I've been thinking about the subject of lead outs a lot lately. Should you lead out, should you run with your dog, what do you do when the dog who's supposed to be sitting and anxiously waiting for their release springs into action the second you move an inch...how about the dog that sits nicely, waits until they're released only to consistenly drop the first bar....or even worse *run around the first obstacle to get to you as quick as possible*?
I'll start by saying I'm huge fan of running with your dog from the start line. It's fun!! Contrary to what many think it is a skill in itself and it does require practice to do it effectively and there are ways to get a bit ahead of your dog when starting with them. You can use a "sling shot" start where you start with the first jump *behind* you and send your dog around you and to the first jump. Since the dog will be on the outside it gives you an advantage and you can move a bit ahead as your dog's taking off for the first jump. You can ask your dog to run around you as you take off running or you can do what I do with miss Kittie, hold the dog with your hand against their chest slightly behind you and push them back gently as you start. This will help to rev up the dog too. Like in this run: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWbKoyJmCD8
Leads Outs are good too and I don't think "the dog won't stay" is ever good reason to choose to run with your dog. Run with your dog if you're fast enough to keep up with them, if they're a softer dog that will shut down if left alone or if it's a dog that really needs your oomph to get and keep them going. You should make that decision for your dog based on both of your needs.
So what to do when they don't stay? This is the one and only time I've picked a dog up and taken them off course. That is so hard to do. You wait all day for your brief moment in the ring and it's over before it starts.....of course if you're expecting your dog to stay and they break, it's probably over anyway! I took Abby off course one time. Her stay was proofed, she held 100% of the time in class, in the park, at home, at run thrus in many locations and had been holding her stay in trials as well. I could take off running in any direction, do jumping jacks, call her name or anything else and she would not self release. It only took one time, so I think it can work, but only if you know your dog really, truely understands and love, love, loves agility. I wasn't harsh with her, just "awwww, Abby what did you do that for, now you don't even get to run"
Abby did pick up a bad habit of sometimes holding her stay, but running straight past obstacles to come to me. I have no idea how to fix this one. Any ideas?? Lately I've been just doing very short lead outs and luckily the courses have been the kind where a big lead out won't help much anyway, but I want my 3 jump lead out back! She did good in class on Wednesday, so mabe I won't be a chicken at the next trial. See, she started out with a great lead out, she looks so tiny sitting all by herself! www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWkFO1kuDHk&feature=channel