Book Review: Canine Sports & Games

Canine Sports & Games: Great Ways to Get Your Dog Fit and Have Fun Together! by Kristin Mehus-Roe, Storey Publishing, LLC (January 21, 2009)

When I first started thinking about exercising with Zola, the activity that came to mind was running.    Running with my dog lead me to the sport of canicross, that lead me to skijoring, and scootering, that lead me to this book.     This book opened my eyes to a bunch of competitive sports (some of them, like choreographed dancing with your dog, sound a bit crazy).     It also reinforced what I have been suspecting for awhile – dogs that get lots of exercise are healthier and have fewer behavioral problems.     When people play with their dogs they form a stronger bond than if they are simply providing their dog’s room and board.

What I Learned

The book covers 19 recognized canine competitive sports (a subset of the list that I found on wikipedia) but really good coverage nonetheless.    For each of these 19 sports, the author gives an excellent description of how the sport is played, what it would take to learn to play it, characteristics of dogs that tend to do well in that sport, equipment needed, and safety concerns.  She also provides references to competitive organizations affiliated with the sport.    Right off the bat I am thinking that Zola and I should  try our hands at flyball, dock jumping, agility, canicross, skijoring, and scootering.    My gut tells me that any one of these sports requires a ton of practice, and a big commitment.    The reality is that most of us have so little time in our busy lives, even squeezing a run into our schedules can feel daunting.

This is why I was pleasantly surprised to see that the author also covered sports that Zola and I can do on our own time.      In addition to running, the author discusses hiking, biking, swimming, and skiing.     This strikes me as the place where most of us can really benefit.      I already run, I already hike, bike, ski and swim.     The only trick is to figure out how to easily include Zola into these activities.  Once that happens, I’m killing multiple birds with one stone – I’m exercising and so is Zola, we are playing together and bonding.  I’m not thinking about how to fit her segregated activity into my busy schedule.   I’m not sacrificing my recreation for hers.   Everybody wins.

The Bottom Line

This book is an easy fun read.   It’s very well written and nicely produced.     It breaks out interesting side-bars of information, like what breeds are inclined to which sports and what characteristics of a dog might mean that a sport is for them.   The book advocates good sportsmanship, nice manners, healthy lifestyles, and keeping it all in perspective.     Sound advice, even if you don’t have a dog in your life.   If you are considering getting a dog or you’re looking for new ways to play with the dog you have, this book is an excellent resource.

PS – Wondering if a specific sport is covered by this book?    Check out the free book sample at  Barnes & Noble.com.

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