Each Individual exercise in IPO begins and ends with the basic position. As you read through the rule book it will mention basic position over and over again. For those of us who have been around the sport it is easy for us to forget that we often use terms that by themselves do not mean much to those that are inexperienced. To help with this I will try to clarify some things in these posts as often as I can get them done.
For Basic Position the dog sits at the left side in a straight, calm and attentive manner next to the handler with his right should blade level with the handler’s left knee. For the attentive heeling required for this sport your dog's head needs to be in a position that allows it to focus on you in order to maintain proper position. Assuming the basic position is allowed only once at the beginning of an exercise. You are permitted only one command to get your dog into Basic Position.
The handler assumes the basic position in a sporty manner. A sply-legged stance is not permitted. The handler's arms should lay naturally at their sides or the left hand may be held slightly to the outside of the dog's head. The final basic position of the previous exercise may be used as the basic position for the start of the next exercise.
Handler body help is not permitted, as this will lead to point deductions. Carrying of motivational articles or toys is not permitted. If a handler is physically handicapped and cannot correctly execute a portion of an exercise, he must bring this to the attention of the judge prior to the start of the trial. If a handicapped handler cannot heel his dog on the left side, then he may do so on the right side.
You will always start and end each obedience exercise in Basic Position so it is one worth spending some time on training. Teaching your dog to always find the correct position from any angle is a challenge in itself.