In This Chapter
- Showing off your mixed-breed dog
- Playing games
- Becoming a good citizen
- Having fun outdoors
- Helping others
There are loads of fun activities you can do with your mixedbreed dog — none of which require a pedigree! From competition to helping others, you can participate in many activities where both of you would have fun.
The more events you work for, and the more titles you earn with your dog, the better you and he work together. Never buy into the idea that your dog has accomplished all he can — there is always more to learn! You can also be certain that the more you teach him, the happier he’ll be, because you’re stimulating his brain and exercising his body.
If you want to help others, you can enlist your mixed breed as a helper. The first step is to prove that he’s a good citizen. The next is to train him and prepare yourself as a therapy team going to schools, hospitals, and convalescent homes visiting those who can’t have pets. The presence of an animal has great healing power. Just as your mixed breed keeps your heart whole, merely touching his coat or receiving a wet kiss from his lips has great benefits for another person. Your dog will love traveling to places with you, and the attention from everyone is a huge boost to his ego.
The things you can do and the places you can go together are endless. Take the time to peruse the possibilities in the great world of mixed-breed dogs!
Competing with Your Dog at the Classic K-9 Show
The North American Dog Racing Association’s Classic K-9 Show (www.classick9.com) is open to dogs of all breeds or mixed combinations. It’s a great venue to participate in many types of canine sports to earn titles and prizes. These include high jumping and timed agility.
The Web site is filled with information on how to join the organization as well as about competing. You can find an event schedule, so you can check out a show in your area (or at least close). If you see one in your area, go watch! Being a spectator is almost as fun as competing — plus, it’ll give you a sense of whether this is an activity you and your dog would enjoy!
Participating in United Kennel Club Events
The United Kennel Club (www.ukcdogs.com) is the largest all-breed performance registry in the world. It registers dogs from across the United States and in 25 other countries. More than 60 percent of its licensed events are tests of natural abilities such as hunting, training, and instinct. They emphasize the dog’s performance not appearance.
The United Kennel Club is one of the few purebred dog clubs that also allows mixed-breed dogs to compete. The club members believe that this will improve the health and well-being of all dogs.
The UKC sanctions obedience trials, agility, dog sport, weight pulling, and terrier races. All mixed-breed dogs are welcome to compete in these performance classes. They are offered throughout the year all over North America.
Having Fun at Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America Events
The Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (MBDCA; www.mbdca.org) is a registry for mixed breeds. It provides the same opportunities for competitions that the American Kennel Club does for purebred dogs. The MBDCA doesn’t have the same conformation-type competition of the AKC (which judges dogs according to a breed standard, that includes all kinds of mostly appearance-related attributes). But the MBDCA does have performance events where you can earn similar titles to those put on AKC dogs, as well as a conformation competition where the standard is toward general soundness as well as a good temperament and manners (as opposed to appearance).
In obedience, your dog can earn titles in Novice (on- and off-leash obedience routines), Open (off-leash obedience routines), and Utility (advanced off-leash obedience routines), as well as the title of Obedience Trial Champion. The title initials are the same as the AKC initials, only with the letters MB in front of them, denoting that the dog is a mixed breed. For example, the title for Mixed Breed Companion Dog is MB-CD; for Mixed Breed Companion Dog Excellent, MB-CDX; for Mixed Breed Utility Dog, MB-UD; and for Mixed Breed Utility Dog Excellent, MB-UDX.
Training Your Dog to Dive
I’ll never forget watching my first dock diving competition. I loved not only seeing those dogs racing down a dock and diving, but observing how much fun they and their handlers were having.
Dock diving is open to all dogs of any breed or mix. This event has become so popular that it’s featured on ESPN, called the Big Air Games. Because of the sport’s quick rise in popularity, the organization Dock Dogs was formed to oversee all the smaller organizations dedicated to this sport. Its Web site (www.dockdogs.com) features information on how to get started and a list of events throughout the country. Another great site for information on this sport is Sport Mutt (www.sportmutt.com).
In order to enjoy dock diving, you just need to have access to water with either a diving board or dock. Your dog must love the water. Dogs who have a high desire to retrieve are also naturals for this sport, because they’ll want to chase down the ball as it soars over the water.
Currently, there aren’t any training clubs where you can go to learn how to teach your dog to dock dive. But the sites mentioned earlier do explain how to train your dog and where to go for dock diving events.
