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Ready! The Thrill of the Lure

Posted by Christina Potter on

Lure coursing is as exciting for your canine companion to participate in, as it is for you to watch.This sport requires a dog be off leash and chase a mechanically operated lure, which is normally a set of three plastic bags tied onto a thick string.The lure will twist and turn, and will go just fast enough that the dog closest to it doesn’t catch it.The course consists of a number of turns to simulate the running style of a rabbit and, therefore, tap into a dog’s natural prey drive.Courses are generally not fenced in, but the dog will usually focus on the lure and not run away.In the United States, these courses are between 600 and 1,000 yards in length.They will start and end at the same point, in order to get the dog back to its handler.


Any healthy dog can compete in lure coursing events, provided they have the drive to do so.Sight hounds have a natural instinct to course fast moving objects and generally only need to watch more seasoned dogs in order to “learn” the game.There are many other breeds with the prey drive required to chase a lure.Some breeds, however, will need to be trained or encouraged to chase a lure.Depending on the organization and level of competition, your dog may run alone or with a group of other dogs.If running with other dogs, muzzles may be worn to keep them from fighting, in case one should redirect its prey drive to a fellow competitor.


There are two main organizations that specialize in lure coursing competitions in the U.S.; the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC).In order to compete in an ASFA trial, your dog must be a Sighthound.That is, he must be an Afghan Hound, Azawakh, Basenji, Borzoi, Cirneco dell'Etna, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Silken, Windhound, Scottish Deerhound, Sloughi or Whippet.AKC lure coursing is also limited to Sighthounds, but they do offer alternative events open to all breeds.These events, the Coursing Ability Test (CAT) and the Fast CAT, have different rules than regular lure coursing.


The hard, fast turns that accompany chasing a lure can be tough on a dog’s joints, so care must be taken to ensure that your dog is in top shape before competing.As with any organized sport, there are certain requirements and qualifications that must be met before participating.It is important you familiarize yourself with them.If this sport appeals to you and you think Rover might enjoy it, I suggest you find a dog club that can advise you on the best ways to condition and train your dog.They will also be able to guide you through the process of entering and competing in a lure coursing event.


If you enjoy Christina's writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and "Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.