Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sit or Stand?

Yes, to have your dog sit or stand at the start line for an agility run, is the question. It seems kind of trivial until you really think about it. It can really help or hinder depending on your dog. If you have a dog who may try and cheat and start before you release them, having them in a sit or even a down could give you an added second or two to adjust to the fact that your dog has just started the timer! Or maybe they're even less likely to break their stay if they're in a sit.

Having your dog stand at the start kind of has them ready for motion. It's one less obstacle, so to speak, in their way for starting the course. If your dog is getting a little tired, it's warm out, or they're less motivated, a standing stay may be the way to go.

I've been thinking about this more specifically this weekend. As with many things, I handle my dogs differently. I've decided that having Heffner in a standing stay really works better for him (I used to always put him into a sit stay). He's not prone to breaking his start line stay and he just seems to perform better from the standing position.

With Bess, I definitely get her started in a sit stay. She is really good at holding her stays, so I'm not concerned about her breaking. What I do want is a little more delay with her so that she doesn't just go tearing around the course without me!LOL It also seems to make her think a little bit more and focus a little more on me.

That's just my two cents! Anyone else have some pearls of wisdom for how they handle their dog(s)?

I also have to brag a little bit about Heffner tonight at his agility class.:O) He's doing soooooo well handling working around dogs that he used to react a whole lot to! It's now rare that I ask anyone to move their dogs for fear that Heffner might fixate on them. He's working REALLY well in really close proximity to other dogs. He acts as though they're really not worth his time to pay attention to. This is a HUGE change!! He was even better at the trial as well. Acting like he really didn't care about all the other dogs around him. He just did his thing and that was that!


Shana said...

Interesting topic! My trainer actually recommended we do a down stay, saying it was quicker for the dog to come up from a down than a sit. Of course, this assumes you have a dog that can go from a stand to a full drop to the ground down, and then back to a stand. Pixie can and will do this on her own. She does the perfect flat down and she's fast about it. She pops right up like a Jack in the Box and can burst into a full on run in a nanosecond.

Mars on the other hand is very slow to down and back up. He's also twice as big. I'm curious to get your thoughts Lindsay, because I know you've worked on downs and stays with your guys more than I have with Mars (which could be why he's slow, he's just not terribly motivated to do it). Do yours drop to a down from a stand quickly or are they slowed down by their size? Pixie isn't exactly the best Dane to compare other Danes to, given her sighthound build.

Back to what my trainer was saying, but she basically said a down can go straight up to a stand and moving forward in a flawless motion, where going from a sit requires the butt to come up before the front legs can go forward. When Pixie, for example, is in a down (the straight folded down into a Sphinx position) she can stand and move a front paw forward into a step in almost one motion. When she's about halfway up she can start going forward, whereas she'd have to wait until mostly up from a sit before going forward. Does that even make sense?

Sounds like something worth timing - dog from sit to first obstacle, and down to first obstacle. The stand stay would probably be the fastest though.

On a side note, wouldn't it be nice if the giant dogs could do a stand stay on the pause table? I'm sure most of our giant dog pause table issues come from the table being too dang small, even for Pixie! Her little butt hangs off the end if we don't down diagonally!

Shana said...

Oh, I should add, from a down, the dog can almost launch themselves forward in a leap using their rear legs, which isn't exactly possible from a sit. I think, if I remember correctly, that was my instructors other point.

Lindsay said...

Both dogs are kind of inbetween on their speed of dropping. I always try to orient them diagonally, but do practice downing them at different positions on the table. Bess is more particular about how she's positioned on the table than Heffner. He's had his butt almost falling off before, but held the stay. I can't remember what venue it is, but there are some trials where the judge can ask for a stand stay on the table. So it's not totally out there!:O)

Kennedy said...

I'm still torn on this one. Vegas has an amazing situational stay. :) When she wants to, she will. Mostly her stay is incredible at home. She can do it in class in various situations but she gets antsy. I usually try to sit her now because a down will be impossible and I'm mentally trying to get her to associate the sit with staying put. We'll see how it goes...still a work in progress. We start our competition level classes in a couple weeks with another instructor. Hopefully she'll have some tidbits of wisdom.