What are the Best Shoes for Dog Agility?

by WeaselPuppy

What's the best shoe for running around like a maniac trying to keep up with that crazy dog? What should you think about when selecting your shoe?

If "the shoes make the man," don't they also make the agility handler? But, selecting the appropriate shoe for you may be more involved than going to the Clean Run website and picking the pair that goes best with your favorite agility outfit. Is there a perfect agility shoe? What happens if you don't have it? I know, in my case, it led to a lot of physical pain for me, so now I am a convert: Get the right agility shoe!

Why Worry About Agility Shoes?

What are the Problems With the Wrong Shoes?

A lot of people get really into the agility wardrobe.  They have the perfect tee layered with a properly contrasting undershirt, awesome athletic pants and even their socks are obviously bought just for this agility thing.  Everything matches perfectly and hides the jiggles so they look awesome on the videos on facebook.  I have seen people wearing skirts for agility matches - these cool-looking sort of athletic miniskirt things.  Yeah, no videos of me doing agility in a miniskirt are ever going up on Facebook.  Nobody wants to see that.  The more of me covered up, the better, and for gosh's sake, hide the jittery parts.  But, the concern with agility shoes isn't the fashion statement.

I am a cheapskate, but the reason for the $20 shoes was pretty compelling.  I have a dog that eats shoes, or rips the insoles out of them, or takes them out to the yard and hides them in her secret stash for the rain and dirt to destroy.  I am used to going out to the back yard in my stocking feet and checking her hoard for my work shoes in the mornings.  But, that dog went through five pairs of shoes in one weekend!  When shoes in my house have a lifespan shorter than a fruit fly, there is good reasons to get cheap ones.  

I wore cheap shoes I bought for $12 and it caused me a great deal of pain.  I developed severe heel pain from those shoes.  It became an act of will to set my feet on the floor and hobble out of bed in the mornings.  I am not that old and, with three very active dogs, there was no way I could function like that.  Eventually, I had to break down and get some better shoes. 


Factors to Consider in Agility Shoes

Traction and Support and What Else?

My most glaring problem with my shoes was that they did not support my feet properly.  As they wore out, they allowed too much roll and caused problems with my stride and the tendons in my feet, leading to the excruciating pain.  There are inserts you can put in your shoes to help with this.  The debate is still out on whether feet need a lot of support to prevent injury, or perhaps shoes should go to the more opposite extreme and imitate the freedom of movement of going barefoot.  Going barefoot did not aggravate my heel pain.  Other shoes did not, either.  But the cheap shoes did, as they wore out.  

Another problem I was having with my shoes was a lack of traction.  As I ran on the grassy agility field, I was missing cues as a slipped and lost my footing.  In agility, you will run on a variety of surfaces, from horse arena footing to artificial turf, to anti fatigue matting.    Try to select shoes that will work best on the surfaces you usually run and train on. 

Another factor is shoe care.  How easy are the shoes to clean?  Do they stay clean?  Are they rugged enough to stand up to the abuse?  Do you need waterproof shoes or shoes that breathe?  Don't get white shoes, obviously, but, more than that, consider their washability and durability. 

Can you afford to get a pair of shoes just for agility?  This is ideal, but not realistic for me. 

Shoe Accessories

My shoes are always untied.  I don't know why.  It's a gift, I guess.  People always worry about it and warn me, at first, then they get used to it and ignore it.  So, I love Lock Laces.  There are a variety of types, and you can get them in any color.  They are slightly stretchy laces with a plastic lock on them that you feed the ends of the laces through, tighten down, and lock.  Then you feed the ends of the laces through another endclamp trim off the excess and clamp the ends. 

I have never had occasion to use shoe dryers.  I am a wimp, and if it's that icky, I ain't going to risk injuring my dog because she slipped.  However, if you are more hardcore than me, you might find them useful. 

What is Your Ideal Agility Shoe?

Do you like finger shoes? Support? Traction? Waterproof?
Updated: 07/12/2013, WeaselPuppy
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katiem2 on 05/21/2013

Good to know, something to think about, thanks for the great information and product reviews.

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