Puppy Relay Training

Laura Griffith

A dog relay is a common event at various dog exhibitions and canine competitions. There are various types of relay races. Some involve the dog trainer carrying the relay device, such as a baton. Alternatively, the dog may carry the relay device in his or her mouth. Whatever the type of relay race, dog owners can start training their pets when they are puppies in preparation for future relay competitions.

Step 1

Teach your puppy basic dog commands. Examples include: sit, come, stay and roll over. All relays will involve starts and stops. Some may also include agility events, such as rolling under a bar. During such events, basic dog commands will help guide your dog through the relay course. You may teach the commands yourself or enroll your puppy in a dog school through your locale humane society or pet store.

Step 2

Instruct your puppy to focus on you when you call his or her name. Dogs must be entirely focused on their owners during competition events. Repeatedly call the puppy's name and provide a small dog snack as a reward. After repeated name training, your puppy will be fully alert every time you say his name.

Step 3

Set up a short relay course. While you may not know the setup for your puppy's future competitions, you can setup a basic loop course in your backyard using traffic cones, little flags or similar markers. Walk your puppy on a leash around the loop and provide a dog treat as a reward at the end of the loop. Repeat several times before taking your puppy off the leash. Your puppy will realize that walking the loop will earn her an award.

Step 4

Add an obstacle, such as a box, that the puppy has to jump over or a bar that he or she must roll under. Repeat Step 3, incorporating the dog commands you taught your puppy in Step 1 to help guide the puppy over, around or under the obstacles. Continue to award the puppy with a dog treat at the end of the loop course.

Step 5

Give your puppy a toy to hold in his mouth during the loop course. Repeat Step 4. This trains the puppy to hold a baton or similar relay device as he may be required to do in future competitions.

Step 6

Take the puppy to a busy dog park and set up the relay course there. Continue to call her name and give commands to guide the puppy through the course. Training in a busy location will help train the puppy to stay focused on the course even while there are other dogs and humans nearby.


  • Give your dog a unique name to help him differentiate himself from other dogs when multiple owners and trainers are calling out names. For example, a dog with a common name such as "Fido" will have a harder time hearing his owner if there are several Fidos in the relay race.


  • Contact the local chapter of the U.S. Dog Agility Association to enroll your puppy in a local relay race or competition. The more races your puppy is in, the more comfortable she will become with the entire event.

Items You Will Need

  • Puppy treats
  • Dog toy
  • Leash
  • Traffic cones, alert flags or similar markers
  • Box, bar or similar obstacle item



About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

Photo Credits

  • Laura Griffith