Leading out at the Start Line
So you’re confident that your dog will stay at the starting line, so you go way up to the first or second obstacle and then call to your dog with the “go” command. Good to do? Possibly. If your dog is trembling with excitement to break his stay and run like a lightning bolt, you need to get ahead as far as you can! But for some dogs who are more hesitant, it may be better (even if they have a reliable stay), for you to stay by their side and play with them until it’s time to run. Then unclip your leash and go. While you may have to run faster because you didn’t get a head-start, you may find your dog more revved up and less apt to be poky in the initial start-up.
Now usually, a slow dog at start-up is caused by a lack of drive. In home or class sequencing, it is important to reward your dog (through effective motivational methods) in the right balance. People often reward their dogs too often, or not often enough. Too often, and you get a dog one who is always looking to you for a reward after every obstacle (not to mention possibly fat and full before you even finish your practice session). Too little, and you will have an umotivated dog who forgets the whole reason why he loves agility to begin with. The right balance is important, and it is a balance that should continually be adjusted at home practice to produce the optimum drive.
For more information, read “Motivating Your Dog” blog entry.