What makes a good agility dog?

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by DobeLove, May 24, 2010.

  1. DobeLove

    DobeLove New Member

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    So I have been to only 2 agility trials where I actually watch and pay attention to what the dogs are doing. I have seen dogs that are slow, yet willing to work and if their owners are confident they seem to not miss a beat. Then I see dogs that have crazy amounts of drive and energy. Not completely focused on their owner because they are going too fast to really look at them :p Which would you say is better?

    I kind of want to start agility with Avril when I get her back from her being specialed. She has a lot of energy and drive, but she CAN focus on me and most of the time she is eager to please me. I was thinking of doing Jessie until Avril gets back, I don't think jessie would be as fast and I would rather mess up with jessie then Avril :D

    Anyways, what do you think makes a good agility dog?
     
  2. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    Honestly, any dog can be a good agility dog. The competition level agility classes with my trainer are quite the eclectic mix. There's a slow as molasses mastiff, a lightning fast border collie, a little yorkie who trots around as fast as he can (but he's a yorkie, so his steps are tiny!), and everything in between.

    I've seen fearful dogs gain confidence and spastic dogs gain focus (that's my Lucy!). There is no "by the book" agility dog. I will say that it's incredibly challenging to have my first agility dog be speedy, but it's not impossible at all (and I'm a klutz). Now that her focus is better and we're getting more in tune, it's way more fun to have a drivey dog (imo). I think it'd be frustrating to have to stand out on the course cheering my dog on to make her run!

    I don't know how long you're waiting for Avril, but this isn't an overnight thing--it's not like if you start with one dog you'll be running courses in a couple weeks. It'll be a while before you're stringing obstacles together and need to worry about speed.
     
  3. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    A good agility handler makes a good agility dog. :D

    Honestly, I no longer think there are ANY rules, other than a physically sound dog. I've seen too many defy the expectations of everyone.

    You can build speed and drive in any dog. "Cook your own crack in your own little crack den at home", as a friend of mine with a formerly super-soft, low drive border collie who now is spectacular, put it. You can put accuracy and control on any out of control speed demon. Some of it is what you like to work with and are good at. I (excuse what sounds like boasting) am really proud of my ability to build confidence and drive on a slow dog. I don't particularly like it - I'd like more drive and boldness for my next dog. But I can do it. Whether or not I can put the accuracy on a fast dog remains to be seen :p.

    I think the right answer is to take the dog you love and who you can happily live with at home, and build from there. Even with the amount of agility I do, it adds up to maybe four hours a week. The other 164 hours a week Meg is my companion and friend. No amount of agility talent is worth dealing with a dog I don't love the rest of the time.
     
  4. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    It depends on how competitive you want to be (and what venue). There is a wonderful woman here with the sweetest dog, she is an excellent handler and takes lessons from the 'best'. He is just too slow to make AAC masters times other than occasionally. He is consistent and happy.

    He does very well in CPE where the times are a lot more generous. But it comes down to what sort of dog YOU will be happiest with. I personally wouldn't have fun with a dog where I had to cheerlead. I would be happier with off courses cause I dropped a shoulder or was a fraction of a second late with a cue. But other people would rather have a slower more forgiving dog.
     
  5. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Absolutely. Although I'd argue the use of the word "forgiving"! Prior to installing her new and improved engine, Meg was certainly one to give me plenty of time to keep her on course, but of course, one incorrect glance ("Are you mad at me? What did I do wrong? I'm done.") or messing up her track by crossing at the wrong point ("Wait, I'm not supposed to be here? I'm a failure. I'm done.") and the game was over for the day.

    I've spent the last three or four years running in my figurative pleated skirt and pom-poms, and I finally have a dog who will pretty much hold up to anything and is getting through masters and tournament USDAA without ever having time issues. I am so ready to try the other end of the spectrum, although am a bit worried it will turn into a "the grass is always greener" sort of thing!
     
  6. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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  7. DobeLove

    DobeLove New Member

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    Oops sorry didn't see that thread! Thanks everyone!

    Avril won't come home until atleast July of next year (she isn't leaving for another 3-4 weeks) So I would have time to train Jessie. They are completely different, Jessie I might have to cheerlead with, Avril is super crazy and will probably be fast (but I don't know anything so I could be completely off :))
     
  8. MissMutt

    MissMutt New Member

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    I think a good agility dog is a careful combination of speed and accuracy. There are lots of speedy agility dogs out there who run their own course or knock bars, and there are slow, accurate dogs who run the course clean but can't make course time.

    Some people like the thrill of a high-drive agility dog who is hard to run, others like to poke along in Novice and Beginner classes with slow dogs. I, personally, like a dog right down the middle - VERY accurate and speedy enough to be competitive. (Figure 5ish YPS in Jumpers and 4ish YPS in Standard courses in AKC - probably isn't going to get the blue ribbon, but will get the job done respectably). My trainer describes her dog with these traits as being like "an old shoe." Real easy and comfortable to run, but he's fast enough for a 4 MACHs and still running at an advanced age.
     

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