Instructor: Nancy Gagliardi Little
Many dogs will start out their agility career with a good start line. But, over time that start line behavior starts to deteriorate. Why do good start lines break down for some dogs? Why is it that some dogs have great start lines and other dogs struggle when it appears to be the same handling?
In this class, you will build a start line behavior from the ground up and then add handling that is essential in maintaining that behavior throughout your dog's agility career. Agility people focus a lot on training and handling once the dog leaves the start line. But not many people understand the importance of the training and handling involved before the dog leaves the start line. That's what this class will focus on.
This class is perfect for young dogs that have not started trialing. It will also be helpful for dogs that have start line issues at the trials. It is strongly suggested you refrain from trialing your dog while you work through this class.
This class is NOT intended to address over-arousal issues or fear issues.
Next session starts: June 1, 2019Registration starts: May 22, 2019Registration ends: June 15, 2019
Registration will begin at 11:30 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
- Foundations of impulse control
- Clean Verbal Cues
- Moving Towards the Ring Entrance & Entering the Ring
- The Stay
- Introduction of the Release
- Handling the Release Without the Dog
- Training a Release from a Station
- Handling a Release from a Station
- Reset Start
- Training and Handling a Release from a Station (continued)
- Release from Position
- Setup at the start line
- Leash On and Off Strategy
- Lead out/Release from the Setup
- Moving to the start line area
- Putting it all together
- Testing the Start line (delays, changing setup position, changing handler position etc)
Please Note: This class will NOT address over arousal or fear based issues.
- One jump
- One tunnel (optional - for more advanced work at the end, not required)
- Platform or any prop that helps your dog assume the desired position (sit, down, stand) when you set him up at the start line. This will be needed, if you want a more accurate and dependable setup or line up. This prop will be used to line up your dog up at your left or right side. Use whatever type of prop will help. If you don't know what you want, we can discuss this in class.
- A portable dog cot or well-defined dog bed (beds or mats that do not have a well-defined edge will not work well). I strongly suggest a portable dog cot. The raised area of a dog cot will help your dog understand boundary training and will make training progress much faster.
Here are some examples of dog cots that are reasonably priced for a medium sized dog (change the size up or down for your dog)
K&H Manufacturing Original Pet Cot: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CLA0RY6/
Kopek’s Elevated Indoor Outdoor Portable Bed – Extra Large: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XKYSJDC/
Kopek’s Elevated Indoor Outdoor Portable Bed – Medium Size: https://www.amazon.com/Kopeks-Elevated-Indoor-Outdoor-Portable/dp/B01BFMP4CU/
Here are some examples of dog cots for the smaller dogs:
K&H Manufacturing Original Pet Cot: https://smile.amazon.com/Pet-Products-Original-Elevated-Chocolate/dp/B00CLA0RY6/
K&H Pet Products Comfy Pet Cot Elevated Pet Bed Small: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B002446SOW
Carlson Portable Dog Cot: http://carlsonpetpro
- For toy motivated dogs, toy for throwing as a reward. If your prefers food, then you will need a food toy that you can throw. Examples of food toys:
My preferences are these:
Lotus balls: https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=3098&ParentCat=132
Treat hugger: https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=5087&ParentCat=132
Fern treat dispensing pull apart: https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=5225&ParentCat=132
Lily treat dispensing pull apart: https://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=5224&ParentCat=132
If your dog’s start line behavior started out strong and then fell apart, how did that happen? If you are looking to train a brilliant start line, how can you make sure that the behavior doesn’t fall apart?
As is with all behaviors, it has to do with what is being reinforced, how is it reinforced, and handling cues. Most of the dogs doing agility LOVE it. Training the obstacles and sequences with positive reinforcement, creates a strong desire to “go” interact with them. “Going” becomes a highly valued reward for the dog. If you do not control or handle the “going” properly with clear criteria and cues, then your dog will be reinforced when he goes to the next obstacle. The behavior at the start line can start to change in classes or trials when the handler feels rushed, disconnects (thinking about the sequence ahead), or is unaware of signals or patterns that unintentionally become the cue for the dog to leave. Also, there can be some issues caused by confusion or frustration which causes a negative conditioned emotional response from the dog at the start line. And when that happens, you no longer have a dog that can think clearly. Anything can happen!!
Here are some examples of handler behavior that can cause start line behavior issues:
- Attempt to control the dog’s behavior
- Backing up or facing the dog while leading out
- Repeating the stay cue while leading out
- Physically placing the dog into position (i.e. pushing the rear down, etc)
- Overly demanding/punitive stay cue tone
- Being disconnected or distracted
- Using unpredictable patterns or unintentionally pairing the verbal release cue with motion
- Showing disappointment and/or negative emotions
Dogs will learn the start line routine pattern that is established by you. This pattern starts from the time you walk into the ring until the dog leaves the start line. As each of these small patterns move forward, towards “going” each of them is rewarded by continuing to the next pattern. It ends up being a very strong behavior chain that builds and gains momentum. If there are any unwanted behaviors along the way, those behaviors are also reinforced by continuing forward in the start line sequence.
Unfortunately, most of the time these patterns go unnoticed until the dog is displaying lots of unwanted behaviors, including leaving the start line before the intended release cue is given. To solve these issues, you must to break things down and rebuild a different set of behaviors.
A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ...
Nancy is an excellent instructor. Her attention to detail, the speed which she moves forward to achieve a goal is stunning. Her strategies in training, seminars, groups class work. The ultimate challenge will be when we trial!!!
This is the BEST class I have ever taken (even outside of Fenzi). This class should be a prerequisite for anyone doing agility! Until taking Nancy's class, I didn't realize that my handler mechanics were the root cause of my issues. I have now become obsessed with clean markers and not pairing the onset of movement with a verbal cue. I love how she broke the whole routine down into tiny components.
Let's just say we got 26 points and two QQs this past weekend. That may not sound like much to an agility superstar but to a team that typically eeks out a few points in STD and often doesn't double Q because we are a few seconds over time in JWW, it was HUGE! Did I mention we used our newly developed start line procedure in each of the four runs (and praise and blind crosses but no cheerleading :))? We clearly have more work to do but I feel that we are headed in the right direction! Many thanks to Nancy for her guidance and leadership in getting us to this point. Sally & Reese
It was a wonderful class and I will recommend it to my friends. Nancy is extremely knowledgeable and very kind and informative in her comments to the students.
Nancy is knowledgeable, thorough, and willing to change things up based on the individual needs of each dog/handler team. I know this takes a lot of dedicated time and thoughtfulness on her part, and it is greatly appreciated.
This was an excellent class. I wish I had been able to take at Silver or Gold. I might retake at a higher level.
Nancy is a very talented educator. She breaks the curriculum down into achievable experiences.