What is Canine Hoopers and how can it help your dog?

Canine Hoopers

Have you tried Canine Hoopers?

It’s a new dog sport for dogs and their owners and it’s been sweeping the nation for the last 18 months.

If you’re a regular reader you will know we love trying out new activities with Patch so we’ve been dying to have a go at Hoopers.

The sport originated in America then spread to Europe and reached the UK in 2018.

Classes and competitions have been popping up all over the country since – even at this year’s Crufts.

It’s a sport all dogs can take part in whether they’re puppies or senior dogs as there is no impact so it’s kind to joints.

And it helps reactive and anxious dogs too.

We went along to Dogwood Adventure Play in Stockton-On-Tees near our home in the North East and had a taster Hoopers class.

Owner Katie Guastapaglia showed us round the different challenges with Patch and we chatted to her to find out more about the sport.

Canine Hoopers instructor Katie
Canine Hoopers Instructor Katie Guastapaglia from Dogwood

What is Canine Hoopers?

Hoopers is a fun dog sport that’s ideal for dogs and owners of all ages and fitness levels.

Dogs navigate a course of hoops, barrels and tunnels with the same pace and excitement as agility.

But the courses are flowing and don’t involve tight turns – making it accessible for everyone!

Hoopers is focused on the ability of dog and owner to work together as a smooth-flowing team so it’s a great bonding activity too.

How do dogs take part in Canine Hoopers?

The best place to begin is by finding a qualified instructor.

I recommend Canine Hoopers World instructors as they have undergone thorough training with a Hoopers expert.

Usually they’re group classes but some instructors like myself run 1-1 sessions too.

Find your nearest instructor here:

www.caninehoopersworld.com/find-an-instructor

Dog trying Canine Hoopers
Patch deep in concentration at a Canine Hoopers taster class © Ten77 Dog Photography

What is the benefit of Canine Hoopers?

Where to begin? Ok, let’s start with the benefits for the dogs themselves.

In Hoopers dogs are working away from us so it helps create confidence and independence.

It’s also good for dogs that tend to bulldoze around because although they’re moving at speed, they have to be very conscious of what’s around them.

So it’s good for proprioception – it helps dogs to be aware of where they’re putting their feet and bodies.

There are also lots of benefits for us owners.

In Hoopers dogs are focusing on targets so we can easily turn that focus back on us, giving us greater control from a distance.

Oh yes, and it’s a lot of fun!

What kind of dogs is it ideal for?

I honestly believe that most dogs could benefit from Hoopers.

It creates confidence so it’s beneficial for nervous dogs.

It’s perfect for high-energy dogs too as it channels their focus – and of course it’s a great energy burner too.

Older dogs can join the fun as it puts less strain on their joints than agility and for that same reason dogs as young as eight months can take part.

That’s because unlike agility, Hoopers has no jumps. Instead, dogs navigate a ground-level course of hoops, barrels and tunnels.

The equipment ensures dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds can participate without having to take sharp turns or bend down for tunnels or hoops.

Hoopers is brilliant because it doesn’t exclude any dog or person!

Canine Hoopers Class
Katie with her Canine Hoopers group

Is there anything in particular about Canine Hoopers that dogs enjoy?

Dogs find it exhilarating! They love running and letting off steam around the course. Hoopers is a great bonding activity between dog and owner.

You can really see the happiness on their faces when their owners cheer them at the end of the course.

What equipment do you need for Canine Hoopers?

All you need are hoops, barrels and a tunnel.

The hoops themselves can be bought online for around £12 each or you can make them from standard hula-hoops and plastic pipe.

I’ve known people stick the two ends of the hula-hoop into a plant pot so they could get started at home straight away!

The tunnels we use in Hoopers are wider than those in agility and I’m yet to find a low-cost option that I can recommend to dog owners.

The easiest part of the Hoopers course to recreate in the garden are the barrels. 175L is the correct ‘competition size’ but you can buy pop up garden waste barrels for under a fiver from B&Q or The Range.

Start with one then add a second one. With four you can get really creative!

Dog taking part in Canine Hoopers
You can get your own tunnels and enjoy Canine Hoopers at home © Ten77 Dog Photography

Can you do Canine Hoopers at home?

Once you’ve learned the basics you can definitely do it at home. You could work on the hoops or barrels by themselves or even set up a small course in your garden.

Hoopers equipment doesn’t take up much space so it can be stored away in a garage or shed.

What made you decide to be a Canine Hoopers instructor? 

I’d been aware of Hoopers for some time but didn’t really give it a lot of thought until Carrie-Anne Selwyn the founder of Canine Hoopers World mentioned how Hoopers helped her own anxious dog.

I run Dogwood Adventure Play which is a secure field in the North East.

A lot of our clients use Dogwood because they have nervous or reactive dogs and so I’m always on the look out for fun activities for them to do together.

As soon as I got back from Instructors course I started making hoops.

My first attempt was pretty rubbish I must admit but then my brother made me a full set that actually stay upright!

Canine Hoopers class
Katie taking one of her Canine Hoopers classes at Dogwood

What kind of feedback have you had?

We want to do more Hoopers!’ is the general response I hear.

People love working as a team with their dog and they get so excited when they see what their dogs are capable of.

I especially love teaching anxious, nervous or reactive dogs who can’t participate in group classes yet.

Often their owners tell me that they’ve always wanted to participate in a fun sport with their dogs and they’ve felt left out.

My goal is to give them the same opportunities to have fun with their dogs as everyone else has. Hoopers is ideal for this!

Canine Hoopers also involves lots of treats = happy Patch © Ten77 Dog Photography

Where can people find out more about Canine Hoopers?

Start your Hoopers journey at Canine Hoopers World website www.caninehoopersworld.comand visit their Facebook page Canine Hoopers World.

For dogs that need more space I run 1-1 Hoopers classes at Dogwood Adventure Play in Stockton-on-Tees and we will be adding group classes in Spring.

Find out about Canine Hoopers at Dogwood: www.dogwoodadventureplay.com/

With thanks to Ten 77 Dog Photography for the photos: www.facebook.com/ten77dogphotography/

About Katie

Katie is a dog trainer and Canine Enrichment Specialist at Dogwood Adventure Play, the North East’s first adventure playground for dogs.

Before Dogwood she spent ten years in rescue, most recently as Campaigns Officer at Dogs Trust Head Office and Darlington where she developed new campaigns for responsible dog ownership.

Katie works hard to improve the lives of the dogs she meets on a weekly basis and believes that reward-based training and enrichment are the keys to a strong and long-lasting relationship.


If you enjoyed this post and like finding out about fun things to do with your dog, you might like to read:

We try out paw-lates – pilates for dogs

Dog running with Milo Royds

Running with your dog – top tips from Lara at Dogfit UK

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