The Start Line Stay Debate
It would seem there is some debate on whether or not an agility dog should have a solid start line stay. There are numerous trainers that have a solid Start Line Stay on all their dogs no matter the breed or other issues. There are also numerous trainers that choose not to enforce the stay for various reasons. And I am not talking about fly-by-night backyard trainers we are talking about multiple World Champions.
There is one thing in common about either side of this debate and that is the goal of dog agility. It is to build a solid team with a foundation of fun, trust and control. Both sides focus on the fun aspect of training despite which way you want to go. If you need a start line stay you need to make it a fun thing to do just like any other obstacle. Those that don’t feel their dog works well with a start line stay are focusing on the dog’s fun as well. They find it drains the dog of drive or joy in the start of the run.
Then we go to the individual handlers. We all cannot keep up with a super fast dog (or sometimes even a not so fast dog) and find that the start line stay helps keep things tight and our dogs focused. Others that want to run without the start line stay may need to be fast and/or have excellent distance handling in place as the dog could easily get well ahead of the handler. And as we mentioned above some handlers have found that it helps their dog run better if they get them “amped” up before the start.
So what does it all mean? Basically, you have to follow your heart with conviction and flexibility. Conviction that the training methods you choose are the best for you, your dog and your situation. Flexibility in your thinking that your way is not the only way and may not be what someone else chooses for them and their dogs and that is ok.
We are all out there for the same basic reason and that is to build a solid relationship of teamwork with our dogs and to have fun doing it. So if your training methods, or those being taught by someone, are causing you and your dog stress it may be time to find a different method or different angle that will make sense to your team. Anyway you go it should be upbeat, positive and fun for you and your dog whether or not you decide to “stay” or “go.”