I just wrapped up a workshop with young dogs getting ready to trial. I would say less than 30% of the group had really reliable start lines stays. That is not a good sign. If you don’t have a start line routine before the dog sinks his teeth into how exciting agility can be, trust me, you better be a great runner ’cause it won’t be long before you will have no start line performance at all.
I said to this group, that I could get any of their dogs staying at the start line with me in less than five minutes. They groaned and didn’t believe me. One woman started talking about “start line stress” how her Brittany stresses out at the start line and sniffs or looks away and gets to the point where he just won’t sit, let alone stay. I waited until he showed us that. Sure enough by her second turn up that is exactly what he did. I took the dog, played a game with him and within 3 minutes I was out past the third jump, talking doggie trash to him by throwing a cookie up and down telling him it was MINE!
Don’t get down on yourself if your start line is less than brilliant. Just browse the internet watching video clips of agility teams and take a look at what some of the start line stays look like. Many of the “high profile” agility competitors; seminar presenters, world team members, even former high profile obedience competitors, can not get their dogs to stay at the start line in agility!
However, finding yourself in the company of this agility royalty should not give you an excuse not to have a brilliant start line. In my opinion, there is no excuse. I have trialled 7 dogs in agility starting in 1990. I have always trialled 2- 3 dogs during that time. So those multiple dogs trialling over the last 20 years represents at least 50 years of agility trialling with only a single dog. All of my dogs (with the exception of DeCaff) have been extremely high drive, some way over-the-top in drive. Yet I have only ever had one dog in those 50 years break a start line, and she did it less than five times. If you want a great start line, you shall have one, it is as simple as that.
Guess where this brilliance starts . . . you got it, Crate Games. Crate Games are the start of so much in my dog training program, the least of which is impulse control. If you don’t have the Crate Games get it now. I mean it, don’t even finish the rest of this post click on this link, here I am giving it to you for the third time, click on it and buy the darn thing. I purposely kept the price down when I produced Crate Games so it was affordable to EVERYONE. Get your own copy, do not borrow a friends, they will need to review it after this post.
Work through Crate Games until it is innate in your dogs, like this little Toller one of my readers had to tell me about. Crate Games where so ingrained, she started doing them in the dryer.
I will follow up later in the week with some hints to help everyone’s start line but I will wait until you purchase your copy or for some of you, you get the cellophane of the DVD and actually put it in the DVD player and watch it.
Watch it and take notes, watch it all and come back with any questions. Watch it today, let it be movie night for the family!
Today I am grateful for the great attitude of the last weekend’s group that unfortunately had to spent some time in the rain (but it is still toasty warm outside so, not so bad right?)