Lure Coursing: a brindle Whippet is captured mid-run in a Lure Coursing event. The dog's athleticism is evident by its lean body, stretched out in full sprint. Its focus is directed ahead towards a red, crumpled plastic lure that it is chasing. The background is a blurred natural setting, suggesting a high-speed chase. Bright sunlight bathes the scene, creating a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere. The dog's intense concentration and the motion of its run are the focal points of this action-packed moment.
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Lure Coursing

A discipline for my Whippet?

Whippets are athletic, agile, and elegant dogs. They were bred for hare coursing in England. Today, they excel in numerous competitions, but Lure Coursing is undoubtedly one of the most popular. This discipline showcases Whippets’ speed, endurance, and hunting instinct.

Last September, I was lucky enough to attend a great Lure Coursing competition at the magnificent Arnac-Pompadour racecourse in the Corrèze region of France, so I thought I’d introduce you to the discipline and share a video and photo with you. But what is really Lure Coursing?

Hare hunting with a Whippet, or any other dog, has been officially banned in France since 1844, and in England and Wales since 2004. In other countries, including the USA, it is still a competitive sport.

In the 1970s, modern Lure Coursing was officially invented, replacing the hare with artificial prey.

Lure Coursing is considered a working discipline. It replicates a hunting session behind small game. Whippets chase a decoy (usually made of rag and tape, sometimes rabbit skin) in place of the game. The lure is pulled with a rope, pulleys to make the turns and, at the end, a high-speed motor (around 50km/h) that winds up the rope. The course is always in a natural environment. Two Whippets compete in each race. They must pass through a series of natural or artificial obstacles and capture the lure. Dogs are judged on speed, follow, agility, enthusiasm, and endurance.

This sport, which is open to all sighthounds, including Whippets, has become one of the breed’s most popular disciplines.

The first laps of the track are done slowly, from 11 months onwards, to respect the Whippet’s growth. The first races are always solo. This way, the Whippet first gets used to following the lure, before moving on to the duo. Whippets can race up to 8 years of age.

However, competitions are only open to dogs whose pedigree has been confirmed. Everything is highly regulated. In Europe, competing dogs need a coursing license or racing license for official national and international lure coursing trials, obtained through a racing or coursing club, and are principally run in braces only of the same breed, or run solo. So, if you’d like your Whippet to take part in this type of racing, it’s important to find out about the formalities involved. But the most important thing is to have a good day out together!

You’re now interested in Lure Coursing for your Whippet. If so, it’s essential that you start with proper training. The following recommendations will help you train your dog for this sport:

  1. Start slowly: It’s important not to rush your Whippet’s training. It’s best to start slowly. Start with a short distance and gradually increase the distance and speed over time.
  2. Use positive reinforcement techniques: Positive reinforcement helps encourage your Whippet to follow the lure. You can use rewards such as treats, petting and praise to encourage good behavior.
  3. Use a lure for training: To get your Whippet used to Lure Coursing, use a plush or cloth lure for training.
  4. Train your Whippet to stay focused: A Whippet can quickly lose focus. So, train your Whippet to stay focused on the lure, even if there are distractions around. You can do this by using distractions. Don’t hesitate to test your dog’s concentration with toys or other dogs.
  5. Train your Whippet to take curves: Lure Coursing courses often include curves. So, it’s important to train your Whippet to take turns. Use cones or markers to point him in the right direction.
  6. Equip yourself properly: Make sure you have the right equipment for the competition, such as a harness and racing leash, as well as comfortable shoes for yourself.
  7. Train your Whippet to run on a leash: A leash is mandatory during the competition. So, start by training your Whippet to run on a leash. Use a harness and running leash to make sure he’s safe and comfortable.
Lure Coursing: a Whippet in a full gallop across a well-maintained grassy field. The dog is predominantly white with dark brindle patches, and it appears to be focused intently on something ahead of it, likely a lure, though the target is not visible in the shot. The setting is a sunny day with ample greenery in the background, and there's a bright orange cone visible, which may be part of the course marking. The Whippet's athletic form and high energy are well-captured, with all four feet off the ground, demonstrating the breed's renowned speed and agility during a lure coursing run.

And now it’s off! Your Whippet is ready for his 1st competition. Here are a few recommendations to help you prepare:

  1. Check the competition rules: It’s important to check the competition rules. Make sure you understand them before you enter. Rules can vary from one competition to another. That’s why it’s important to read them carefully.
  2.  Be ready to encourage your Whippet: Whippets are easily distracted during competition. That’s why it’s imperative to encourage and support them throughout the race. Speak to them in an encouraging voice. Praise them every time they follow the lure.
  3. Be patient: Whippets can sometimes become unfocused or tired during competition. Be patient. Encourage your dog to keep going, even if he needs a break or a little extra stimulation.
  4. Make sure your Whippet is in good health: Before the competition, make sure your Whippet is in good health. He should always be up to date on his vaccinations. A trip to the vet may be in order. Make sure he’s well fed. Finally, keep your Whippet well hydrated. That way, he’ll be in top form during the competition.
  5. Have fun! Lure Coursing is a fun and exciting competition for Whippets and their owners. Enjoy your time with your Whippet. Enjoy it together. Don’t worry about the competition results. The most important thing is to have a good time together.
Lure Coursing: Arnac Pompadour  (France) 2023, a vast, open grassy field prepared for a Lure Coursing event, bathed in the golden light of early morning or late afternoon. The sky is clear and blue, indicating fair weather. Hay bales are strategically placed across the field, likely to create a path or obstacles for the coursing activity. Small groups of people are scattered throughout the area, possibly participants, organizers, or spectators of the event. The perimeter is lined with dense trees, providing a natural boundary for the expansive field. The setup suggests an organized, competitive environment for sighthounds to demonstrate their coursing ability in a controlled and structured outdoor setting.

So, Lure Coursing is an exciting sport and competition for Whippets and their owners. With the right training and a little (a lot 😉) of patience, you can help your Whippet become a super Lure Coursing’s racer. And don’t forget that the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your time with your Whippet, whatever your place at the end of the competition. So, get out there and have fun with your Whippet!

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