Agility Dog Watches Herself

Video captures two sides of this dog
By Karen B. London PhD, August 2018

Kirk the Border Collie is unable to contain herself as she watches her own winning run from the 2017 Small Dog Agility competition at the 2017 Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regionals with her handler, Channan Fosty. While fixated on the video for the 32 seconds of her run, Kirk jumps up and down over 3 dozen times—more than once a second. Her enthusiasm is contagious and with each jump, I found her more endearing.

It’s a joy to see her clean run on the agility course but equally fun to observe her watching that run. Seeing two distinct moments in the life of this dog is a reminder of the context-dependent nature of behavior. While watching her own run, she is bouncy, excitable and verging on being out of control. It’s hard to say whether she simply finds the sight of a dog on an agility course stimulating, or whether she recognizes either Fosty or herself on film. It seems more likely that she would recognize her handler than herself as she rarely, if ever, sees herself.

Despite her high energy and speed while competing, she does not seem wild and crazy in any way. Though she charges at and attacks each obstacle, she is completely in control emotionally, which is what I find most striking about the video. It’s especially easy to see the calmness of her focus in slow motion. Though she is amped up for the competition, all of her energy is channeled towards each obstacle and to hitting her contacts. She is a true representative example of a dog who needs a job and is better off for having one.

What catches your attention in this clip?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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