Originally published on ArlNow.com 

Spring is just around the corner. Really. And spring is a great time to get involved in a sport with your dog.

Dog sports continue to grow in popularity for several reasons. First, it’s a great way to advance your dog’s training. No matter what activity you choose, your dog’s training will improve.

Second, dog sports are a great way to burn off both physical and mental energy. They are especially great for young adolescent dogs with lots of extra energy.

Third, doing an activity with your dog is a great way to improve or expand your relationship. Like any team sport, dog sports require you and your dog to work together and can generate a greater understanding between the teammates. Finally, dog sports are fun. It’s fun to see your dog learn a new complex skill, even if you never plan on competing.

The best way to get started is to join a beginner class. Most beginner sport classes require your dog to have had some basic training already, so you might need to start there first. Keep in mind that sport classes are different from basic obedience classes.

Sport classes don’t end, just like training or practicing a sport doesn’t end. You might take a single class several times before you master the content and move up. Serious competitors are always practicing and training.

One of the best things about sport classes is that it gives you lots of fun tricks to work on with your dog between classes. Even if you never advance or compete, working on tasks steadily and consistently with your dog builds the relationship and strengthens your bond.

The most popular dog sports are: Dog agility, where you navigate your dog through an obstacle course; Rally Obedience, in which you navigate your dog through a series of obedience exercises; Nose work, where you teach your dog to sniff out specific odors, detection dog style; Flyball, a fast and furious combination of steeplechase and fetch; plus freestyle, Frisbee and other options.

So if you are looking for a fun way to continue working with your dog, find a fun sport class and get started.