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Boxers consistently rank as one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are well-known for their affection, loyalty, playful natures, and guard dog instincts. All of these traits make the boxer a great choice as a family pet, and sometimes even on occasion, as a working dog.
But what about agility? Can Boxers participate and succeed in the sport of agility?
Boxers can do very well in agility sports because of their eagerness to please, energetic personality, and powerful builds. However, they may be slowed down a little by their stockiness and stubborn natures. Even so, agility might be a fun new sport for you and your boxer.
Here’s everything you need to know about what makes your boxer good at agility, what they might struggle with, and how to set your boxer up for success in this sport.
Before we move on though, just check out these amazing boxers showing off their agility skills:
What Exactly Is Agility?
Dog agility is becoming an increasingly popular sport around the world. It showcases dogs’ intelligence and athleticism, as well as their bond with their handler.
During dog agility, you’ll see dogs weave through a set obstacle course as quickly as they can. The typical obstacle course will ask the dog to run through tunnels, weave through poles, jump over bars or through hoops, or even run over seesaws.
Why Might Boxers Excel At Agility?
There are several reasons that boxers may be very good at agility. They have energetic, people-pleasing personalities, and their powerful build reflects the athleticism needed for agility.
They’re Ready To Work
Boxers are very eager to please their humans and have a long history of working closely with their human companions. It all started hundreds of years ago when boxers were used as hunting dogs in England. As boxers spread across Europe, they were bred with a greater focus on guarding and even found themselves on a few farms as an all-around farm dog.
By the time they made it to America, boxers had done just about every job there is! That means that boxers not only have a long history of hard work but they’re also used to following commands from their humans.
This is one of the number one traits a good agility dog needs to have. Your dog needs to have a good connection with you in order to follow your commands quickly and efficiently in the course. Because they’re so eager to please, boxers will learn what you ask them to and perform it well.
Boxers are energetic, enthusiastic pups. They need about an hour of exercise every day; that exercise can be achieved through play, walks, runs, or a sport like agility!
Agility obviously takes a lot of energy, and boxers will easily be able to meet the demands of the sport. It’ll be a great exercise for them, as agility is both physically and mentally challenging.
They’re Strong And Muscular
Boxers have a strong, muscular build, which is definitely helpful when it comes to agility. They come by their strength genetically, thanks to the working-dog jobs they were bred for. Boxers can easily weigh up to 70 pounds, and a lot of that weight is muscle. You’ll see a lot of that muscle in their neck and chest areas.
That strength, along with their powerful legs and back, will enable them to complete all of the obstacles in an agility course. They’ll have no trouble powering over a seesaw or leaping through a hoop.
Why Might Boxers Have Trouble With Agility?
Despite these great characteristics, boxers may struggle with agility for a few reasons.
They Don’t Like The Heat
Boxers don’t do well in the heat. They’re a brachycephalic breed, which means that their short, stout heads and noses aren’t great for handling high temperatures. Thanks to short, restricted air passages, boxers may have trouble getting enough oxygen, especially when it’s hot out.
Many agility courses and contests take place outside, often during the summer or spring. If you choose to train your boxer in agility, make sure they don’t get overheated as they’re completing outdoor courses. Give them plenty of breaks, ample water, and cool-downs when necessary.
Although boxers have a powerful build, their physical characteristics may work against them as well. They’re heavy, which could slow down their time, and their legs aren’t quite long enough to be an asset in agility.
Thanks to their stocky build, boxers most likely won’t be able to make tight turns like more common agility dogs such as border collies or Australian shepherds. While boxers absolutely will still be able to complete an agility course well, you’ll most likely have to work a lot at getting your boxer’s overall time down.
They Can Be Stubborn
Although boxers are people-pleasers, they can also be stubborn, especially if they’re bored or uninterested.
Agility can be repetitive. Each individual event, such as weaving through poles or going over jumps, takes a lot of practice, and then it takes even more practice to put all the events together into one cohesive course.
If your boxer gets bored with the constant practice, you may start to see their stubbornness surface. If you notice your boxer losing interest, get creative with their training in order to keep them engaged. Introduce a new obstacle, send them through the course in a different order, or take some time away from the obstacles to practice more basic skills.
How Do You Train A Boxer To Do Agility?
Agility is an awesome form of both physical exercise and mental stimulation for you and your boxer. However, training an agility dog takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll need to be patient as your boxer learns how to do agility. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Socialize Your Boxer
As with most extensive training, the first step of agility training is to begin with socialization. If you choose to take your dog to agility events or competitions, they’ll be around many other dogs, people, and new situations. Your boxer has to know how to behave well around other dogs, and you’ll want them to be comfortable around their fellow canine competitors.
Experts say you can begin socializing your boxer puppy with other animals as soon as they have all their shots. That’s as young as four months. The better socialized your boxer is, the more comfortable they’ll be at future agility events.
Train In Basic Commands
Begin with the basics! Before your boxer can understand and perform the more complicated commands needed for agility, they’ll need to know basic commands such as sit, stay, come, or down. After your boxer has mastered those basic commands, they’ll be ready for agility training.
Train Agility Commands
Begin working on specific commands that your boxer will need to know for agility, such as “heel,” “turn,” or “over.” When your dog follows basic commands well and is fully grown, you can begin introducing basic obstacles. Start with low jumps or tunnels, and spend plenty of time on weave pole training, which tend to be the most difficult to learn.
Get Them Started In The Agility World
When you’ve worked with your boxer plenty at home, you’ll be ready to jump into the world of agility. Many cities offer dog agility clubs or organizations that you can join, where you’ll be able to trade hints and tips with other dog owners, as well as get access to trainers that can help advance your dog to the next level of agility training.
Finally, you’ll be ready to start entering your boxer in beginner agility contests. These beginner competitions are a great way to get your dog used to a competition environment and to help them keep learning in a low-stakes environment.
Have Fun Doing Agility With Your Boxer!
Although boxers weren’t bred for agility, their energetic, intelligent natures and powerful build can help them excel at this sport. With a little training, agility can be a fun exercise for both you and your four-legged friend.