Joining the Fun at the Australian Shepherd Club of America
Formed in 1957 to promote the Australian Shepherd Dog breed, it has opened its doors to allowing mixed-breed dogs to compete in ASCA-sanctioned shows and earn titles as well.
Before Australian Shepherds were recently accepted as a purebred by the American Kennel Club, they were only allowed to compete in open matches or at ASCA-sanctioned shows. Due to these restrictions, the group decided to allow other dogs not recognized by the AKC to also compete at its shows.
ASCA holds obedience and other performance events around the country. Visit the Web site (www.asca.org) to find an event near you.
Camping and Hiking: Finding Fun Outdoor Activities
What’s better than exploring and enjoying the great outdoors with your mixed breed? At Dog Play (www.dogplay.com), you can find a useful list of camps and outdoor activities for dog enthusiasts. These camps offer accommodations, meals, scheduled activities and classes, a chance for dogs to play with other dogs, and opportunities for you to hike, bike, canoe, and explore. Whether you go with a special someone or by yourself, you’ll meet many other dog enthusiasts who share your passion for mixed breeds.
Helping Your Dog Become a Good Citizen
The Canine Good Citizen (www.akc.org/events/cgc/index.cfm) is a great certificate to work toward with your dog. It proves your dog’s temperament and control as well as social skills. Since its inception, it has become a popular goal for many dog owners.
There are even communities that require all dogs living within that community to be CGC-certified!
Though the AKC is a club for purebred dogs, it offers the CGC test to mixed breeds as well. You can often find CGC tests listed in the newspaper, or online at www.akc.org, where there are listings for each state.
To earn a CGC title, the dog must pass ten tests of social skill, temperament, and obedience. These tests include
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Being examined for overall health and well-being
- Going out for a walk (walking on a leash)
- Walking through a crowd
- Performing a Sit and Down on command, as well as staying for a short period of time
- Coming when called
- Observing your dog’s reaction to new objects and the presence of strangers
- Observing your dog’s reaction to the presence of other dogs
- Observing how your dog reacts when left alone for a short period of time
Help Your Dog Help Other People
If you’re interested in training your dog to be a therapy dog (who goes to hospitals and convalescent centers to bring a smile to people’s faces), the Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org) is the place to start. You can find out where to take a course in your area. (Courses are offered throughout the United States and internationally.)
Courses help you select and prepare animals for visits to nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and convalescent centers. They also cover how to recognize stress in your dog and provide information regarding animal health and safety. The Delta Society course also teaches you about the special needs of specific client groups, such as children, the elderly, or the physically challenged. This course also covers the legal codes related to the facilities you’ll be visiting with your dog. Prior to passing its stringent testing, your dog must be well trained.
When your mixed breed is certified, you and your dog can visit hospitals, nursing homes, and schools bringing joy and healing to everyone. You’ll need to make arrangements with each organization regarding appropriate scheduled visiting times and discuss the individuals you’ll be working with. The Delta Society stresses preparedness and patient confidentiality, so this preparation will help you perform a better service.
Dancing with Your Mixed Breed
Yes, you can actually dance with your dog. This sport is known as Canine Freestyle, because dancing with dogs is not based on a specific pattern, but rather on your ability to choreograph your movements and your dog’s movements in tandem, to music, incorporating obedience, natural canine movement, and fancy trick behaviors.
Several Freestyle clubs and organizations hold events all over the United States and some throughout the world. The two largest clubs are the Canine Freestyle Federation (www.canine-freestyle.org) and The World Canine Freestyle Organization (www.worldcaninefreestyle.org). It is now offered by the AKC as a pointearning event, and mixed breeds are allowed to compete with prior approval of the AKC.
Flying High with Flyball
Flyball is a relay race. At the starting signal the dogs are sent over a series of four jumps to a box where they must trigger the release of a ball or beanbag, take hold of it, and race back to their handlers over the four jumps, carrying the ball or beanbag all the way. The first team of four dogs and handlers to complete the course wins the race. Points are assigned according to the dogs’ speed.
There’s a reason this sport is paired with cheering: It’s fun for your dog, fun for you and your team, and fun to watch. The sport is open to all dogs — purebred and mixed breed alike.
The North American Flyball Association (www.flyball.org) is the governing body for this sport. At www.flyballdogs.com, you can get information about how the game is run, what titles are available, where to find tournaments, and how to train.
by Miriam Fields-Babineau