Home Page Forums Darwin’s Ark Dog sport/Activity suggestions

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    rebecca rice


    I was looking through these and was wondering if there is some way of grading each individual activity, instead of the overall category. For example: herding. I’ve tried Pixie on sheep, and she shows no instinct for it, but was perfectly happy to chase them around. Treibball, on the other hand, she loves. So I don’t know whether I should say that the herding category in general is a good match for dogs like her, or not. It gets even more complicated when there are 6 or more sports lumped together.



    dawn miller

    good point there. Our dogs train in IPO. Same sport, same club, etc. One loves the Bite Work portion and one just doesn’t understand it yet.


    lindsay gaudet

    Has anyone else found the activity suggestions to be completely inaccurate? My one dog, who is lazy, hates running, and has never seriously chased anything in his life, has 5/5 paw prints for herding. (He is also not a traditional herding breed).


    dawn miller

    Suggestions are just that, Suggestions. Of my two German Shepherds, one got a few paws for herding and one got none. They both got five paw for protection, yet I think my she-pup needs to learn more confidence with strangers. My boy, spot on. Other than that, I think the suggested activities is a pretty good match.

    I think if my she-pup tried Lure Coursing I’d have to be careful she didn’t hurt herself. Being larger than more LC dogs she could easily get into trouble with sharp corners. I know she take after the lure like a bullet and barely slow down for a turn.


    jesse mcclure

    **Rebecca**, we did spend a bit of time and effort figuring out how to best group activities into meaningful groups. We had a good bit of preliminary data to find which activities tended to group together – but trends are just trends, there are always exceptions. A great example is the Tracking category where some of the specific activites are really only good for small dogs and some others may be best for large dogs. But the temperaments or personalities of dogs that benefit most from tracking activities have some similarities despite their body sizes being completely different. So we don’t expect that *all* the activities in a highly rated category will be great for the dog they are recommended for – but it’s likely that one of them could be.

    There is always a bit of a balancing act between binning and splitting this type of data. If we bin too much we get activities that really might not be similar at all grouped together. On the flip side, if we split out each individual activity, we’d not be able to make useful inferences: you’d tell us your dog likes Fly Ball, and we’d be able to say “Your dog may like Fly Ball” – not so helpful. But by finding clusters of activities that have grouped together in many dogs (we did a cluster/factor analysis on preliminary data) we can make inferences that many dogs that like Fly Ball also like Agility – and we can also see what temperament or personality traits from the surveys correlate with that sport preference.

    **Lindsay**, you’re absolutely right: for the moment the recommendations may be pretty bad. Help us improve them. As noted on the sports page:

    > Please note that the scores for these recommendations (the number of “paws”) will change as we gather more data on which to base the recommendations. For now these are quite preliminary

    But even with an expansive data set, we’ll still be wrong from time to time. Life would be boring if it could be so easily reduced to a handful of numbers. But that doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t useful. These sports recommendations work a lot like career recommendations based on personality tests for people. We may know that *on average* personality types like an INTJ on the Myers Briggs scale may be well suited to carreers in the scienes. So all else being equal, and INTJ should think whether the sciences may be right for them. But there are countless INTJs who would be miserable as scientists, and many phenomenal scientists who have Myers Briggs types that are not common in the field.

    I’ve also written up an article all about these sports recommendations for our November newsletter which unfortunately has been delayed. But that should be out soon.


    rebecca rice

    Jesse – could you do both, bin and spilt? In other words, provide the ability to give feedback on the group and the individual sports? So I could say that, overall, “herding” activities are good for dogs like mine, but for sheep in particular I could point out that there is an instinctive part to it that she seems to be lacking. That could, possibly, help you to fine-tune recommendations, based upon any genetic components that you can determine.


    I thought the predictions were very accurate for my two! I was very impressed, it is hard to generalize things like this but mine were spot on. My 1.5 year old mini poodle is in training to be a therapy dog, and I was interested in trying AKC tracking and rally with him. He had 5/5 paws tracking, 4.5/5 course sports, mid ratings on most everything else, very low protection. Then I checked standard poodle that just likes being a lazy pet with a little trick training here and there….he had 3 stars for doggie R&R and nothing for any other category. It perfectly predicted my potential sport dog and my grumpy old man!

