If your dog is trustworthy off leash and has excellent recall, then consider lure coursing! What is it? The American Kennel Club defines it as “system of mechanized lures and pulleys that simulate the unpredictability of chasing live prey.” Now your dog, he just may call it a good time.
Sighthound breeds are a natural for lure coursing. So if your dog is a sighthound (Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Afghan Hound, for example) or sighthound mix, it might be something you both may want to give a try.
Some things your dog should know: good recall skills and focus. Though “focus” isn’t something you necessarily teach with coursing, the sport is really about natural instincts the dog already has, or can be fine tuned. So, that’s not something you necessarily have to teach if she likes chasing small animals already. Note that good recall skills are a must for coursers. Lure coursing events often (if not always) take place in huge field areas, which are usually fenced in (like a pasture or fairgrounds). But the “fencing” might also be a row of trees or a forested area, not an actual “fence.” Plus there’s always the idea of your dog running the OPPOSITE way from the lure and visiting with all of the spectators instead.
After your run, the course typically winds itself back to where you started from, but once the lure stops at the end, there is nothing else for the dog to do. And like I mentioned before, these take place in huge open fields. So if your dog doesn’t have a good recall and you go to collect her after a run and she takes off … well there’s a problem. Plus, you may get penalized for holding up the trial to get your dog.
Generally there’s no need for obedience waiting for the lure to start, you actually want to amp the dog up and have them almost bursting out of your arms or out of their leash to go after the lure. But once the course is over it would be nice if your dog came right to you or reacted when you say “come.”
A great introductory event put on by the AKC is the Coursing Ability Test. It’s a simple pass or fail, so don’t get too nervous at the word “test.” It’s also non-competitive. During a given time, your dog must run alone pursuing a lure enthusiastically and without interruption. Luring is fun for both dogs and dog parents, so go ahead and give it a run!