Put quite simply, lure coursing is a sport where dogs are enticed to chase and catch a plastic bag (the lure) that is attached to a string. The string pulls the plastic bag around a set out course which includes straight sections, corners, and zigzags or chicanes. Needless to say the dogs have a wonderful time and, as they come to understand the game, become quite keen to catch the plastic bag. Course designs change from time to time to keep the dogs interested and are designed to mimic the antics of a hare avoiding being caught by a hunting sight hound.
To make the sport more interesting and fun for the dog owners, the dogs are judged according to their performance on the course, and awarded points which lead to the National Field Champion title. As the point score is solely based on a dog’s individual performance, any dog irrespective of whether it is a pure bred or part bred, can gain points leading to the National Field Champion title. This is a non-competitve sport where a dog’s natural ability is judged.
Dogs are awarded points based on how well they perform according to the following five criteria –
- Enthusiasm to chase the lure
- Skill in following the lure
- Agility to stick close to the lure around the corners and particularly in changing direction
- Speed generated to overrun and catch the lure
- Endurance and overall fitness.
All dogs can have fun lure coursing as our course lengths vary according to the size and age of the dog. The standard course is a minimum of 500 meters, but 250 meters is recommended for small dogs and veterans, ie. dogs over 7 years old.
In Australia, the sport began almost 30 years ago when Sabine and Steve Mueller migrated here with their coursing Afghan hounds and helped to set up the Queensland Lure Coursing Association on their property at Hope Island, near the Gold Coast. They brought the European rules, judging techniques and point scoring system which are the basis of the ALCA regulations and guidelines for the sport today.