Forward Focus at the Start Line

A one minute video about the advantages of training Forward Focus for start lines in agility. Although I initially trained this behavior for Freestyle, I often ask for it at the start line while waiting for the judge to say Good Luck.

It’s also great for proofing start line stays because many dogs break their stay as soon as they look down the first line of obstacles and anticipate being released.  I see it as a great test of impulse control:  Can my dogs look down a line of obstacles in front of them, while I lead out… yet continue to wait until released.


2 thoughts on “Forward Focus at the Start Line

  1. Dev, how did you initially train this? With a toy? or just capturing the second she looked away? Do you always just reward immediately or do you release to the obstacle or a toy?P.S. I think I need to retire in Colorado. The hiking looks spectacular!

  2. If you type “forward focus” in the search field of my blog, you will see links to videos from early sessions (December 2013). Both dogs picked up the skill very quickly. Most of the time I released them forward to the reward and I still release them far more than reward in position. I tend to reward Lil with food (over her head) when I’m asking her to hold her gaze forward when there is nothing to look at and if she is standing in front of me, between my feet, or in heel position but I also mix in releases in those circumstances to keep her guessing. Plus I think adding motion makes the game a lot more fun for dogs.

    BTW–I think it is anti-intuitive for dogs to gaze away from their handler… into space.. with nothing to focus on. The expression on Lil’s face demonstrates (to me at least) that she is performing the behavior but it looks very artificial.. as it should. I think its like when a photographer asks a human to gaze out into space and think about X, Y or Z… but with Lil, I can’t ask her to think about anything in particular and as a result it looks (to me) like she is thinking “when is a reward going to appear?” or “when am I going to be released forward?”

    Jake will look forward but will not hold his gaze very long unless there is SOMETHING to look at. He might be a more typical dog in this regard. 🙂 Delaying throwing the ball or kibble helped build duration. Having a known obstacle out in front also makes it a lot easier for Jake to focus forward but he still tends to want to look at me. Maybe cuz he has been doing that for 7 years though. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s