When Should I Compete in Dog Agility
How can you know your dog is ready for an agility competition? I swear, some dogs are born ready! Others seem to tolerate shows at best, and at worst, have screaming meltdowns every time. Outside of natural propensities (you know your dog best!), there are a few things to think about when you’re determining if you are ready or not, beyond the club rules.
- Are YOU ready? I know, that’s a cop out of a question, but think about it. You are the captain of your team. If you don’t feel ready to compete, your dog certainly is not!
- Do you have a good foundation as a team? This point is often argued. Some say that dogs can start in fun runs just as soon as they can master tunnels and jumps, so the dog will get used to the atmosphere and learn that trials are fun. Others say you need to be sure your dog knows every obstacle and is prepared for anything. I generally believe somewhere in between works out great – but erring more on the side of experience! If you go too early and your dog does poorly and you get frustrated, you may get a bad taste for competitions! If you know for certain you can go JUST for fun, then it could be a great experience!
- Is your dog ready? Have you socialized your dog sufficiently to not panic about new places, sights, smells, and people (both human and canine)? Agility classes are a great way to get your dog started on this important socialization, and so is visiting trials (that allow it) without entering to run. By not adding the run-stress, you can concentrate on getting your dog used to trials before they have to work them! (Thus accomplishing what you wanted to do in question #2!
At the end of the day, there is no hard and fast answer for the question ‘when should I compete’, because every dog and every person is unique, and every team is different. However, the questions above are a good place to start in determining how prepared you are for a competition.