Lure coursing is a dog sport where mechanised lures (usually plastic bags) are set in motion via a motorised pulley system is a large field. The lures move and turn very fast as the dogs chase them. The dogs are judged on speed and their ability to closely follow the lure. While only recognised sighthounds can compete for titles, any breed of dog is eligible for practice. Because it mimics natural prey behaviour and allows the dogs to run freely at great speed, it is great fun for them and a blast to watch.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Slip collar
- 6' leash
If you have a purebred sighthound -- a Greyhound, Whippet, Saluki or any one of the other twenty or so sighthound breeds - you may be interested in competing. The organisations that hold sanctioned trials are ASFA, AKC and FCI. Check the links below for more information. This allows the dogs to do what they were bred to do by chasing down simulated prey at high speed. Since it is instinctual behaviour there is no training involved for most dogs. Some dogs, even sighthounds, may not have a very strong prey drive and will require some practice and lure play to teach them it's OK to run away from the handler to chase the lure.
The pulley system is an arrangement of heavy test fishing line laid out on the ground in a large pasture or field. The lures - usually three plastic bags, are powered by a small motor and remote controlled so that speed and turns can be varied. The course is between 600 and 1000 yards with a minimum of four turns. Hounds of the same breed are usually run in brace (two dogs) or trio (three dogs.) If there is only a single representative of a breed at an event that dog will run solo. The dogs are judged on overall ability, speed, endurance and agility.
The dogs are usually so focused on chasing the lures that there is no fear of them running off course or leaving the field. At the start line the dog is straining to run and highly motivated by the sight of the lures. A special slip collar allows the handler to release the dog quickly. At the end of the run the lures return to the start line with the dogs in hot pursuit. The dogs should be walked onleash for a few minutes after each run to cool down.
What if you don't have a sighthound breed? You can still practice and go to fun matches. Many clubs will allow non-eligible dogs, even mixed breeds, to run in practice. Do a club search in the links listed below or do an Internet search on "your state" and "lure coursing" to find clubs. Ask them about their policies. Some clubs hold all-breed practices several times a year. Others hold practice after sanctioned events, when the lure course is set up. This is a great opportunity to watch some of the fastest dogs on earth compete, and then see how your pooch does on the same course!
How to Find Lure Coursing for a Dog
Tips and warnings
- If you attend a lure coursing event, bring water and a water bowl for your dog and make provisions for shade on warm days.
- As with any dog sport, injuries can and do happen. Don't push your dog to run too fast or too often and always walk her onleash before and after each run for warm up and cool down.
- Take care when running puppies and young dogs because the high speed turns can be hard on growing joints. Young dogs are usually run at slower speeds and dogs under a year of age cannot compete.
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