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Old 08-28-2009, 06:15 PM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Default What makes a good agility dog?

Just curious. What qualities makes a dog successful at agility?
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:23 PM
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A dog you can live with....

Any dog you love to spend time with will be better than any other.

BUT.. Good conformation, not under or over angulated, drivey (food and toy drive) its a big plus if your dog wants to work with you.

It also depends on what you want out in an agility dog. I love speed.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:02 PM
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It also depends on what you want out in an agility dog. I love speed.
I was going to say, the dog you can live with at home, and run with on course.

Personally, I was considering a three-legged pug for my next agility dog, so I have one I can actually beat in a foot race. Then someone pointed out you can't run a tripod in agility, so I'm going to seek out an older pug who has been in an accident and had some broken limbs, so it'll be slow enough.

I think MOST dogs that are physically sound and who have owners who will put the time into training can run and compete at a level that is beyond acceptable for 99% of the people who do agility. Meg is as non-ideal an agility dog as could possibly be imagined, and with very limited trialing, she is one Q from moving up to the Masters level. I have no dreams of going to Worlds or getting ribbons at Cynosport; short of that, I think she can take me where ever I want to go.

For the other 1%, well.... Like Dekka said, conformation (not always correct for the breed, but correct for sport), a mix of both food and toy drive, an ability (trained or natural) to alternate between handler focus and obstacle focus, a temperment that allows them to brush off accidents or slips.

But I think most important of all, what makes a good agility dog is a dedicated agility student/handler.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:09 PM
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My last two dogs have been adopted with agility in mind. Z is currently competing and doing very well (hoping to finish her USDAA AD next weekend - her 3rd trial!). What has made her a good dog is the following, in no particular order:

- good structure
- will work for both food and toys with equal enthusiasm (my first agility dog would only work for food and that made some things really tough)
- enjoys the game (just playing agility with me is rewarding for her)
- biddable
- FAST
- agile (has saved my butt a number of times with her fast stops and turns)
- responsive but also able to anticipate in a good way when I screw up
- not overly sensitive to pressure
- incredibly social and very unlikely to be surprised or startled by anything (steady temperament)

Kes is in training and is doing well, but he's of a harder temperament and it can get in the way at times. He's truly bombproof though, so that helps in other areas - Z can get thrown off her game if I get upset with her or she gets confused.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:14 PM
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Drive and biddability, for me, are the two most important aspects. Independence and a bit of nerve go a long way, too, IMO.

I agree with Dekka though that a lot of it also depends on what you want out of a dog.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:16 PM
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As for having BOTH food and toy drive, Ares had amazing agility potential and he has close to zero toy drive. He has through the roof food drive and running and jumping is self-rewarding for him.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post

But I think most important of all, what makes a good agility dog is a dedicated agility student/handler.
^^^This!! excellent response.

Most people get in agility with the dog they already have. When choicing a dog they need to consider how they want to run agility.

Ask your self a couple of things.

Do you like adrenaline rushes?

Do you get easily frustrated?

Because both of those things often happen when running and training a high drive and fast dog.

Are you prepared to train longer (as in months/years) to develope the higher skill sets that both you and that dog will require?

Some people like the steady eddies while others want the rush, no matter what the cost is lol.

Oh yeah, and make sure you have available very good trainers to train with and being prepared to spend for those trainers. There are all kinds of trainers out there but they don't have the skills or the experience to teach you how to run a fast dog.


A lessor trainer can squeak by with low drive and moderate to slow dogs.........

Angulation too straight= possible shorter career, higher impact, shorter stride, vet bills are also possible, horrible jumping style which can result in dropped bars. etc.

Too over angulated: the more angulation to more unstable the legs are especially the hind end and they also tend to have less than ideal jumping styles etc.

Body type is also important: too heavy=hard on the dog, has to jump lower

But having said all dogs of all walks of life compete in agility and do well.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:23 AM
sammgirl sammgirl is offline
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Wow, that's for all of the great replies. I always wondered how you would pick a good agility dog.

When you all say, "a dog you can live with" what does that mean? Are you saying that you wouldn't want a dog that was too drivey or energetic because they'd be a pain in the rear or is there something else?

Also, are there breeds out there that are better? I've known some keeshond people who run bitches primarily and they seem to do just amazing things. I don't see as many male dogs competing as I do females in general.

Most people who compete seem to have shelties, JRTs, or border collies. That makes sense, because all of those are smart, fast, drivey dogs that do have nerve (especially those terriers) and people do love the breeds personalities.

When I was going to get the samm pup, I really wanted to do agility with him and sam owners really seem to think that sams are good for agility. They're just a little different to handle due to that independent streak.

I would say when I am able to do this, that I'm going to start out with a steady dog. One of the best keesie agility bitches is not the fastest, but she's very clean and accurate and has a very steady temperment. She's also a bit smaller then most of the bitches you see out there.

I don't think I'd want to start out with a dog with oodles of drive. Frankly, a dog like that would be wasted on a newbie like me.
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sammgirl View Post
When you all say, "a dog you can live with" what does that mean? Are you saying that you wouldn't want a dog that was too drivey or energetic because they'd be a pain in the rear or is there something else?
I love living with the crazy drivey energetic dogs. But for some people, they are too much to live with. What it means is that if you get a dog who is good at agility but not suitable for you as a companion, it'll make it difficult to do agility -- or anything really. "A dog you can live with" is always applicable and should always be the primary consideration above the needs of the desired sport.
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:31 PM
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I can give you a good example.

I know a woman that for years ran several painfully slow little dogs in agility. This woman was also very critical nor did she understand the challenges of running a fast dog. When I ran my dog (who is extremely fast) when I didn't tell him where to go at the right time which resulted in off courses (faults).........she always blamed my dog and made comments.

Now lets jump ahead a few years, this same woman now has herself a young BC, and it also appears that the dog is very over the top. This person has gone from one extreme to the other and she is having (or at least was the last time I saw her) a very difficult time dealing with the drives and the speed. The dog is also very frustrated on course, lots of head checks, spinning, barking and blasting off to do what they *think* they are suppose to.

Neither of them are happy and to top it off, the woman was complaining a great deal about how difficult the dog is to live with and how it is driving her and her other quieter dogs nuts........
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