My training philosophy with my dogs is to do two things. One to establish basic good manners with obedience training and training for the Pet Assisted Therapy work they do, and second to expose my dogs to canine sport opportunities to see which one they like. It is not that different than what we do with our human children. We make sure they get exposed to various sports, arts, music and other things they may be interested in. Then we support them to grow and learn with the selected interest.
With my dogs it is a bit different than it was with my son. My son was the one involved in actually doing the sport. I supported him from the sidelines. With my dogs I am with them in all aspects of the sport. So for me the sport not only has to resonate with my dogs but with me as well.
When we tried agility it became clear very quickly that I could not keep up with my dogs mentally. They were moving faster than I could think to direct them. This is the universal challenge for this sport. I still took both dogs through basic agility classes to get the fundamentals of the sport behaviors. I transfer a lot of the behaviors learned in agility to other experiences like the therapy work we do. If a child has to develop muscle strength and does obstacle courses like a tunnel my dogs can also run through the tunnel as the child directs them. This is often a reward for the child after he or she has run the tunnel. Everyone benefits.
When we found the sport of K9 Nose work we all knew we had found the sport for us. This sport is one any human and any dog can do. It doesn't really matter the age of the dog or the human. The sport is friendly to all. We even have a dog who is blind in our class. I think what I enjoy most about the sport is the opportunity for the dog to totally develop their instinctive skill of smell. In obedience training we are telling them not to sniff and to be polite. In Nose work they get a chance to be a dog and develop the natural gift of sniffing and smelling that they do so well and enjoy so much. The other thing i like about the sport it that it is only you and your dog. No one else is in the search area with you other than the instructor in the class or the judge if you are competing. And even in competition it is only you and your dog. That is how the sport works. Other dog teams compete but you are never with them in the search area. You are only aware of what you are doing with your dog. It really is a fun sport for both of us. I have yet to see a dog who does NOT like the sport.
Having said all this I know people who feel the same way about agility as I do about K9 Nose work. That is why it is so important to go on an adventure with your dog and find a sport that resonates with both of you.
There are so many sports to pick from I am listing some sport categories that might interest you. Herding Sports, Hunting & Tracking, Obedience, Protection, Racing, Water, Mushing and other sports. If any of these categories peak your interest there are a number of sports to pick from in each category. Explore and you might find one that fits your lifestyle and your relationship with your dog.
if you aren't inclined toward sports there are service opportunities like therapy work. Getting out of the house with your dog and going to a class to learn how to have even more fun together is an awesome experience for both of you. It gives your dog a job and a purpose...something he/she will look forward to. It gives you both time together which builds your bond and strengthens your relationship. You will get to know more about each other and have fun doing it.
So set out on a canine sport adventure with your dog. He will love you for it!