Amateur dog racing – your dog can feel like a greyhound for a day!

Narrated from: Dog Sports

You’ve probably heard of dog racing – the sport where a pack of dogs chase an electric rabbit, while hundreds of spectators cheer the dog they bet on? However, one would notice that only greyhounds are allowed on the track! What of all the other dogs that love running?

Well, few breeds can actually compete with greyhounds – that’s why professional racing is reserved exclusively for greyhounds. For all the other dogs – there is amateur dog racing! The amateur races are held mainly for the pure joy of a doggy run shared by both dogs and humans.

What are these amateur dog races?

Well, anything you want – the main idea is that such races are not regulated and not connected with major profit. You could actually organize a ring in your own town, as long as there are other like-minded people!

The main difficulty lies in finding a suitable place for the race. That is why larger amateur races are usually organized by different national organizations.

Different kinds of lures are used to provide the dogs with an incentive. Some dog races are held on a special track, with or without obstacles. Other dog races – the so-called “lure coursing” – are held on large fields, with the lure “moving” through the grass.

In the present day, live game is rarely used as a lure (thank God!), even though in some countries muzzled dogs are still released to chase hares.

What dog breeds can participate?

Well, in most races any breed can enter, though some amateur dog races are run by breed-specific organizations – the Large Gazehound Racing Association in the USA, for instance.

However, in most cases such races appeal to the owners of dogs belonging to the sighthound group. Sighthounds are basically dog breeds bred for speed, agility – and sharp sight! Greyhounds have monopolized the official races as the fastest breed – whippets, wolfhounds, etc.

Still, larger races are usually organized on a category basis – this means that each dog that enters will face competition adequate to its size and breed. With smaller races, fun is the main goal of the event – so even a poodle can try its luck!


Certain equipment is needed both for the race and for the participating dogs.

Each dog must have a muzzle on – but you need a muzzle designed specifically for your dog’s head, so that the running dog can breathe and pant. Muzzles are needed to stop overexcited dogs from biting at other dogs or at the lure.

Also, most races require your dog to wear a blanket. This way your racer can wear a number and will be easy to distinguish.

Last but not least, the dog is required to wear a collar, so that it can be released and retrieved more easily. The dog must always have its flat collar on, even while it is running. You can use any other type of collar for walking the dog, but during the race only flat collars are safe to stay on!


First off, training is required to get the dog used to the idea of lure chasing. Most dog breeds have an internal prey drive, which will make them chase after a moving object automatically. However, you should not rely on said prey drive – get the dog used to the idea of chasing an inanimate object through the grass. Sometimes a plastic bag on a string, powered by a running human, is more than enough to prepare Fido for the actual lure. And of course, instead of running, one could always use a flirt pole.

If the dog finds the idea of chasing a plastic bag demeaning, you could always try to hide some treats in the practice lure, or to rub some scent in. And remember – always reward the dog when it catches the lure!

You also need to train the dog to be comfortable with a muzzle on. Generally it just takes time, and some good ol’ positive reinforcement. If the dog does not allow you to put the muzzle on, try putting a treat inside – this way the future racer might literally jump in!

And don’t forget – racing dogs need another form of training. Your dog needs to “work out”. Basically, this means that before throwing the dog into a race, the dog must have been subjected to everyday brisk walks – at the very least!

Fortunately, convincing a dog to run around is seldom difficult. Making it stop, however, can prove tricky!

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