As a handler, there are few things more frustrating in agility than an unreliable start line stay.
As a dog agility instructor, there are few things more frustrating to me than a handler blaming their dog for a broken start line. Remember that your dog’s behavior is a reflection of your ability to teach and maintain criteria.
Here are three common ways handlers deteriorate their dog’s start line stay behavior. By learning to avoid these mistakes, you’ll keep your dog’s start line strong.
Release With a Flourish
In this scenario, the handler moves her hand (usually) or head at the same time she gives her dog’s release cue.
This deteriorates your dog’s start line because all dogs pay more attention to our body language than our verbal cues, unless they have been explicitly trained to ignore our bodies and only listen. (This is why it’s so difficult to train reliable verbal cues in agility that override our physical cues.)