For the past year and a half, my Doberman Lucas, has been struggling with anal gland issues. These issues have been steadily getting worse. For example, after yelping at his rear end in practice and breaking his start line stay, I took him to the vet to have his anal glands expressed. The anal glands were impacted and his entire rear end was very sore.
Five days later, Lucas had a sleepless night, standing and pacing. Having not ever seen Lucas act this way before, I was very concerned. Honestly, I thought he had bloat. After taking him to a different vet. for a full evaluation, the prognosis again was impacted anal glands.
Lucas' History With The Start Line
In the beginning (novice level) of Lucas' agility career he did not have a problem with his start line stay.
Months later (open level), he started to have concerns with the dogs standing behind him, resulting in him breaking the start line stay. He would run around the jump to be with me. After working on this problem, he developed confidence and was holding his start line stay.
Sometime, after moving up to the Excellent level, his anal gland problem started and his start line stay was off and on. (More off than on)
Wanting to fix this problem, I started implementing the popular start line solutions and games. I religiously walked him off the course in trials and practice if he broke his start line stay. The result, still Lucas was still breaking his start line stay. (We walked off more courses in 2010 than we ran)
My Light Bulb Moment
After watching Lucas break his "sit" start line stay, yelping and looking at his rear end last week, I realized, his anal gland problem and sore rear end, could very likely be a large contributing factor to why Lucas breaks most of his start line stays.
In practice, I have started putting Lucas in a "down" at the start line. So far, Lucas has held a solid down until his release cue is given. Could it be that simple? I think the true test will be in a trial setting.
Look for part two of "Getting To The Bottom Of My Dog's Start Line Stay, Literally" in mid March after our first trial of the year.
Note: Although Lucas' anal gland problem is painful at times, he has not exhibited any pain or discomfort running a course or playing. In fact, he is eager, happy, and energetic during his physical activity.