Dog agility needs little explanation, but there is a new trend within canine sports that is becoming increasingly popular and this year, for the first time ever, Hoopers was featured in the main ring at Crufts.

Hoopers first appeared in the USA under NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council). Its popularity spread to Europe (primarily Switzerland and Norway), and now has reached the UK. This year has seen the formation of Canine Hoopers UK (CHUK), our own UK body for rules and regulations. This has facilitated a packed calendar of shows and competitions across the UK throughout 2018.

Unlike agility, Hoopers has no jumps. Instead, ground-level hoops are used for the dog to run through. It has the same pace and excitement as agility, but the courses are flowing and don’t involve the tight turns of agility, making it safer for dogs. There are no jumps or high impact equipment: just hoops, barrels and tunnels – not only making injury less likely, but also making it cheaper and more accessible for pet dog owners to partake and practice at home.

Hoopers is a low-impact sport suitable for all age dogs, including puppies and older dogs. Retired ex-agility dogs can return to dog sports through Hoopers. It’s not just ability dogs that this sport caters for: unlike agility, where you run the course with your dog, the long-term goal of Hoopers is to distance-handle everything. This means the owner stands still as the dog is directed around the course, through hand signals and verbal cues. This makes it an exciting, fast-paced dog sport that is accessible to owners with restricted mobility.

Points are scored in competition by managing to direct the dog through the elements of the course from a ‘handling’ box, staying within zones or remaining in one dedicated spot whilst your dog completes the full course.

What I love about Hoopers is that it really is so accessible. The equipment is cheap, you can even make it yourself, and it really is a sport that relies on building and developing the bond between the owner and dog

Gerry Moss, at Jay K9 based at The Willow Tree Canine Daycare – finalists in this years Pet Industry Federation Awards (PIFA) – was one of the first in the UK to become an accredited CHUK instructor.

“What I love about Hoopers is that it really is so accessible. The equipment is cheap, you can even make it yourself, and it really is a sport that relies on building and developing the bond between the owner and dog,” he said.

Jay K9 offers Hoopers classes from complete beginner level, at their training and behaviour centre based just outside Biggleswade. Contact them directly to find out further info and to introduce your dog to this fun sport on Facebook or through their website.

This is a guest essay. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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