Dogs are very multi-talented, and there are many different activities, sports, and competitions that they can participate in.
One of the most popular dog sports is agility. Or more specifically, agility obstacle courses.
Even if you’re not thinking of competing or entering your dog into any professional agility courses, training your dog and practicing agility courses can be very beneficial, especially because it counts as exercise, and it’s a great way to engage your dog in a fun manner!
The question is, however, if any dog breed can do agility. Usually, the dogs that stand out in agility belong to the same few breeds, which are known for being athletic and good at that sort of thing.
But what about other dogs? Can they do agility too? Should they?
Truth is, as long as your dog is healthy and up for it, agility is always beneficial and can do a lot of good.
You might have to adapt to the difficulty level, but any dog can thoroughly enjoy the exercise that it provides, and it can be a great regular activity to partake in together!
What Traits Make A Good Agility Dog?
Most dogs are more than capable of participating in an agility course, or at the very least of practicing agility with you as an active form of exercise and training.
However, there are some particular traits that are what make a dog good at agility, and these are therefore the desirable traits to look out for in a dog if you want to practice agility.
Here are the main ones.
A Healthy Weight
Agility involves a lot of running, jumping, turning, and similar. This means that your dog needs to be in good shape in order to perform well, but also so that there is no risk of injury.
If your dog is overweight, this could be a strain on the muscles and joints, and could cause some serious damage. So before you even think about getting your dog to practice agility exercises, first make sure to get your dog into the optimal shape and weight!
Good Overall Health
Agility should be used as a form of active exercise and training, not as a way to get your dog to become healthy. This is because your dog should already be healthy.
Agility requires a lot of physical effort, so it’s important that your dog is fully checked over and cleared for the activity. And if your dog ever gets injured, make sure he gets the right amount of rest before going back to it!
Good Temperament And Focus
In order to be good at agility courses, dogs need to have a good temperament, and excellent focus. Agility obstacle courses are often noisy, and the terrain is unfamiliar to your dog the first few times.
Also, there tends to be other dogs and people around, so if your dog is reactive, shy, or anxious, it will be quite the struggle.
It is vital that your dog is able to blank out everything except you and the course in front, so that your dog follows your orders and fully delves into the task at hand (or at paw!)
It is also very important that your dog is properly socialized, so that coming into contact with other dogs and people will not be an issue!
Eagerness To Work
Here’s the thing, if your dog doesn’t want to put in the work and focus on the agility course at hand, there is very little that you are going to achieve. It is vital that the dog is eager to work and please the owner, and for the dog to enjoy doing as such.
Young dogs and puppies are expected to become distracted, but an adult dog should be able to pay attention to you for long periods of time, focusing on the training and instructions.
If not, then that’s something that you will have to practice and master before you give agility a go.
The Best Agility Dog Breeds
All dogs, as long as they are healthy and willing, can train and learn to enjoy agility courses. However, some dog breeds are a lot better suited to this form of exercise than others!
So to give you an idea of what kind of dogs are the ones that stand out and succeed in agility, here is a list of the top 5 dog breeds that are pros at agility:
(Note that these dog breeds are in no particular order, all of them can be equally good at agility, and training takes a big part!)
Border Collies are often considered the supreme dog breed of agility courses, and it’s no surprise. They are medium to small in size, lean, with long legs and a short back.
They are incredibly athletic, are overall healthy, and have the perfect temperament and willingness to work and train. It’s no shock, therefore, that most winners of agility courses are Border Collies, and that some are specifically bred for this very purpose!
Australian Shepherds are very similar to Border Collies, with the main difference being that Australian Shepherds are a bit more physically capable, further enhancing their desirable traits for agility courses.
They are also hard workers that tend to exceed whatever is asked of them. That is, if you manage to get their excitement under control!
Shelties are another amazing dog breed that excel at agility. They’re slightly smaller, with shiny coats of hair that require quite a bit of grooming, but they are fast, focused, and able to master those sharp turns.
They’re known to bark quite a lot, and require socialization from an early age. But if you manage to get your Sheltie into agility, it will not let you down!
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs, also commonly referred to as Heelers, are known for being strong, reliable, and perseverent. They do not quit, and they will keep going, always faster and better, in order to succeed and please you.
They can struggle with remaining focused at first, and can be a bit of a handful when they get frustrated. But overall, they are loyal companions and born champions!
Papillons are…small. Which is why they are so easily overlooked for activities such as agility courses. But it turns out that these are pocket-sized champions which do not hesitate in exceeding at any task at hand!
They are excellent at focusing, and are able to practice over and over again. Plus, they can fly over those jumps!
Should Your Dog Do Agility?
We’ve talked about what traits are good for agility, and about what dog breeds excel at agility, but let’s get back to the main question. Can any dog do agility? Or more specifically, should your dog do agility?
Ask yourself the basics.
- Is your dog healthy?
- Is your dog properly socialized?
- Is your dog able to focus and obey commands?
- Is your dog hard-working and eager to learn?
If the answer to these is yes, then your dog can indeed be agile! In fact, doing agility will be a great form of exercise that also works the mind, and your dog will learn to love it as a regular activity.
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