April 11, 2013

Dog Agility Start Lines: the Release

Does your dog bolt through the door or gate when you go outside or to the agility field? By building value for waiting at an open door and developing a clear release cue, you can change your dog’s behavior and strengthen your start lines in the agility ring.

The video below demonstrates the quick and easy teaching for the skill:

1. Reward for waiting at the gate, slowly increasing the amount of open gate.

2. Reward for the release (I use “okay” or the dog’s name).

3. Same procedure for going back inside, don’t be lazy about this part! Failure to work on this skill in both directions will result in inconsistent behavior from your dog.

Avoid the following, due to the potential for unwanted fallout:

1. Verbally controlling your dog with a loud voice or scolding tone.

2. Swinging the door open and close rapidly, which physically threatens the safety of your dog.

Tip: If your dog bolts the door, simply with hold the reward. Your dog doesn’t just want to get through the door, he wants to get to the activity that lies beyond the door, so simply denying him this activity will eventually prompt a change in behavior. Be consistent and you will notice the change in your dog, both on and off the agility field.

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