Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's the Best Agility Dog? A Novice Perspective...

This is the second most frequent question I am asked (right after, "You do Dog What?") when people find out we take Agility Lessons.
Having only 3 dogs in my life, my experience is limited and yet I feel qualified to answer this question!
The simple answer is: The best Agility dog is the dog who loves to do Agility. (understanding of course that the dog must be physically able to run and jump).
If you attend an Agility Trial, it will be come evident pretty quickly that there are all types of dogs AND all types of handlers.
The real qualifier is that while most any dog can do Agility, most of them come with their own unique challenges...
I recently heard an Agility friend exclaim in exasperation "This was supposed to be my EASY Agility dog!" when speaking of her most recent Agility dog.

{Me & One of the Best Agility Dogs!}

While there are many 'Best' Agility dogs, I'm not sure there are many 'Easy' Agility dogs and mine are no exception! While Gilda may not be the easiest Agility dog, she is still the best Agility dog in my eyes!
We had a great class last night. After not even looking at a set of weave poles for weeks, Gilda had no trouble getting right back to where she left off with them! She was happy and moving briskly throughout class and was willing to follow. She had one of her best Teeter sessions yet getting on with confidence and choosing to move along the length of it. We were even able to add more motion without a fearful reaction from Gilda. Of course the chicken baby food helped (a little)!
An outsider might think that a nearly 3 year-old Gilda should be performing better and faster with a full-height Teeter. I however, know how far this little dog has come and just how bright she really is.
And then there's Pico... Pico was supposed to be a 'companion dog': an easy going, low maintenance, lap lounging kind of dog... Notsomuch...

Instead he is a high-engery, fearless dynamo with an intense love of clicker training and to my novice mind, a real knack for Agility. In just a few short sessions, he was able to pull off a Jump-Tunnel-Jump last night! He is bright but in a different way than Gilda. Where she is intense and a little touchy, he has a shorter attention span but is not as stressy, taking most things in stride. Although he is just starting Agility, I can already see and feel a difference in how I train and handle each of them.

The point is, if you're interested in Agility at any level, most dogs, can play along quite well and will match your degree of commitment to the sport. And, most will bring along their own unique set of challenges!
Play Happy!

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