    The write-ups for each activity was also excellent, I could tell a lot of work went into summaries, training tips, and examples. I was also happy to see a poodle used for one of the examples, I think lure coursing 🙂


    william hutton

    i’m kind of puzzled about why hunting would not be listed as an activity for a breed bred to hunt.
    if anything id expect the genes and associated behaviors would stand out more so among the sporting groups


    jesse mcclure

    William, we don’t use the breed in generating the recommendations. It’s based only off of the survey answers you’ve provided for your dog. There certainly can be dogs of a breed typically used for hunting that may not love huntng. But for now there could also be a simpler explanation: we don’t yet have sufficient data to make the best recommendations. This should be changing quickly though, so check back to see the changes to your pup’s recommendations.

    All we know for now is that based on our currently limited data set, your dog’s personality survey was most similar to dogs that did not love hunting (if hunting was not highly rated for your dog). This could be a real pattern, or it may be an oddity of the limited data which will get cleared up as more answers come in.

    Out of curiosity, do you hunt with your dog? Does she enjoy it and/or do well at it? In other words, do you expect she’d like hunting based on her breed, or do you know she does based on experience?


    william hutton

    yes I do hunt my dog .
    you can’t teach a dog to hunt ,they either do it or don’t. because they want to.
    but you obviously hedge your bet by choosing a breed that was bred to do that.
    she does well, but would not be a good candidate for competitive field trialing.

    is hunting a suggested activity already?
    the reason I asked the question is because many of the activities ,herding ,tracking , swimming are things that may seem of only moderate interest to my dog. but they are all used by her in some capacity while hunting with a lot of intensity and focus.
    as an example , my dog is not a big swimmer. wading is more her style
    but if there is a duck to retrieve ,she will swim thru icebergs in February to get it.

    so i’m guessing that
    if hunting is one of your recommended activities , I have an oddity ?
    if hunting is not a recommended activity I could have a possible pattern?


    dawn miller

    gun dog / hunting does sound like a good activity but I suspect if a person isn’t already a hunter, they aren’t going to take it up to give their dog something to do. These other activities, although many require a large investment of time (and money) aren’t such a lifestyle change at taking up hunting.


    jesse mcclure

    Hunting itself is not one of the recommended activities. It could have been – it was in our initial pool of items, but perhaps it is because there are so many component behaviors in being a good gun dog that the personality surveys didn’t align well with being an effective gun dog. In otherwords, there may be a wide range of dog “personalities” that can make great gun dogs. While I’m not a hunter myself, this would make sense to me: does your hunting dog need to track, or to retrieve, or to point, or all of the above? Each of these components are in the activity list.

    Or it could just as well be that there is a behavioral dimension relating to being motivated for the actual hunt (retrieving a real duck) but having less interest in the dog-sport components of hunting. But this behavioral trait may not have been captured by the personality portion of our questionairres so we didn’t find good correlations on which to recommend hunting itself for a given dog.

    Also, when you look at the activity recommendation page, every activity is listed for every dog regardless of their survey responses. This is because we generally want to encourage people to be active with their dogs. *All* of the activites are good/healthy for dogs in general and if we can introduce people to dog activities they’ve never thought of or heard of before, that itself is a win in my book. We just take the 9 categories of activities and sort them (and give them a “paw” rating) based on which one looks like it would be best for your dog.


    kari doucette

    What characteristics lead to a suggestion in the Protection category? I was surprised to see 4 paws for my slow-moving, somewhat aloof St. Bernard. It’s the last thing I would have thought he would be good at (or enjoy). Yet I can’t down-rate it, because we haven’t tried it.


    dawn miller

    wow, I can just imagine a St. Bernard lumbering up to a bite sleeve and slobbering all over it. Now that would make for a funny cartoon.


    allison miller

    I had a bit of a laugh at some of the activities–they are all great suggestions, don’t get me wrong–I just haven’t found many activities my Labrador will do. I have had him checked out a the vet numerous times, and run tests, x-rays etc., to rule out any health problems or injuries, and the only activities he seems to like are going for walks, lounging (he’s a pro), meeting people and (very) occasionally digging under our tree. He really doesn’t play with toys, he doesn’t retrieve, swim or play with other dogs he doesn’t even bark at the doorbell (my little dog doesn’t either–it’s actually kind of nice 🙂 I wonder how much of his behavior is nurture rather than nature? We don’t know his history, but we wonder if he just wasn’t exposed to a whole lot when he was a pup.

    My initial response to utilizing his personality was that he would make an excellent therapy dog, but he has this terrible pawing habit where he smacks you for attention, and we’ve had a devil of a time trying to un-train this habit so that he is safe with seniors and little ones.

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