Lure Coursing for Fun

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If you’re looking for a class that offers your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise, then look no further than Lure Coursing. This is a sporting event that allows your dog to use her prey drive in a safe, controlled environment. Lure coursing for fun is a great way for you and your dog to have fun together.  Lure coursing provides your dog with great physical and mental stimulation.

Whether your dog is naturally bred to chase or they have a case of the zoomies (when your dog runs around like a maniac for no apparent reason), luring is a great way to burn off extra energy and give your dog the daily exercise she needs. This article will help you learn more about the sport and its benefits for your dog.

What is Lure Coursing?

An artificial lure is made to zig-zag across hundreds of yards of open field to simulate active prey. The dogs chase the lure while making agile turns to follow the pattern.

But why should you and your pup get involved in lure coursing? Well, a dog with a high prey drive will love lure coursing and the thrill of the chase, and it can help with their agility and focus.

Lure Coursing began as a sport only for sighthounds. Sighthounds were bred to chase prey at extremely fast speeds. Competitors created a motorized line to pull a lure around a course while the dogs chased after the lure. For a very long time, only sighthounds were allowed to compete in this sport.

Pharoah Hounds running in Lure Coursing - Lure coursing for fun.
Pharoah Hounds running in Lure course

Eventually, owners of other dog breeds began showing up at practices and were allowed to run for fun. The American Kennel Club (AKC) created coursing ability tests so that other breeds and mixes were allowed to compete for titles also.

Lure coursing was developed in the early 70s by Lyle Gillette and other California sighthound fanciers. The sighthound owners originally used to have their dogs chase rabbits and other small prey in open fields. However, sometimes the dogs would run into barbed wire and other items that caused injuries. In the interest of safety for their dogs, they developed a safer and more controlled sport for sighthounds that simulates the pursuit of prey in the open field. In lure coursing, hounds chased plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate the escaping prey.

Lure Coursing History

Sighthounds are dogs that traditionally hunt by sight rather than tracking game by scent. sighthound breeds have a long history of being bred primarily to detect movement, chase, and capture prey.

Sighthounds generally have no need to be trained to chase the lure since the desire to chase is instinctual. Some sighthounds, however, may require lure play at a very early age to encourage them to follow an artificial object with enthusiasm.

For hounds, there are two different lure coursing tests, Junior Courser (JC), which tests a hound’s prey drive, and Qualified Courser (QC) which tests a hound’s ability to compete with other hounds safely. To compete in AKC trials, hounds must be at least one year old and have passed the Qualified Courser Test.

More recently, the American Kennel Club introduced the Coursing Ability Test (CATs) available to all breeds and mixed breeds. From Yorkies to Mastiffs, many dogs enjoy chasing. CATs have become a popular event in Southern California and many other locations.

Which Dog Breeds can Do Lure Coursing?

This sport originally began as a sport for sighthounds. However, now any dog can compete or just participate in lure coursing for fun. All dogs may compete in this sport. However, if your dog has no interest in chasing a lure or a toy around a track it would be better for you to look for another sport. There are plenty of sports that you and your dog can compete in or just enjoy for fun.

Shiba Inu running in lure course. Lure coursing for fun
Shiba Inu running in a lure course.

Puppies under 1 year and older dogs should be examined by a veterinarian before competing. Even lure coursing for fun can be too much for some puppies as their bones and joints have not completely developed yet. See your veterinarian get advice on starting your dog in lure coursing.

Getting Started in Lure Coursing for Fun

If you’re looking for a new way to have some fun and get in some great exercise with your dog you should consider lure coursing. Any dog that’s in good physical condition and loves to chase or displays an interest in chasing prey drive is perfect for the sport – it’s not just for sighthounds anymore.

You can join a local club and let your dog compete recreationally. You can also build your own lure course in your backyard. This way you can practice lure coursing with your dog and try training her yourself. You will need some equipment once you start in lure coursing. However, don’t run out and buy anything until you’re sure this sport is right for you and your dog.

Handler Responsibilities

There aren’t many physical requirements for the handler in coursing. You must be able to hold your dog back at the start to avoid them from breaking away early. You must also have a reliable recall so you can call your dog back after the finish.

