Category Archives: agility

Which Dog Breeds Excel in Agility?

By Linda Cole

When people think of a specific dog breed for the sport of agility, the image of a Border Collie often comes to mind. The dog’s piercing eyes are focused on his human partner as he waits to start his run. Both dog and owner are pumped and ready to go, eager to test themselves against the clock. The dog’s job is to race around an obstacle course as quickly as he can, taking direction from his partner. The Border Collie excels in this fast-paced and demanding sport, but there are other breeds that have the speed, intelligence and determination to be agility champs.

Aside from being a fun way for a dog to burn off energy, agility is a sport that builds confidence and patience. One look into their intense, eager eyes and you just know that agility is something dogs truly love to do. A paralyzed Border Collie named Zip enjoys agility so much that she continues to run courses in her wheelchair!

Herding Dogs

Members of the Herding Group have what it takes to excel in agility. These breeds were developed to move livestock and can make sharp turns. They have plenty of stamina and speed, can think on their own and are workaholics who follow commands from their handler. They are intelligent and quick to learn new things. This group includes the Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog and Australian Shepherd. Even the short-legged Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgi can succeed in this dog sport.

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Understanding Dog Show Terms

By Suzanne Alicie

Many dog lovers enjoy watching dog shows. We get to see the “top dogs” of each breed, but a lot of us may find ourselves wondering exactly how the judges choose the winners. There are many terms and standards that “show dog” owners are aware of and work to achieve. Let’s take a look at a few of these and what they mean, so the next time you watch a dog show you’ll understand more about the process and have more insight into the final results.

Breed Standard

The breed standard includes several areas of the dog’s appearance which are dictated by the AKC for show dogs. This means that dogs of a specific breed which are the wrong color, have any irregularities or are too large or small for the breed standard won’t be competing. The dogs which have shown that they fit the breed standard will be further evaluated to find the best example of the breed in the show.

Stacking

Stacking is how the dog stands naturally and when placed in position. This is something that the handler or trainer will teach the dog. Stacking helps the judges see all areas of the dog’s structure to evaluate against the breed standard and to allow the judges to feel the dogs bone structure and muscles. The breed standard stacking position differs from breed to breed. While evaluating the stack, you may hear judges and announcers talk about angulations, soundness and pedigree.

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Small Dog Breeds for Active Lifestyles

By Linda Cole

People who love to run and enjoy the companionship of a dog by their side have a tendency to pick larger dogs as a running partner. Small dog breeds aren’t usually thought of as being able to keep up the pace over the long haul. However, the cool thing about all dog breeds, large and small, is their unique and varied energy levels.

Small dogs can have as much energy packed into their little bodies as a Border Collie or Labrador, and are ready to show you what they’ve got. If you have an active lifestyle, you don’t have to look far to find a small dog breed that will relish a stimulating hike or run. After all, many small breeds were bred as working dogs, and have the tenacity, energy and loyalty to fit into most lifestyles.

High Energy Small Working Dogs

A small dog is usually considered to be less than 22 pounds. Not surprisingly, terrier breeds dominate in the group of small dogs with the highest activity level. Dogs who run on high octane were bred to hunt small prey like rabbits, foxes and rats. These little dogs had to be brave, fearless and tenacious to follow whatever they were chasing underground to root them out. Many times, their prey turned out to be bigger than they were. Today’s terriers haven’t lost their desire to chase prey. A rabbit bursting out from under a bush can quickly find a terrier hot on his heels.

With boundless energy, these dogs are always ready for a good run, whether it’s jogging with his owner or chasing a neighborhood cat. Some examples of small dogs with lots of energy include the Parson Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, Border Terrier, Australian Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Basenji and Petit Basset Griffon. These breeds can learn to live with cats in the home, and they are great with children and other dogs in the home.

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Zip: The Inspiring Story of a Disabled Dog

By Linda Cole

No matter how hard we try to protect our pets, accidents happen. It’s how we respond to help a pet deal with devastating injuries that makes a difference in how they recover. A dog named Zip survived a horrible accident that changed her life forever. Sue Cohen, Zip’s owner, has had to deal with health concerns of her own. After seeing a You Tube video of Zip running an agility course in her wheelchair, I contacted Sue to learn more about her amazing dog. However, I discovered through our conversations that Sue is equally amazing and inspiring. She didn’t allow Zip to give up, and Zip returned the favor.

As I watched the video, I could see the smile on Zip’s face and her enjoyment was evident as she ran. Zip could no longer sail over bars, weave through poles or race through tunnels, but just being on the course made her happy. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the brave Border Collie run. Her body may be disabled, but in her heart Zip is the same dog she has always been. Not even a wheelchair can keep her away from a sport she loves.

Sometimes a dog gets lucky and finds the right owner. This was the case with Zip. Her first home was with an owner who didn’t understand the needs of a Border Collie, and while Sue was fostering Zip, she fell in love with her and discovered Zip’s potential in agility. “When I got the papers from the previous owner, I saw that her grandfather had been imported from Scotland and there was a Great Britain Herding Champion (a highly coveted achievement) in her bloodline. I had already named her Zip and I found out she had an ancestor also named Zip.”

Sue lives with chronic pain and was diagnosed with genetic degenerative disc disease when she was 22 years old. The disease has made it difficult for her to do agility with her dogs, but agility is something she enjoys as much as her dogs. When Zip didn’t give up, her determination inspired Sue to keep going too.

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How to Train Your Dog for Agility Competitions

By Linda Cole

Agility training is a sport that’s been gaining in popularity for some time. It’s a great way to give your dog plenty of exercise and stimulation to keep his mind and body healthy. You might be surprised to learn your dog isn’t the couch potato you once thought after watching him jump, weave, and run around a course having the time of his life. Agility training requires time and patience, but it’s worth the effort to have a sport you can do together. If you’ve taught your dog basic commands, then he’s ready to learn how to navigate an agility course.

Contact obstacles include a teeter-totter, dog walk and A-frame. They’re called contact obstacles because in order for the dog to successfully complete the task, he must touch a certain spot on one or both ends with at least one of his feet.

Teeter-totter – If your dog is reluctant to walk on the teeter-totter, begin with a square 4 x 4 piece of plywood on the ground with a small ball under it. Have him move around on the wood so he can get used to movement under his feet. Once he’s comfortable with movement, move to the teeter-totter. With your dog on a 6 ft. leash, give him a description command for each obstacle (teeter-totter, A-frame, weave, etc.) and move him towards the obstacle. Make sure he touches any required spots before going on. When he correctly succeeds at each task, give him praise and a treat reward. As he gets used to the movement of the teeter-totter, you can increase his speed.


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The Advantages of Belonging to a Dog Club

By Linda Cole

Dog events are held around the country every year, and they are all sponsored by a dog club. Whether it’s an event in obedience, a conformation dog show, agility or field trials – it was organized by a dog club. Even if you have never participated in a sponsored event, joining a dog club is to your advantage and may even inspire you to enter your dog in one of their events.

Before joining any dog club, you must first decide what it is you want from one. You can find a variety of dog clubs, each with their own area of interest, and not all dog clubs are AKC sponsored. Clubs are for people and their dogs who share a love for a specific breed, or an enthusiasm for hiking, surfing, field trials, agility, obedience and many other interests. The one thing they all have in common is a love for dogs and an activity the members are interested in. Some dog clubs have a relaxed atmosphere while others are more demanding and want the dogs to be well behaved. It depends on the individual club, so you need to understand what’s expected before joining one. However, all clubs expect dogs to be socialized with other dogs and people.


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