Rabbits, squirrels, the mail man… most dogs have a natural prey drive that makes them instinctively want to chase anything that moves. If you have such a dog and are looking for a fun activity where they can put those skills to use then you need to look into Lure Coursing.
What is Lure Coursing –
Lure Coursing is a very simple, but fun venue. It requires little training, though a good recall is very important because your dog will be off leash and sometimes won’t be wearing a collar. It is also important that your dog be physically fit and healthy before competing in lure coursing because they’ll be running a minimum of 300 or 600 yards in less than two minutes. This is an athletic activity that can be very taxing on a dog. You wouldn’t enter yourself in a 5K without first working up to that distance so don’t put your dog at risk of injuring themselves when they’re not fit and healthy enough for a long run.
How it Works –
Lure Coursing takes place in a big open area, like a mowed field, and pulleys are placed into the ground all around the area forming the start of a pattern for the course that the dog will run. A wire is then wrapped around the pulleys and completes the pattern that the dog will run. Some courses resemble a big ‘O’ type pattern while others look like a big ‘&’ symbol. Plastic shopping bags are then tied to the wire and are the Lure in which your dog will be chasing. Yes, as strange as it sounds, your dog will be going nuts over pursuing something as simple as a plastic bag! The wire will be pulled around the pulleys by a motor and is controlled by a person called the lure operator whose job is to speed up or slow down the lure depending on how fast the dog is keeping up with it. Also on the field with you and your dog will be the judge who will determine if your dog should receive a pass or fail on the course depending on how they ran it.
Lure Coursing vs Coursing Ability Test –
In AKC there are two types of lure coursing events – Lure Coursing and Coursing Ability Tests (CAT). Each require the dog to be at least 12 months old, and before running a course the dog will be inspected to make sure it isn’t lame or in season, and to make sure they’re fit. Dogs can wear a plain flat buckle collar, but they cannot have anything dangling from it (such as name tags) that could get caught on the lure equipment. A start and finish line will be clearly marked on the field and once your dog is ready to run, the lure will be started and the judge will shout “Tally Ho!” to signal you to release your dog. The dog must complete the course with enthusiasm and under the time limit in order to receive a pass.
Lure Coursing events are strictly for Sight Hound breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and several others. Depending on the event, these breeds will sometimes run together on the course. The dogs wear a brightly colored vest to tell them apart on the course. More info can be found here on the AKC website – Getting Started in Lure Coursing
Coursing Ability Tests (CAT) are open to any dog, even mix breeds, and they run the course on their own, never with another dog. For each course they pass they earn an orange ribbon. Once they pass their third course they earn their title, and every additional pass they receive counts towards further titles. The size and breed of your dog determines how big of a course they’ll run. Small dogs and breeds that are “flat faced” (like Pugs) will run approximately 300 yards and do so in less than 1min 30secs. Large dogs and those not “flat face” will run approximately 600 yards in 2-minutes or less.
Fun Runs –
If licensed events aren’t your thing or if you simply want to experience what lure coursing has to offer, you need to check out the fun runs put on by the Akron Canton Terrier Club. ACTC sets up a short, but super fun lure course at several local dog events and shows in the north east Ohio area every year and charges a small fee for your dog to run. ACTC is especially good at helping you and your dog get started in the world of lure coursing because they take the time to get your dog interested in the lure and let you get the feel of letting your dog run free. They don’t have a website, but you can keep up to date with them on where they’ll be set up at by visiting the Akron Canton Terrier Club facebook page.
Depending on how crazy your dog is for Lure Coursing, you can also buy mini lure coursing machines to use in your yard, but these can cost a few hundred dollars.
Everyone can benefit from a good run, just ask the mailmen, and lure coursing is one of many fun venues for you to try with your dog. For more info on events in your area go to www.akc.org.