learn sportsmanship, dedication, poise, and self-esteem in addition to an abiding respect and love for their Collie. Teamwork between Collie and owner, child or adult, is extremely satisfying. All activities at home, whether your Collie is a star athlete or king of your yard, begin with training.
Collie, all-breed, obedience and sporting clubs hold frequent training classes throughout the year. Look for the classes in your area or visit the AKC website: https://www.akc.org/puppies/training/ to learn more.
To ensure a well-mannered Collie, training should be an integral part of your dog’s life. Obedience training teaches your Collie to obey commands, be attentive, and work with you. It’s never too late to get started. Join an obedience club or training class in your area for hands-on experience. Supplement this by reading books and viewing websites. (See Resources Chapter 12.) After completing basic obedience training, competition obedience training follows for those wishing to enter this sport.
Developed by AKC, rally starts dog and owner at a beginning level in preparation for advanced obedience work later. Besides being fun, rally enables both handler and Collie to experience teamwork and the thrill of competition. Not surprisingly, Rally is rapidly growing in popularity!
Agility is an exciting sport where dogs fly through air, jump through hoops, scale A-frames, effortlessly run obstacle courses and perform a bevy of other amazing feats. Collies are athletes who do well at all of this. They love the activity and exercise, especially working with and pleasing their owner!
Herding is an instinct found in Collies. It requires being able to move livestock from place to place with uncanny precision. Watching a good herding Collie do its job is truly magical. To determine your Collie’s degree of herding instinct, have it tested by an accredited herding association, club or expert in your area.
Tracking is a fascinating part of search and rescue work. As a sport, tracking demonstrates the Collie’s ability to recognize and follow human scent. It enables Collie and owner to work together outdoors while enabling the dogs to use their highly evolved sensory skills and intelligence.
The celebrated bond between dog and human is legendary. Collies serve by giving comfort and companionship to the ill, hospital-bound, elderly, and by helping physically challenged. Along with the Collie’s soft fur, loving gentle nature, and friendly face comes the warmth and caring that are an unmistakable part of true Collie character.
The Collie was developed as an all-around farm dog. These tasks included moving stock, hauling produce to market, feed to livestock, wood, milk and supplies to the house. Carting is also a natural part of the Collie’s working heritage. http://www.collieclubofamerica.org/carting.pdf
Scent Work is a sport that mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate to their handler that the scent has been found. AKC Scent Work takes this amazing working relationship and turns it into a fun game that any dog can play.
Barn Hunt tests the nose, speed, agility and surefootedness of dogs that have a history of above ground vermin hunting. Dogs and their handlers work as a team to locate and mark rats (held safely in aerated tubes) hidden in a maze of straw or hay bales.
LURE COURSING, FLYBALL, & MORE
Lure coursing involves chasing a mechanically operated lure. Competition is typically limited to dogs of purebred sighthound breeds, which were involved in the development of the Collie. There is an AKC pass/fail trial for Collies called the coursing ability test.
Flyball is a relay race in which teams compete against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a spring-loaded box that releases a ball to be caught when the dog presses the pad, then returns back to their handlers while carrying the ball. More information is available through the North American Flyball Association, www.flyball.org.
Sports like these are great for high energy Collies. Advanced titles in these sports and others such as back packing, Frisbee competition, scent hurdles and sled dog racing are available through the American Working Collie Association, www.awca.net.