Do you compete in dog sports? If you do, you know how addictive it becomes once you start to see a deeper relationship with your dog. He stops being that hairy family member who eats all your food and sheds on your couch to being a partner with whom you have an unimaginable (until now) communication. Once you start in dog sports, you find your life has changed for the better (although your wallet is thinner). You make new friends. You travel more. Your entire social circle and your idea of a fun weekend suddenly change.

My dogs have taken me places I would never have been, made memories that I cherish, and most importantly, made friends that I would never have had otherwise. Puppy Toke is the seventh Golden Retriever I have trained for obedience competition, although not all of my dogs have made it to the ring. Regardless, training them is always rewarding, and it warms my heart the first time I see that light bulb go on, that “Oh! That’s what you want!” look in their eyes. From there, the possibilities of what we can do together are endless.

I got started in obedience training the same as many people; I had a young Golden Retriever who yanked my arm off during walks. It was suggested that I take classes from Companion Dog Training School, which teaches pet classes and competitive obedience classes. I signed up with Taylor and was hooked. 27 years and 7 dogs later, I still look forward to my weekly classes and the occasional dog show. I asked on a training forum why other people train and compete with their dogs. The biggest reason I have heard many times is that it’s cheaper than showing horses! One handler said what so many of us feel, that it gives us a goal with our dogs and creates a stronger bond than almost any other activity we train for. The ribbons are just icing on the brownie, the training journey is the fun! Many people expressed that they like to have fun with their dogs and give them an enriched environment. Those of us who have been in dog sports for more than a decade will tell you that we enjoy the social aspect and the friends we have made through the years. We do make the best friends through dog sports!

Have you thought of training your dog? There are all kinds of sports to enjoy. Obedience, Rally, Agility, Barn Hunt, Scent Work, Tracking, Herding, Field Trials, Dock Diving…….. the list goes on. We are lucky to live in an area that loves their dogs and has a lot of talented trainers to help us get started. Give it a try!

– Susan M. Young is a long-standing Asheville, NC Real Estate Broker and has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 27 years. She can be reached through her website at

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