Hey it’s Lisa Selthofer here of Spot on Agility, 20-year agility judge and I’m also going to talk to you today about start lines and how I create a confident and enjoyable start line for both me and my dog. My very first trial my dog got up and began the course before I was ready and that entire run I was trying to steer and control from behind. It wasn’t a fun experience! Worse yet, that created a behavior pattern that my dog, from that moment on, thought it was okay to not do her sit stays.Needless to say, it took me years to try to undo that. If you’re just beginning to train your dog, I want you to commit 100% that a start line stay is just as important as training the obstacles. I want you to see it as the very first obstacle, before you even begin your agility course. Having a dog come off the start line before you’re ready is very much like going to a baseball game. You’ve gone, you’ve got your hot dog. You’ve got your soda. You’re walking back to your seat and there’s a fly ball coming. You have a decision to make.Do you drop the hot dog? Do you drop the soda? Do you drop both of them to catch it or do you hang on to those and let the ball hit you? It’s not a fun decision to make in the moment when you’re under pressure and stress. For those of you that may not have a start line stay that’s so great, it’s not hopeless. You can definitely change this. The first step is you’re going to need to commit to no longer managing the current start line that you have. I tried to manage it and I tried to manage her, versus just training the sit-stay at the start line.Now granted, in the moment I didn’t realize that I was managing and just simply coping and reacting. I really thought that I was doing the right things. As it turned out I wasn’t focusing on what was in it for her and the truth of the matter is my dog really thought that she was doing the right thing. She understood that my goal was to do agility and to get out on course and well she was just fast tracking that for me and worse yet, I was letting her. Here’s the good news. My dog and I both loved agility and we loved to do the obstacles.Here’s the bad news. I had failed to create the same desire for the stay at the start line. Fast forward to today and that’s what I do. I create a ton of value for a sit-stay at the start line. What that means is there are times that I’m willing to give up doing the actual obstacles to focus on rewarding my dog so heavily that she thinks the stay at the start is absolutely amazing. Here’s a video on what I do. Next, a stay at the start would not be complete without a clear and concise release word. My dog knows to remain in position until I give that release word. Let’s watch another video. Does this seem like an easy fix? Well I’m sure it does and the reason it seems easy is because I’m focusing on two specific behaviors. The sit and the release. But here’s what I’m really doing. I’m changing the perception and really focusing a spotlight on how important it is and how worthwhile it is for my dog to remain in place at the start line.I make it a game. I want my dog to stay there. They learn to get comfortable. To relax all the way through until I give that release word. I do spend a lot of quality time doing this and honestly my dogs love it. Absolutely love it. They know that this criteria is the first important step before we can go and do the obstacles on the course.Having the confidence to knowing that my dog is going to stay there until I give the released word really makes my Start lines so much easier and enjoyable for both me and my dog .