Sports proscpects vs. Liveability: a poll

Are the dogs you know:

  • Sports superstar + excellent housepet

    Votes: 5 50.0%
  • Sports superstar + requires some management

    Votes: 6 60.0%
  • Participation trophy + excellent housepet

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • Participation trophy + requires some management

    Votes: 1 10.0%

  • Total voters
    10

pinkspore

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#1
I've been trying to explain Sisci to my golden retriever-loving coworkers who just can't fathom what I see in the bitey beast. I say I got her to do agility/flyball/disc/herding with, not to love everyone she meets. They ask why a dog can't do both.

This got me wondering about top-level performance dogs and whether there's a tradeoff between aptitude/ability and general pet livability. I know just about any dog can do any sport, but I'm specifically thinking of the top-level dogs. Do the fastest, strongest, highest-flying dogs also tend to be social housepets?

Edit: I know there are a ton of definitions for liveable, go ahead and use your own. Mine is "figures out house rules quickly and doesn't perpetually try **** just to see if they can get away with it". Ru is an incredibly liveable dog. Brisbane requires a lot of management to prevent him from eating people, breaking into the fridge, or taking over the world.
 
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BostonBanker

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#2
I can only speak to agility, but the vast majority of agility dogs I know, including ones who have been in final rounds at Nationals and traveled overseas for competitions, are also pretty wonderful house pets. They might not be without the level of mental and physical exercise they get, but as they are...yeah. Probably also a case of higher level trainers being more effective at training life skills as well.

These are dogs sho have to stay in tents/hotels/RVs on a regular basis, travel all over, walk through crowds.

I see a decent bit of dog reactivity, but well managed, obviously.
 

milos_mommy

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#3
I have pretty minimal experience with sporting dogs, but basically...

They are livable, fairly easily (or at least well) managed house pets, but I don't necessarily believe they would be so in a typical household. They are good, sociable pets BECAUSE they do sports and live with somewhat experienced trainers and "dog people".

Like BB said...it can be tough to do sports (at least agility/flyball stuff, things like herding, PP sports, etc are different) because they need to travel well, deal with crowded environments, etc.

Without the sports outlet or experienced handling they'd likely eat through walls and murder neighborhood joggers at every chance they got.
 

BostonBanker

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#4
Without the sports outlet or experienced handling they'd likely eat through walls and murder neighborhood joggers at every chance they got.
Just to be clear, that definitely wasn't my point. Most of the sport dogs I know, even higher level ones, are pretty decent household pets. Without the physical and mental outlet of sports (or an active pet home, of which there are quite a few), they might be less easy to live with - but I don't think many would hit the extremes above.

But again, my experience is almost entirely agility. The sport itself requires the training of a decent amount of self-control, and it's a higher percentage of BCs (softer tempered, generally, than an ACD for example). Perhaps it isn't the case with all sport dogs. I don't think there's much correlation between naughtiness and success in sport.
 

GoingNowhere

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#5
I wouldn't be surprised at all if the better sports dogs were also higher drive and higher energy in general. High drive + high energy does not necessarily equal low key house companion (which I think is many people's idea of "easy to live with"). That's not to say that sports dogs couldn't be good house pets, but, for example, I think that the same character traits that make Boo willing to chill out by herself in the house for most of the day snoozing are also what make her less biddable and a bit slower to react to things that don't terribly excite her. If I could bottle prey drive for deer, she'd be a superstar. As it is, she's fun to practice trick training with and I have no doubt that a good trainer could have done a lot more with her than I have, but beyond her physical stature, her mind isn't usually on "I want to DO something" mode.

In terms of dog/human friendliness, I have absolutely no idea if there would be a correlation unless handler sensitivity has anything to do with sensitivity to other "triggers"

TLDR: I think there are more than physical factors at play as to why border collies rock the dog sport world and are also notoriously not "low key" house pets. :)
 

Southpaw

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#6
Sawyer is a fantastic house pet, easy to live with at home aand I can easily bring him to other people's houses too and have him chill... he is an easy dog to bring anywhere and do anything with. My inexperienced opinion is that he has great sports potential too. We mostly only do disc but he is driven and focused and with a better handler lol would probably be way better (but I think he's pretty great even with me). The folks at IPO think he has great drive and would excel at a lot of sports.

So yeah, I think he's a piece of cake to live with but sure maybe he wouldn't be that way if I didn't do stuff with him. Although we do routinely go a day or 2 without exercise and he's still easy. Basically he knows very well when to be on, amd when to turn off.
 

DanL

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#7
A lot of people I know who have sport or working dogs (in the bitework/protection sports or police/k9 arena) don't have them in the house, they have really nice outdoor kennels. Super high drive with little to no off switch isn't conducive to an easy going house dog. Can it be done? Sure, I know other people who have off the hook drive dogs but it's their only 1, not 1 of a half dozen. Nola can be pretty hard to handle when she gets rammy but she's also got a nice off switch and is content to lay on the couch as much as she's jumping up the walls to work and play.
 
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#8
My dogs have always lived in the house, bite sports, and i think they are rather easy house dogs compared to your average house dog. one is clearly higher in potential than the other, but that has more to do with nerves than drive. I haven't met many dogs at any level with more drive than my female and she's pretty easy to live with once she learned she couldn't eat our cats.
 

Dogdragoness

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#9
I have been into sporting and working dogs in some shape or form for over 20 years, all my truly great sporting and working dogs were the "requires some management" type.

Lincoln injured his patellar ligament a month or so ago and had to stay quiet or two weeks, and I got a glimpse of how he would be if he had to live a sedate lifestyle with a not so active owner, and it wasnt pretty, LOL.
 
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#10
So I agonized over my poll answer and couldn't pick one :p

I would describe my personal dogs as extremely livable with. I don't worry about them. They are nice pets, for me. They don't do stuff that annoys me (I'm willing to put up with a lot to avoid having to train manners) and can deal with a few days off. A week or more gets a little dicey. But I'd also call them only mid drive. We make a respectable showing, but I don't have NOC dogs in my house.

I decided my answer is that the higher a level you intend to compete, the more structured the dog's life is. When you compete at national and international levels, a good portion of your life is structured around the dog and the sport.

I would also say it is a nerve issue in addition to drive. I know very low drive dogs that need LOTS of management because they're anxious wrecks.

And there's training as well - there's a definite tendency for people to excuse and encourage obnoxious behavior as "he's a high drive sports dog!" Lots of dogs need help learning how to cycle in and out of arousal.
 

Dekka

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#11
Just to be clear, that definitely wasn't my point. Most of the sport dogs I know, even higher level ones, are pretty decent household pets. Without the physical and mental outlet of sports (or an active pet home, of which there are quite a few), they might be less easy to live with - but I don't think many would hit the extremes above.

But again, my experience is almost entirely agility. The sport itself requires the training of a decent amount of self-control, and it's a higher percentage of BCs (softer tempered, generally, than an ACD for example). Perhaps it isn't the case with all sport dogs. I don't think there's much correlation between naughtiness and success in sport.
Depends on naughtiness I think. IME some of the smartest dogs have been the most difficult in some ways. Smart driven dogs will find ways to get what they want. Less bright or driven dogs are more likely to not find ways and just accept what life has given them.

That doesn't mean they can't be great pets. And I wouldn't even say they need management. They just need homes that will keep them entertained.
 

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