Dog Sports for Reactive Dogs

Having a reactive dog means a lot of the traditional dog world and dog events are shut to you if your dog has trouble controlling themselves around other dogs. And reactive dogs are very often the dogs who need a job. High energy. Sharp. Busy brain.

These days with advances in technology and dog training, there are a lot more options for competing and titling with a reactive dog. Now you can send in a video of your dog performing and your dog can earn titles in a variety of different sports. This is also a great option for people who live far away from dog sport venues. 

Agility: The Virtual Agility League “provides a non-traditional, skills-based agility venue that allows people to submit dog agility performances for review by video. To give reactive or distracted dogs an equal chance to show off their agility skills, and recognition for the people who love and patiently work with them.”

Disc Dog: If your dog is a frisbee pro, Pamela Johnson offers disc dog titles by video. She also offers canine freestyle routine and trick titles

Musical Freestyle: Dogs and humans show off a dance routine choreographed to music. “Rally Freestyle Elements offers video entries in Musical Freestyle for those that either live too far from live events or for those dogs not suited to the show environment.”

Nosework: Nosework is traditionally recommended for reactive dogs, both as a way to build confidence and because the sport is set up to accommodate reactive dogs and their needs. This sport is also good for dogs with various disabilities. 

Parkour: In Dog Parkour, dogs use skills from human parkour and dog agility to overcome obstacles. “Dog Parkour helps with confidence and overcoming fears, and it is a low impact but challenging activity for any canine athlete.”

Rally – FrEe:  This sports combines cues from Musical Freestyle and the competition format of Rally-Obedience. “It emphasizes the precise execution of fundamental freestyle and obedience skills while encouraging creative and novel behaviors on a Rally-Obedience style course.” 

Trick Dog: Shake. Roll over. Sit pretty. Fetch! Do More With Your Dog! offers trick dog titles from novice to champion.

Photo by Grace W.
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  1. How cool! I didn't know there were virtual agility trials! Our trainer has told us about some activities at the end of in-person trials near us where the ring is totally closed off so that it's just your dog and they can't see other dogs anywhere and only people you've invited in (like classmates/trainers) are watching and you can request a judge if you'd like. Barley and I might give that a try sometime, but the virtual agility sounds great, too!

  2. We have heard about sending in agility videos rather than attending events. I guess if you really can't go it would be an option, but for us, half the fun of sports is the event itself. We are pumped for this weekend with two days of nose work. Mom likes the nerves explosion before I work, and loves the time we get to spend together and hopefully get a title or two. Nose work is really great for reactive dogs, though.

  3. This is such great information, it's so good for families of reactive dogs to know that their dogs can compete in sports as well. We have the challenge of not only a reactive dog but living in a rural area as well where it's difficult to find competitions, so some of that virtual stuff is interesting. We definitely have nose work and possibly a trick dog title on Luke's list.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  4. Oh wow, I had no idea about being able to "virtually compete" – that's such a clever way of giving reactive dogs a chance to show off their skills! Love it!
    …Mr. N looks cute as always… 🙂

  5. Interesting. I am not sure what I think about earning a title based on a video. One of the difficult parts of testing is doing it on the given test day with all of the distractions.

  6. This is a great idea – not just for reactive dogs, but for other dogs too who maybe can't afford to travel or are super remote! How wonderful dat dis exists – thanks for sharing!

  7. Great ideas for Kilo. We do virtual trick training with several groups through Facebook and Videos. We also do obstacle courses in the house and outside. Mr N looks adorable.

  8. It is my dream and intention to have a little agility playground type of thing for Cookie one of these days. For now she’s just happy chasing after small critters.