Guild of Shepherds & Collies

7 Great Sports for Herding Dogs

sports for herding dogs

Check Out These Great Sports for Herding Dogs

If you have a herding breed dog, you know these intelligent and active dogs need an outlet for all that energy! Dog sports are great for not only blowing off steam, but also exercising the brain. The old adage “A tired dog is a good dog” could not be more true for herding breeds!

Check out these fun and challenging dogs sports that are perfect for herding breeds:



This one is a no-brainer. Herding breeds were born to herd! Even if you don’t live on a farm, you might be able to tap into your dog’s natural instincts and give competitive herding a try. To get started, simply Google “herding club” and your city or county to find a group near you. The American Kennel Club website also has a search function where you can locate a local group. You can meet like-minded people, sign up for herding classes and even take your dog to a herding trial for an instinct test where your dog will be exposed to livestock and an evaluator will see if his instincts start to kick in. Of course, the Guild of Shepherds & Collies is a great way to connect, too!



Perhaps one of the best-known dog sports, agility trials are consistently dominated by herding breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Dog and handler must work as a team to navigate a timed obstacle course as flawlessly and as quickly as possible. Intelligence, speed, and physical agility are the keys to conquering this exciting sport. Visit the United States Dog Agility Association website to search for an agility club near you. You can also search on the AKC website


Herding dogs who love to run, jump, and fetch will go wild for flyball - a fast-paced, timed team relay event. One at a time, each dog on a team of four dogs races over a set of hurdles, hits a special box to release a tennis ball, grabs the ball and returns back over the hurdles so the next dog can be released to run. Two teams race simultaneously and the fastest team wins! Find a team in your area at the North American Flyball Association website or


There’s a reason so many police search dogs are herding breeds: their keen intelligence and their great nose. Pet dogs can participate in trials that put that incredible scenting ability to the test. Dogs love to sniff, and giving them an outlet to exercise this natural ability is a win-win for everyone. For a list of nosework instructors in your area, visit the National Association of Canine Scent Work website

Read more about Nosework in The Herding Dog's Advantage in Scent Detection Sports, by Guild Evangelist Eva Raczka


Dock jumping

Got a water-loving herding dog? Dock jumping (sometimes called dock diving) is high-octane fun and a great way to stay cool all summer! Training for this wet sport is easy—all you need is a body of water (pool, lake or pond) and a bumper (a plastic retrieving dummy that floats). Learn how to get started at Ultimate Air Dogs or DockDogs.

Learn more in Dock Diving: Now for Herding Breed Dogs, by Lies Rosema


Disc dog

Nothing is quite as impressive as the high-flying jumps, tricks and catches executed by advanced disc dog teams. Herding dogs excel at this exciting sport, which is physically demanding for both dog and handler.  It’s easy to get started on your own with just your dog, a Frisbee and some open space. Learn more at



Even if you don’t have access to live animals, you can still put your dog’s herding instincts to the test with treibball, a competitive sport in which dog’s “herd” large balls around using a combination of obedience and herding cues. Treibball started out in Germany, but it’s gaining traction in the United States. Learn more at the American Treibball Association.


Article By:
Jackie Brown


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