So, You Want An Agility Dog?
But what should you be looking for in a future agility partner? Drive! Stamina! Great body! Brilliant brains!
You should be looking for a family pet. Look for a dog you can live with! If you buy a dog that has awesome drive and is trainable and fast, but you can’t stand their constant pestering for a ball to be tossed, you’ve cheated yourself and your dog. Look for a breed or type you like, a dog you won’t mind walking every day, playing with all the time, and listening to it bark sometimes. If you like tiny dogs, big dogs, or long dogs, get one! They can do agility if they’re healthy and happy, just like any other dog. You may have to change the way you train, but what’s life without challenges? While you may not have a future world team member, you’ll have YOUR team member… which matters more?
You should be looking for a healthy animal. While some health conditions are fixable (puppy has sneezes, oh noes!) some simply aren’t. Choose a healthy animal, from a reputable breeder or shelter.
Yes, I said shelter. While there are valid arguments about shelter puppies’ uncertain parentage and affinities, see point one. You’re not looking for a champion first and foremost- you’re looking for a friend. If a puppy or young dog is healthy, it can do agility. Some people want purebreds, and that’s okay! But for those of you who have it in your heart to take a mystery mutt… often, you will be repaid in triplicate (to make up for the forms you fill out in triplicate). I know I have been.
A Smart Puppy. There are so many books that have detailed aptitude tests in them that I really feel it superfluous to go over aptitude testing here in this blog, but consider testing your puppies’ intelligence. Definitely test his willingness to interact with you! If the dog is happy to come to you when you happy voice at him, and looks up at you, then the chances of you having a future team-mate squirming in front of you are high!
There is no ‘perfect’ dog. There are many great, wonderful, awesome dogs, but perfection doesn’t exist in this world. Find a great, wonderful, awesome dog, and love them. They already love you!
Drive, stamina, good joints… all of those things are necessary in your dog. You can ‘train’ drive, and you can build stamina, but if your dog simply isn’t physically capable, then you probably can not do agility, at least not competitively. Your vet will help you decide. The good news is, though… if you chose your dog because you liked them, because they were a dog you wanted to work with and be a teammate with… it might not matter so much as you think. You can still enjoy breakfast, long walks, and good talks with them.
How did you meet your agility partner? How’d you know agility was for you?