Be sure you clean up after your dog when competing in events. Take your dog out for a walk to reduce the chance of eliminating on the field.

How do I Set Up a Lure Course to Train my Dog?

build your own lure coursing machine so you can get started with your dog’s training. This is a cheaper way, but you can also buy lure coursing machines if you’re not into DIY.

Get Your Dog Interested in Lure Coursing

Find out if your dog is interested in lure coursing before investing much money into it. . The cheapest way to test her interest is with a flirt pole.

One easy way to do this is to create a very basic DIY lure coursing lure (see videos below). All you need is a lightweight toy and fishing line. You could even substitute a plastic bag for the toy.

Tie the toy or the bag to the fishing line, and command your dog to stay at one end of your “course”. Place the toy or bag on the ground in front of them, and then release the fishing line a little at a time till you get to the other end of the course. Now pull the fishing line in various directions, over or around obstacles, and so on, till your dog catches the lure or you capture it on your end. You should let your dog win occasionally to keep them interested in the activity.

Try putting some food inside the plastic bag, or use her favorite squeaky toy as the lure to get your dog more interested in participating. Be sure to choose a consistent vocal command for when you want the dog to start chasing. “Get it” or “chase”, for example, are two common commands.

Make Your Own DIY Lure Coursing Machine

The video below shows another similar method of making a lure coursing machine that included turning ability. This video also shows a demo.

Be Sure Your Dog is in Good Health Before Starting Lure Coursing

Lure coursing is a demanding sport whether you’re doing it officially or for recreation. All of the sharp turns put a lot of pressure on your dog’s joints – the more fit (thinner) the dog is, to begin with, the less pressure the abrupt turns create. This is why as mentioned above dogs under 1 year of age are not often permitted to compete.

Dogs with short noses must be watched carefully for signs of overheating. These dogs are known as the brachycephalic breeds and include breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and others.

Safety Precautions

There is always a risk of injury involved during a coursing event. The risk for your dog involves running at high speeds and taking sharp turns. This is both exhilarating and highly demanding on your dog.

Be sure you are aware of your dog’s physical capabilities and be attentive to her condition before and after an event. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s physical condition or weight. Running an overweight dog increases the risk of extra joint and muscle strain.

Basenjis running in Lure Course
Basenjis running in Lure Course

Be sure to keep your dog’s nails cut short as toenail injuries are common when dogs are racing. Keep them short enough so that they don’t touch the floor when they’re standing on a flat surface.

Cover your dog’s dewclaws (if she has them) with “Vetrap” which is a bandaging material that you can use to avoid the dewclaws getting stuck in the lure. The wrapping should be done shortly before their run and taken off right after.

Feed your dog half of their normal morning meal on the day of an event to avoid the extra risk of gastric torsion (bloat) and don’t feed them immediately after a run. Wait for an hour or two after the run to feed her.

Take your dog for a nice cool down walk after she. Walk her around for about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace to help avoid muscle cramps. Observe your dog’s gait and feet to check for any abnormalities or injuries. Water your dog down with water on her chest, thighs, and feet if the weather is hot.

After her breathing has slowed down allow her to drink plenty of water.

Lure Coursing Can be Great Fun

The great thing about lure coursing is it usually doesn’t require much training. Many dogs will start chasing as soon as they see a moving object. Some dogs might require coaxing with treats or a toy but they’ll soon catch on and follow along with great enthusiasm.

If your dog displays any prey drive they’ll most likely love this sport. Find yourself a local lure course club and check it out for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Lure coursing is a fun sport that really doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. Lure coursing training is usually minimal since most dogs naturally want to chase a moving object – this is especially true of dogs that have a high prey drive.

Find out if there are any lure coursing clubs near you if you think this sport sounds like something you and your dog would enjoy.

If it turns out not to be for you, you can walk away at least knowing you gave it a try and find another sport more suited to your dog’s and your interests. This is why it’s important to invest as little money as possible in purchasing equipment.

Have you tried lure coursing with your dog? Are you still participating? If so, what do you and your dog love about the sport? If not, what didn’t you like?

Have you gone to a lure coursing event as a spectator? What do you like or dislike about Lure Coursing?

Please leave a comment! Thank you for your interest!

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