Border Terriers are a very versatile breed so the sky is the limit. Here are a list of AKC activities you can do with your new buddy.


You’ve read about the beginnings of Border Terriers. Hard to believe the generations of old timers still live on in your little brown bundle of joy, isn’t it? Well, believe it!! Borders are the most natural, unaltered terrier in the line-up, and their hunting instincts are keen. Underneath that unassuming exterior beats the heart of a working terrier of a century ago.

Along with a new devotion to dogs in the United States has come an event made for Border Terriers; The Earthdog Test or Den Trial. These events are held all over the country and are sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, the American Working Terrier Association, and various working terrier clubs. No experience is necessary and a friendly, helpful atmosphere is the name of the game. Don’t worry, your Border will quickly figure out what to do!!!!

These tests range from a simple artificial wooden tunnel, 10 feet in length and a generous 9 inches square, to fabulously complex super earths just for fun. At the end of the tunnel is the Border’s modern adversary. No longer does the Border have to risk his life head-on with a fox as his ancestors did—he can bark and carry on in complete safety facing a couple of tame laboratory rats in a secure cage. Most come to see the earthdog trials as the highlight of their lives.


Although many Borders may not be seen out in public in daily life and are little known to the general public, a large proportion are shown in conformation shows. If you look at a judging program, you will be likely to find them well represented in the terrier ring. A random check of shows within one month came up with Borders as the 3rd most numerous terrier in the show ring! This may be because Borders have traditionally been owner-handled, and most exhibitors prefer it that way. Since more people can show them, more Borders are shown.

Although there is a knack to the grooming, it can be mastered fairly easily. Most breeders are happy to help. A worthy dog can earn its championship even with an inexperienced handler at the other end of the lead. Handling lessons are recommended, however — check your local all-breed kennel club.

This is not a flashy breed and therefore not as likely to do well at the group level, although there have been some notable exceptions. Borders are shown correctly on a loose lead. Traditionally, terrier handlers walk, rather than run, in the show ring.



Warning – Agility can be addicting!!! They ought to put this warning at all agility classes and all agility shows. Because its true, this is the ultimate fun sport with your Border Terrier.

Agility began in England in 1978 as an interlude between the completion of the obedience competition and the beginning of the best of breed at Crufts. It instantly became a hit, with both the audience and the participants. Agility first came to the U.S. in 1986, and its growth has been nothing short of explosive. Among the organizations hosting agility competitions are the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Each organization offers titles and local and national competitions.

In agility, the dog and handler must work as a team and negotiate their way through a course of jumps, tunnels, a wall (called an A-frame), a dog walk (looks like a balance beam), a teeter totter, and other obstacles. They “dance” through the course like a ballroom dance, with the handler being the lead and the dog being her partner.


Obedience competition is one of the earliest Companion events offered by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The first obedience ‘test’ was devised by Helen Whitehouse Walker in Mt. Cisco, NY, in 1933. The first AKC licensed trial was held in 1936. In that year, 200 dogs were entered in 18 trials. The first Border Terrier to earn an AKC obedience title was Mrs. Anthony Cerasale’s Philabeg Duchess, who earned a CD in 1953. The first CDX was awarded in 1965 to CH Cinjola Toluidine Daisy, owned by Francis and Maxine Hoyne. The first UD was awarded in 1972 to CH Chief of Lothian, who also earned a TD (Tracking Dog title), becoming the first BT to be awarded a UDT. He was owned by Nancy Hughes. The first OTCH was awarded in 1978 to Pete, owned by Floyd Timmons.

As quoted from the AKC Obedience Regulations, “The basic objective of obedience trials is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions.” The AKC obedience judge carries a mental picture of the perfect performance for each exercise and judges each team against this standard. Not only must the dog and handler comply with the regulations, but the dog must display the utmost of willingness, enjoyment and precision combined with naturalness, gentleness and smoothness on the part of the handler. (CH. 2: Section 2. AKC Obedience Regulations.)


