At the starting line: taking control of your run

23 Jan

Emma, over at Miles & Emma, wrote a great article on how to deal with an agility dog who jumps the start line and essentially forces you to begin your run before you were ready. While this is directed at agility dogs it definitely applies to all disciplines and even to the casual trainer who doesn’t compete. Allowing your dog to decide when he can end a behavior causes it to disintegrate quickly into worse instead of better.

I have a really hard time with this because I think “crap, if he breaks before I say ‘OK’ then the whole thing is ruined!” So then I quickly blurt out “OK!”, which is more an ego band-aid then an actual cue. At that point Wally has already ended the behavior so not only did I weaken the behavior, I also weakened the release! Ugh, training is so complex. ;)

Check out Emma’s article below and make sure to watch the linked videos!

Don’t Jump the Gun! Start Line Practice, Refining the Release from Sit/Stay


This is what Wally is probably doing right about now

This is what Wally is probably doing right about now


Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Training


Tags: , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “At the starting line: taking control of your run

  1. Emma

    January 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I saw this snippet on tv tonight about a sheep that was held back as a pet at a farm because she was so smart, and more like the border collies there than the other sheep. After “apprenticing” with the border collies for a while, the sheep was tested on Level 1 of herding. She passed. Then, level 2, which would put her in the “real herding dog” category or something like that. She failed. But not because she wasn’t aware of the meaning of the commands — because quite simply, she liked her life as a lazy sheep-pet, and didn’t feel like working!!!!!!!!! That 5 minutes of tv killed me.

    • Cassafrass

      February 7, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Lol, smart sheep! Why work when you can sit around and eat all day? ;) That is pretty incredible that it learned how to herd though, I’m really impressed!

  2. emma

    January 25, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Thank you as always Cassie for passing this along. The above is fantastic. I think we are on the right track, because we can be honest with ourselves. It is incredibly humbling, yes, but so much more useful than being stubbornly not-self-aware on these sorts of issues. I mean, I think any good dog trainer is very stubborn, but in the right ways!

    We terrier people have to be both — resolved in our endless want to do better, stubborn both in our patience and passion, all while at the same time, remaining vulnerably open to criticism and acknowledging *momentary* failure so that we can improve! It is a special kind of strength we build. I think the fact that we have it harder, and accept that, is what ultimately allows us to grow more. I really do. :)

    I read the following essay in an old Clean Run last night and it really cracked me up. The part about “come come come” is dead on. Again, it is agility-specific, but the meaning of it is so true in all aspects of human-canine interaction!

    • Cassafrass

      January 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

      I have to admit there are times I watch my Sporting and Herding breed friends with envy and covet the ease with which they train! Training a Terrier is SO much more challenging, but that’s actually a big reason why I love Terriers. They’re just like me: convince me that this is worth my time and I’m in, otherwise I’ve got better things to do. ;)

      I’ll definitely check out this Clean Run article, thanks for sharing!

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