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AKC’s Lure-Coursing Test Turns Mixed-Breed Dogs into Tracking Champs

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While we can learn virtually anything by picking up a book, taking a class or going on-line, some skills are just plain inherent; you have them or you don’t. Think Olympic athlete, star hockey or tennis player, and even champion hunting, herding or coursing dog.

Like most of us, you probably think your pup is a natural born champion when it comes to chasing down a ball or catching a Frisbee and now you may have the chance to prove it. You see although the fast-growing sport of lure-coursing is reserved primarily for sight-hound breeds (e.g. Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Afghan, Whippet), if your little guy loves to run and chase things, this may be his ticket to owning an actual coursing title!

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The term “coursing” actually refers to your dog’s basic instinct to track by sight and chase small prey (in this instance, it’s a mechanical lure) and now the highly esteemed American Kennel Club (AKC) that deals primarily with recognized purebred dogs, is running tests to rank the coursing skills of mixed breed dogs that can include the family pet! While these tests won’t ever qualify him for Crufts or Westminster, they are a chance to formally gauge his talents against others and gain bragging rights if he earns himself a title.

So how does it work?  Right off the mark, your dog needs to be at least 1 year old and have an AKC, Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) or Canine Partners number (just check out their websites to apply for your number).

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On the day of the event, your dog will run solo, through a specified course while chasing a lure. He must do this a number of times, non-stop and within a stated maximum amount of time – so without becoming distracted, winded or stopping for a pee-break. The test is challenging but not gruelling, so expect your pooch to have fun during the process!

Unlike the trials undertaken by champion purebreds, your boy won’t have to run long distances or make extreme turns as he pursues the lure (which can be tough on joints). In fact, the test has been modified so that dogs less than 12 inches in height must cover approximately 300 yards within 1.5 minutes and larger dogs approximately 600 yards in no more than 2 minutes.

To learn more about the lure-coursing tests or to find a date and location near you, check out the official AKC website.

Additionally, AKC offers tips for those interested in having their dog participate in this fun sport:

  • Make sure your pooch is healthy and capable of running a course. If in doubt, get your veterinarian to check him out before committing.
  • Gauge his interest in the sport by testing him with lures and how long they hold his attention. It may be shorter than you think.
  • On the day of his test, bring lots of fresh water, a strong, soft leash, and AKC recommends you bring his crate if the lure field is a distance from your vehicle.
  • Dress for an active day by wearing comfy clothes and shoes that will allow you to easily catch, release and hold onto your excited dog.
  • Manners count and it’s important your pooch have obedience basics down pat. With lots of dogs in a high energy environment, you’ll need your pooch to come, sit and stay on command.

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