Rally is a sport that Border Terriers love! In Rally the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 – 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience; that’s the best thing!

In Rally you and your Border Terrier maneuver the course at a brisk pace. Though the dogs have to be under your control, this control is within a two foot area at the handler’s left side. Perfect “heel position” is not required so Border Terriers can “select” their own heel position. If you’ve ever trained a terrier for obedience competition you know that many like to do the exercises their own way.


Border Terriers love to track. With their excellent sense of smell, combined with high prey drive and desire to get the game, be it a fox, otter, rat or tracking article, they are naturals for the sport of tracking. Handlers too must be as determined as their dogs since tracking tests are held on all types of terrain in all weather conditions. Dogs and handlers develop a very special partnership, seeming to be able to read one another’s mind. Next to Earthdog tests, tracking can be your dog’s favorite sport.

The American Kennel Club defines tracking as “the demonstration of the dog’s ability to follow human scent”. Tracking is a vigorous, noncompetitive outdoor sport. Tracking tests demonstrate the willingness and enjoyment of the dog in its work and should always represent the best in sportsmanship and camaraderie by the people involved. There are three tracking titles offered by the AKC.


Ask your Border Terrier if they’d like to participate in a sport that involves running, jumping, playing with balls, playing tug, getting treats, and barking as much or as little as they want. If this gets them to prick up their ears, flyball may be the sport for the two of you. This is a sport where the punishment is to be removed from the area and not be able to play any longer.

Flyball is a relay race for dogs. Any breed or type of dog can play flyball. The race is comprised of 4 dogs on a team running head to head against another team of four dogs. Each dog must run down a 52 foot lane over a series of four jumps. At the end of the lane the dog hits a box that has a ball spring loaded so that the hitting of the box ejects the ball. The dog then grabs the ball and return over the four jumps with it, back to their owner for a game of tug or a nice treat. As the dog crosses the finish line to its owner the next dog on the team begins his race. The race is completed when all four dogs on the team have run without any errors.


Canine nose work or scent work, using dogs to find something using their nose, has been around since humans and dogs first began to work together. In companion events, it’s done directly in obedience for the article exercise and of course for tracking. In real life, it forms the basis for almost all that we use dogs for whether it is hunting, search and rescue, sentry work, drug detection, or any of the other hundreds of things we use dogs for.


A rat is a rat is a rat, and a border terrier doesn’t care whether it is above or below ground. According to our border terriers, the new sport of Barn Hunt is the best idea humans have had in a long time. They love it!

Many of our borders have been preparing to play the game for years. They have hunted rats in PVC tubes at hunting games such as Jo Ann Frier-Murza’s Ratting for Ratings and Jersey Junkyard Challenge, games calling for barn hunt type skills. Other borders have honed their skills at old-fashioned barn hunts.

The official sport of Barn Hunt was the brainchild of Barn Hunt Association LLC founder, Robin Nuttall, who used the older games and sought to provide a venue for all dogs, big and small, who like to hunt vermin. Historically, many breeds were used by itinerant “ratcatchers” to rid farms of crop-robbing, disease-spreading rats. The sport of Barn Hunt is modeled after the job these working dogs performed.

The sport takes place in a barn-like atmosphere that can be re-created almost anywhere. An enclosed ring, 50-60 bales of straw or hay, some PVC tubes, and some rats are all it takes for the border terriers get their rat on Barn Hunt style.


Does your little brown dog like to cuddle? How about meeting new people, does that excite him? Does he like to perform tricks for treats? Sounds like you have the makings of a Border Terrier therapy dog.

An animal visit can offer entertainment or a welcome distraction from pain and infirmity. People often talk to the dogs, and share with them their thoughts and feelings and memories. Animal visits provide something to look forward to. Stroking a dog or cat can reduce a person’s blood pressure. Petting encourages use of hands and arms, stretching and turning. Of all the things I do with my dog, the one that takes least work and offers the most reward is being a therapy dog. There are numerous organizations and types of therapy dog activities to choose from.