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Lure Coursing & Fast CAT

Lure Coursing is perhaps one of the easiest sports to participate in with your dog. It requires minimal training, and instead it is fueled by your dog's instinct to chase prey. If your dog has a high prey drive and has the stamina to run, it may love lure coursing!

The AKC sanctions lure coursing events all over the country. People drive from all over to attend, and it can be a lot of fun for both dog and owner. In this event, dogs chase a mechanized, white plastic lure around a 600+ yard course that simulates the unpredictability of chasing live prey. Zig-zagging across a big, open field is simply heaven for these dogs! At the same time, it helps improve their focus, agility and sportsmanship. Until you’ve actually seen it in action, it’s hard to imagine the complete and utter joy on your dog’s face as he runs the course, following the lure from start to finish. These runs can be solo or they can be done with other eligible dogs.

There are some restrictions to be aware of, however. There is a list of breeds that are permitted to compete at these events, and there are restrictions against both cryptorchid males (intact males who have one or both testicles undescended) and bitches who are in heat (yes, they check). Also, any dog with an apparent injury will not be permitted to run. Also, any dog that is entered must be at least 12 months of age (except for events that are allowing shorter puppy "fun runs"). Spayed and neutered dogs ARE eligible to compete!

Of the AKC recognized breeds, those that are permitted to compete are:

  • Afghan Hound

  • Azawakh

  • Basenji

  • Borzoi

  • Cirneco dell’Etna

  • Greyhound

  • Ibizan Hound

  • Irish Wolfhound

  • Italian Greyhound

  • Pharaoh Hound

  • Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • Saluki

  • Scottish Deerhound

  • Sloughi

  • Whippet

  • Norrbottenspets

  • Peruvian Inca Orchid

  • Portuguese Podengo (Medio & Grande)

  • Thai Ridgeback

If your dog is not on the above list, it may still be able to lure course! Contact the entry liaison for the event you would like to attend and simply ask if they are allowing "fun runs" for dogs who are not eligible for AKC Lure Coursing titles. Many events provide this option just for the fun of the dog and it's owner!

If you do decide to give Lure Coursing a shot, be sure to condition your dog first. If you take a dog that has not been able to build the muscles needed for chasing prey, and if they have not had the opportunity to run 600+ yards in open fields so they can develop their breathing capabilities necessary to keep them from collapsing, then the possibility of severe injury is much greater.

Fast CAT

If Lure Coursing sounds fun but your dog isn't permitted to compete due to its breed, or if you want something slightly less daunting, consider Fast CAT! It is the more accessible of the two for beginners, and often has a more laid back environment with owners being much more social in my experience. And ALL BREEDS are eligible to compete in Fast CAT, even mixed breeds!! Fast CAT is a timed straight 100-yard dash where dogs run one at a time, chasing a lure. It’s over before you know it, but oh so fun! Each dog can run up to two times per day of the event, and most events are 2 days, so you can enter your dog for a single run, or (if going both days) you could enter your dog for 4! Points and titles are awarded.

Again, it is important to have a conditioned dog. If you decide to attend a Fast CAT event, you are likely to see dogs of all conditions (from remarkably fit to noticeably obese). But while a dog of most physical conditions CAN do Fast CAT, not all should. If your dog has not been properly conditioned with regular exercise, your chance of incident is far higher than it otherwise would be. For the dog's safety, it should be physically fit and not obese, but especially so if competing in Fast CAT or Lure Coursing.

Both Lure Coursing and Fast CAT events can be found in the AKC Event Search under the Performance Events tab. The results page will list each event from the category you selected, and in the area range you entered (you can search by state, for example). Entry information will be attached to each Event listing. Runs typically range in cost from $15-$35, and prices are usually set by the local club that is hosting or sponsoring the event.

Below is a screengrab of an Event listing for Sunday June 2nd of this year so you can see what they will look like.

You'll not only see the date of the event, but you will see what organization is running the event (Carolina Scent Work Association), where it is located (King, NC), when you can early enter (in this example, March 1st), the latest you can early enter (March 22nd), the entry fee ($25), who is eligible (all AKC-Recognized Breeds), and you are provided with a link to the entry information and more event details (Premium List).

Below is a screengrab of the first page of the Premium List from the above Event listing. You'll have all the details here. All the dates, who to contact and how in case you have any issues, when to arrive, when the fun runs will be, and the rules and fees associated with same-day entry. It can feel daunting seeing all of this information for the first time, but I promise its way more simple than you might be thinking!

I sincerely hope this inspires at least a few of you to try out this remarkably easy and super fun sport with your dogs! The people in attendance are typically extremely friendly and are all very willing to help newcomers learn the ropes. The dogs may be running individually, but all of the humans are pretty much on the same team and want to see everyone - canine and human alike - have a blast and be safe!

And if all of this wasn't awesome enough, most Fast CAT events have a professional photographer taking amazing photos like what you see in this article of mine and my friends' dogs!

Pro-tip: you can go alone with your dog, but it is much easier to take a friend with you. Otherwise, someone else in attendance will have to help you with your dog's run. This is because one person will release the dog, and the other person will receive the dog at the other end of the 100-yard running lane. It isn't usually difficult to find a volunteer to help you out if you have a friendly dog, but if you're like me at all you'd rather share that moment with a friend or family member!

Fast CAT has gotten so popular, it has even been televised on ESPN!



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