Are There Dog Olympics?

While there is not one massive world wide dog Olympics event where countries compete against each other, there are several smaller events held around the world each year.  Most of these events are organized in order to raise money for a variety of dog related charities or rescue groups.  As well as being a fun family day out, dog Olympics provides an excellent opportunity for your dog to show off their skills and also provides socialization opportunities for your well behaved dog.

What Are Dog Olympics Events?

There are many types of competitive dog events you can enter your dog into.  Some of the most popular include:

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Herding Trials or Sheepdog Trials

Are events where dogs move a group of animals (usually sheep) from one area in a field to another area under instruction by their owner.  The difficulty with this is that there are obstacles in the way that the dog and sheep have to negotiate either around, over, or through.  These obstacles are things like bridges, around gates, or enclosures.

Dog Frisbee or Disc Dog

In disc dog competitions dogs compete in teams of two (one human and one dog) in distance catching and freestyle catching events.  Distance catching is essentially a toss and fetch event with points being awarded for the distances reached.  Freestyle however, is quite different.  This is where teams show off their short choreographed routine to impress both the judges and the crowd.

If you would like to give the sport a go with your pooch, check out our favorite dog discs here:


Dog agility is where a handler guides their dog through an obstacle course.  These events are scored on both the length of time taken to complete the course, and also how accurately the dog navigated the course.  Handlers are unable to use any incentives to guide their dog and can only do so by using body signals or their voice.


In tracking events dog’s get to use their most powerful tool, their sense of smell.  Here dogs have to navigate a scent trail to locate a ‘missing’ item or person, essentially the trail becomes a search and rescue event for the dog.  In the beginning scent trails are usually up to 500 yards long and are laid between 30 minutes to two hours prior to the dog starting.  For the more accomplished dogs they can compete on trails that are up to double this length, and where the scent path was laid for up to five hours prior to the start. 

Dog Olympics

Dog Olympics is essentially a competitive sporting event where your dog competes in a range of athletic and non-athletic events.  The type of events involved varies widely between each dog Olympics games, and can include things such as limbo, howling contest, frisbee toss, high jump, best trick, longest tail and longest stay.

Dog Olympic Games

While serious dog Olympians will compete in the ECF European Championship in England this fall there are several canine games happening across this country that offer something for everyone. “It was never meant to be a real serious competition. It’s all fun,” says Anne Solis, a spokeswoman for the Doggie Olympics, sponsored by the Larimer Animal People Partnership. This event began 16 years ago as a way for owners to bond with their dogs. Here’s a look at this and other similar competitions:

Doggie Olympics, Fort Collins, Colo.

Organizers offer 14 different games in four divisions: competitive, fun, junior handler (for owners 15 and younger), and senior dog (for dogs older than 10). Participants register in advance if they want to be eligible for medals. Some 150 dogs compete, but many more dog lovers and their dogs show up to cheer on the competitors, laugh at their antics and cruise vendor booths, says Solis.

Among the more popular events is the hot dog retrieve, in which dogs race to retrieve a hot dog from a bucket of water and return it to their owners. It’s OK if the hot dog comes back either “internally or externally,” says Solis. The Monday morning obstacle course is a crowd-pleaser, as owners coach their dogs through a course that mimics the routine of getting a kid ready for school, including the struggle to put a T-shirt on the dog.

The event also offers demonstrations of up-and-coming dog sports — another way to encourage dog owners to spend time with their dogs. The Doggie Olympics occasionally draw participants from as far away as South Dakota and Wyoming.

“We start in March, and it takes a lot of hours from a lot of volunteers to pull it off,” says Solis. This year’s Olympics take place in September.

North Carolina State University’s Dog Olympics

Each fall, North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine holds the Dog Olympics in Raleigh, N.C., to raise funds for local rescue groups. “It’s become a great community event,” says spokesman David Green. “We encourage people to bring their dogs even if they don’t compete.”

Whether your dog is a star athlete or a lap-sitter, the Dog Olympics offer the potential for stardom. Competitions include a Frisbee toss, a high jump, an owner/dog look-a-like contest, and Best Trick and Longest Tail awards. The Olympic Village provides booths where veterinary students can share information with dog owners. “We make it an opportunity to do some teaching,” says Green.

The school sets the schedule for the Olympics once it knows the football schedule. Simply search for “N.C. State” and “Dog Olympics” online this summer to learn the date and more information.

Woofstock Dog Festival

Looking for some fun dog competitions near you? Dog festivals also often offer games. At the Woofstock Dog Festival in Roanoke, Va., there are no Olympic rings or medals, but plenty of opportunities for competition for you and your dog.

Games include stupid pet tricks, pet/parent look-alike contests, bobbing for hot dogs and a lucky duck game, in which dogs pick squeaky ducks for prizes. Of course, the duck itself is prize enough for plenty of dogs, says Waynette Anderson, president and owner of Sponsor Hounds, which sponsors the event.

