Some Thoughts about Canine Competitions
In order to excel in any sport two things are needed, your physical and mental game. A weakness in the body / mind connection is going to cost you, in any competition. Even billiard players hit the gym to develop and enhance the necessary strength and endurance in both areas.
If your dog is going into any of the physical competitions involving vigorous activity, the same rules apply to building muscle and mind. In other words, Rocky needs to be an athlete.
The question is, what kind of athlete? Greyhounds and Malamutes are both incredible athletes, but switching their jobs would result in a tragic comedy. Try pitting a Malamute against a greyhound on the race track or hook up a Greyhound to a sled in the Alaska wilderness, neither is suggested and both are cruel, bottom line is make sure Rocky has the body for the challenge you intend.
As for the mind, a sweet, loving Golden certainly may have the build to do protection work, but don’t you think a Shepard or Malinois, would be a bit more mentally suited for the work?
Different breeds pass along the talents that are particular to their breed. This is why your breed of choice is paramount; it’s genetic. Obviously, even within the same breed, there are winners who produce winners, and there are dogs that pass along neither the conformation nor disposition required to excel in everything. And isn’t that great, because whether it’s People, Poodles, or Pekinese, we are all blessed with talent. It’s just different talents.
So, no matter who his parents were and what they achieved, if you are trying to turn your Rocky into a first class agility dog, and he just doesn’t have the drive according to your standards, (and of course, only if you can truthfully say it isn’t your fault) don’t blame him. It isn’t his fault either. See how he does at Flyball, or Rally, or any one of the troves of dog sports out there. Find something that he excels at, and you both will be smiling standing in the winner’s circle.
Notwithstanding all of this, conformation is always king for any of the dog sports. Good hips, solid muscle, joints made of iron, along with the eyes and coordination of a hawk, are the attributes of a champion, but the overall stature of the dog also separates good from great. Is he too long in body? Hocks turned out too far? Bad angulation and chest, no reach? All of this plays a part in physically competitive dog sports.
But the best confirmation dog who has the combined mental game of four dogs, still isn’t going to cut it without a great team leader. There is no such thing as a winning dog and handler team who are not bonded to each other. They work together and enjoy being there with and for each other.
I have witnessed firsthand great teams who did not do so well on a particular day, who just let it slide off and pass by, with no emotion at all. Why? Because they were both mainly there to enjoy each other’s company, and have some fun. The whole winning/victory thing is a just a side benefit.