Lure-Coursing Could Be Your Sighthounds sport!
Lure Coursing is a sport that was specifically created for the "runners" of the dog world.
Izzy, my mini dachshund is a "runner!" But not the typical Sighthound kind, Izzy is a Scenthound, shhhh....don't tell her. I entered Izzy into a non-competitive lure coursing competition at a local dog festival. Her performance was outstanding and the crowd couldn't get enough of watching her little legs run so fast and jumping the hurdles trying to "capture" the plastic bag. Izzy was asked to participate in the lure coursing a couple of times because she was a true "crowd pleaser!"
What Is Lure Coursing?
Dogs are racing a course chasing after a mechanical mechanism, like a white plastic bag or a strip of rabbit fur.
The course can be 600 to 1000 yards long, may have obstacles to avoid, and hurdles to jump. The course is required to have a minimum number of curves and turns to simulate prey changing direction during the chase.
Courses can be dangerous and must be checked for holes and other obstacles not set up by the organization. Sighthounds zone in on the lure so much they will not pay attention to anything else in the field.
Who Holds the Lure Coursing Competitions?
Competitions are held in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
There are two major organizations: American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA).
Both organizations offer competitions and titles. The ASFA is considered a more difficult organization to participate in because their earning points are much higher then the AKC. Dogs are judged on 5 different categories and each category is assigned a maximum number of points, a dog can earn up to that number of points per category.
Other organizations that hold Lure Coursing competitions are: Saluki Club of America (SCA) and Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).
Who Can Participate?
Sighthounds that are AKC recognized can compete in the AKC lure coursing trails. All AKC breeds registered with the AKC's Canine Partners may participate in the course testing. Breeds recognized by the AKC include:
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Hounds registered with approved organizations such as the AKC, National Greyhound Association (NGA), Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) (an ASFA foreign registry), and the Society for the Perpetuation of Desert Bred Salukis are allowed to participate in the American Sighthound Field Association racing.
The CKC only allows registered sighthounds but will not allow the Sloughi, Rhodesian Ridgeback, or the Italian Greyhound.
Dogs must be 1 year old to help prevent injury.
How Do I Train My Dog?
Generally, there is little to no training because a Sighthound instinctively will chase after a lure. If some training is needed, it's best to work with a Sighthound puppy to help build their natural instinct to give chase.
However, the training that will benefit your Sighthound in this competition is making sure they have a strong recall, because some courses are not fenced in. This is a very difficult command for Sighthounds and Scenthounds, because when they enter the "zone" of the chase they lose all other focus, including someone calling them. Practicing and training with dog at an early age is the best way to build this command.
Some Sighthounds are happy to cross the course to "capture" the lure in mid-stream during the race, which is referred to as "cheating." Teaching your Sighthound to follow the lure and stay on the course versus taking short-cuts will be important.
How Does the Race Work?
Dogs are put together by breed, and they race against each other (two to three at a time). Two runs take place, the first run is the preliminary, and the second run is called the "finals." Course is reversed in the second run.
Once the two runs are completed, the best of breed is determined for the next run. This is done with scoring to determine which dog moves to the next level to determine "Best of Breed." Once this is complete, all breeds compete against each other in what is called "Best in Field."
Scoring is based off of five categories (each organization has different numerical scoring and categories):
ASFA: Speed, Agility, Endurance, Enthusiasm, and Follow (pursuing the lure, not the other dogs)
AKC: Ability, Speed, Agility, Endurance, and Follow (pursuing the lure, not the other dogs)
FCI: Speed, Enthusiasm, Agility, Endurance, and Intelligence
Penalties and dismissal can occur if a hound was released early, failed to run, was unfit, another hound interfered with another hound, the handler interfered, or there was a "start" delay. Disqualification may occur if a hound is the aggressor in a fight while on the field, as well.
Do you have a Sighthound? Do you want to utilize their natural instinct to chase? Lure Coursing is a fun competitive sport that is safe for all!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition, by Kristin Mehus-Roe