“It’s all just fun games,” says Anderson, who adds that dogs can either directly participate or just sit in their owners’ laps and enjoy the day.

In general, you can expect a relaxed attitude and plenty of “Atta-boys” and “Atta-girls” at dog Olympic-style games across the country. “To me, it’s my happiest day of the year,” says Anderson. “I’m very inspired by dogs.”

What are Dog Agility Olympics?

Agility Olympics is ideal for high energy dogs like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies.  Teams of two (handler and dog) compete against the clock to complete an obstacle course as accurately as possible.  Dogs competing in these events have to be trained to a high standard as their handlers are only able to guide them by using their voice and body signals.  Handlers are unable to touch either the dog or any of the obstacles during dog agility events.

Do Agility Dogs Make Money?

Dog agility is a sport that is becoming more and more popular with dog owners all over the world.  While competitions can offer prize money it generally does not cover the cost of entering and competing in the competition.  Dog agility can be a fun sport to get into and while the payoffs are not financial, there are other rewards, such as increasing the bond you have with your dog, exercise for both you and your dog, and increased socialization opportunities for your dog.

Should My Dog Do Agility?

If you are looking for a way to improve the way you communicate with your dog then agility training could be the right option for you.  If you are looking for a way to increase the amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation your dog receives, then agility training could be the right option for your dog.  Agility provides many benefits for both you and your dog including:

  • Improving how you communicate with your dog
  • Increases the bond you have with your dog
  • Your dog learns to trust you
  • Exercises your dog’s body and mind

All these benefits combined can result in a reduction of behavior problems – for you and your dog.

If you would like to find out more about dog agility, check out these excellent books.

What Obstacles Are in a Dog Agility Course?

An agility course usually comprises around 15 – 20 obstacles that a dog has to travel through, over or around on the direction of it’s handler.  

There are usually three contact obstacles:

1. A-Frame

An A-Frame obstacle is two ramps hinged together (at the short end) to form a triangle.  The dog needs to make contact with certain areas of the frame which are usually clearly marked.

2. Dog Walk

Similar to a cat walk a dog walk is a raised plank with access ramps at both ends.  As it is a contact obstacle, the dog is required to make contact with certain areas of the obstacle and these are clearly marked for accurate judging.

3. See-Saw

The third type of contact obstacle found in agility courses is a see-saw.  An agility see-saw is one plank that is supported by a central bracket.  As the dog moves along the obstacle the plank tips giving the see-saw effect.  There are certain areas on the obstacle that the dog has to make contact with and these are clearly marked.

Along with these three standard contact obstacles, an agility course also contains other obstacles such as:

  • Weave Poles

A straight line of around 12 flexible poles the dog has to weave through.

  • Pipe Tunnel

A curved tunnel that the handler needs to guide the dog through. 

  • Hurdles

The height of the hurdles depends on the size of the competing dog.

  • Hoop

This is a raised circular obstacle that the dog jumps through without touching the hoop.

What are Rescue Dog Olympics?

These fun filled festivals can be found countrywide, and are organized as a way of promoting and encouraging people to adopt a dog rather than buying one.  Rescue dog games provide an opportunity for people to have fun with their dog while they participate in a range of fun filled games and events with other dog owners and their dogs.  There is also plenty of opportunity to meet and talk with volunteers who work with rescue dogs, and even to meet and adopt your new best friend.

Dog Olympics at Home

The Olympic athlete in your family may be the one you pet in bed every night. Your dog can be an Olympian, even without years of preparation and dedication and the fun can begin at home.  There is a vast array of games and activities you can play with your pooch and your dog loving friends. 

Dog Olympics at Home Game Ideas

  • Snoopy Says

A canine version of Simon Says, dogs and their owners must follow Snoopy’s instructions, but only if Snoopy says so. 

  • Doggy Limbo

Split the dogs by their size – small or large.  Have them shimmy under a low bar to see how low they can go.

  • Dog Disc

Compete against your friends to see who’s dog can catch the most discs.

  • Doggy Running Races

The dogs are lined up at the start line.  The owners call their dogs and the first dog to reach their owner and sit is the winner.

  • Tail Wag Off

Owners stand facing their dogs and through only talking to their dog, attempt to get their dog to wag their tail.  The dog with the best wag is the winner.

Dog Olympics at Home Agility Course

If you want to add an extra dimension to your Home Olympics or playing games isn’t for you or your dog, you can make your own agility course using fairly simple materials.

Weave poles, hoop jumps, hurdles, and standard jumps can all be made using PVC piping.  

A see-saw can be made by making a central bracket out of PVC pipes and attaching a plank to this using plumber straps.  Make sure the see-saw has some form of grip so your dog won’t slip off.  

A child’s tunnel can be used as an agility tunnel.  Buy a flexible one so you can create the curve.

If you would like further ideas on the best activities to do with your dog, check out our article ‘The Best Summer Activities for You and Your Dog‘.

Article written by Author: Kim Boatman and The Dog Daily Expert

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