By Sara Lopez and Megan Cooper
Want to learn something new with your dog and have loads of fun? There are many activities that will challenge you both and help build a stronger bond between you and your best friend. Make 2017 the year! Here are a just a few activities to get you started.


Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC Obedience trials allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles. (

Titles include: Companion Dog(CD), Companion Dog Excellent(CDX), Utility Dog(UD), Utility Dog Excellent(UDK), and Obedience Trail Champion(OTCH).

Optional titles include: Beginner Novice (BN), Graduate Novice(GN), Graduate Open (GO)

For those who want to get their feet (and paws) wet in the ring, Beginner Novice is an excellent place to start.
Exercises include: An on leash heel, on leash figure eight, a sit for exam (to the end of a 6ft leash), sit and stay in place while the handler walks the perimeter of the ring, and the only off leash portion being a short recall with no finish.


AKC Rally® is a companion sport to AKC Obedience. It too requires teamwork between dog and handler along with performance skills similar to obedience. Rally provides an excellent introduction to AKC events for new dogs and handlers, and can provide a challenging opportunity for competitors in other events to strengthen their skills. All dogs are eligible to compete in rally. (

Titles include: Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced(RA), Rally Excellent(RE), and Rally Advanced Excellent(RAE)

If Obedience still seems a little scary, not to worry. Rally Novice is a great way to get your confidence boosted! The Rally Novice Course is made up of 10-15 stations or signs with the entire couse being done on leash. In Rally Novice exibitors are allowed to provide words of encouragement and commands, along with clapping their hands or patting their legs to guide their dogs through the course. Each team starts with a score of 100 points and points are deducted for any mistakes made throughout the course. A score of 70 or higher is required to earn 1 qualifying leg, and 3 legs are required to earn a title. Legs must be earned under at least 2 different judges.

Barn Hunt:

Barn Hunt is the new and quickly growing dog sport catching fire across the country! Barn Hunt is based on the traditional roles of many breeds in ridding farms, barns, crop storage areas, and homes of destructive vermin. Some breeds were specifically created to fill this role, and for many of those breeds, Barn Hunt provides their first true opportunity for responsible breeders to test proper working traits in their dogs. Barn Hunt is also open to any dog of any breed or mix who wishes to play the game and can fit through an 18″ wide by bale-height tall tunnel. Barn Hunt has titles, levels of increasing difficulty, and championships. Barn Hunt is an independent sport, but titles are recognized by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC). (

Titles include:

Instinct(RATI), Novice(RATN), Open(RATO), Senior(RATS), Master(RATM), Rat Champion(RATCH), and Rat Champion Excellent(RATCHX)

If you want to jump right into it and skip Instinct(which you are allowed to do), Novice is the place to start! After the judge tells you to release your dog, in the fenced in Novice course, the time starts. The dog has 2 minutes to climb and put all four feet on a bale of hay, go through a tunnel, and find 1 Rat. The handler must clearly call “RAT” when they believe their dog has indicated that they found a live Rat in one of the 3 hidden tubes. You must do this 3 times in order to receive the title.
For more a in depth explanation on the rules and regulations of Barn Hunt please visit the Barn Hunt Association website at
Here’s to a new year, with hopefully some new titles to go with it! Have fun and happy training!