Build a Rock Solid Start-Line Stay!


Agility is a fun way to Dog Obedience.

When we talk about Dog Obedience Training, we will be reminded on the military style dog obedience, sharp turns, military or robotic heeling...

Here is a fun way to Obedience known as Dog Agility.

The Dog Agility Community has done dog lovers a great service. Having to put training and its training paradigm into a new sport and making it a great Dog Dog Sport in the 21st Century.

Like in any discipline, basic foundation skills are vital and necessary. In this blog, I am focusing on the Start-Line Stay. What is the objective for a start-line stay? Start-Line Stay enable the handler to move into an optimum position before releasing his dog to start his agility run, this is to aid you for a quicker, on time cue and a great flow in your agility run to clock good timing to earn yourself a Qualification in Competition.

What are the elements in a Start-Line Stay? It consists the STAY, the DISTANCE STAY and the RELEASE! We should break it down to train the separate element before we combine as a complete Start-Line Stay Exercise.

The STAY Exercise

The Stay exercise consists of 2 elements; the TIME and the DISTANCE. Training your puppy or dog to understand the essence of time; how long is 5, 10, 20, 30 seconds ... the feel of time is important in this exercise.

Start with getting your puppy to a Sit Position. Show a hand signal with your palm facing your dog, give a sit cue and count 5 seconds. If your dog stays, mark and reward. You can follow the same Sequence to extend the time after a good success rate of 80%.

The Distance Stay Exercise

The Distance Stay is the distance element I mentioned above. Now the objective is to get your dog Sits and Stay with you moving further away from where he sat.

The stay now focuses on the distance and not time. You can lower your expectations on time as you work on the distance element.

With the Stay verbal and physical cue, with your leg still extended, take a step backwards, count 5 seconds and return to reward your puppy. Do this until he can stay for 5 seconds maybe for about 6-8 feet away from your puppy, then you can start challenging the time plus distance combine.

The Release Exercise

This Release Exercise calls for absolute obedience, plus the body movement like in agility, you are challenging your puppy for all TIME + DISTANCE + MOTIONS.

For TIME and DISTANCE, we have already discussed on the above point, now we focus on MOTIONS.

The main difference is the normal stay usually is done facing the puppy, however, the start line stays, usually, you are facing the same direction and on the motion. The start-line stay needs to incorporate motion as you might release your puppy as on motion.

Teaching the actual release, your puppy must know the release command. It can be okay, come, go etc... Start by to get your pup into a Sit. Then give the cue OKAY we a released COMMAND before rewarding him. At this stage, if you can, you might want to incorporate the release from all angles, stationary or in motion. Again if you can get 80% reliability of the behaviour, you are ready to chain all behaviours together to accomplish the Start-Line Stay.

As always, remember to have fun and it's through positive reinforcement, you will achieve this exercise with absolute compliance, and by no means of FORCE and PUNISHMENT.

Have fun & stay position!

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