|Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 3:44pm PST |
|Yes, the choice does depend on size. I have some small dogs who have never been taught a contact behavior because their stride takes them into the yellow. These are also less drivey dogs. These are 8" jump height or smaller dogs (AKC jump heights).
For all other dogs, I train my students to a 2o/2o unless they are more experienced. What people don't realize is that for a really well trained running contact (tiny dogs excluded), it takes FAR more repetitions and FAR more work than a 2o/2o. This is another reason so many people are experiencing injuries to the running contact dogs - the increased repetitions.
Many people think just having the dog run down into the yellow is a "trained" running contact. Unfortunately, dogs don't really understand the "yellow." A true trained running contact is currently taught with several methods. A couple to consider are the stride regulator method or the Sander's PVC box method. I've worked with both, and prefer the Rachel Sander's method.
The stride regulator method involves putting stride regulators on the equipment and "teaching" the dog to do the same stride on the A frame every time. The problem is when dogs get into competition, get confidence and then get hyped from the competition, they extend their stride and wind up bailing the contact. This is a common problem with the stride regulator method.
The stride regulator method requires many, many repetitions. I have yet to really see it be as successful as I would demand (98 percent accuracy). There is a stride regulator contact DVD out.
Rachel Sander's PVC box method is rather new. You can find the info on her method in "Clean Run" and in her DVD. I found the DVD helpful, but of course it can't answer all the questions you run into.
I currently have three students working on the PVC box method. I like it because it does give a "clear" behavior for the dog. My running contacts class has the box on a full size A frame, but we haven't faded the box yet. So far, the dogs are doing quite well and loving the system.
At this point, I'm planning on using that method when I begin to train Asher's second contact "trick" on the A frame in a year or so. Then he'll have 2o/2o or a running contact, depending on what I need.
Those are the running contact methods I have used and seen used. The method where you put a hoop at the bottom does not hold up in trial settings once the hoop is removed.
Remember - the thing about running contacts is that they WILL be good for the first part of a dog's career. Through Novice...Open...and into Excellent. Handlers then think they've got a great running contact, and are surprised when two years into the dog's career and after earning their Master's titles the contacts start falling apart.
My advice is look for advice from people who have been in the sport for a long time and have trained several dogs through their Championship level. These people have used and seen contacts fall apart and will have the best advice for you.
I have had more "experienced" students (students who have taken a dog to their Masters titles) tell me they don't want to train a 2o/2o and really are happy with their "get into the yellow" contact behavior (that they got from another school as I don't train this). They are pleased with just letting the dog get into the yellow and releasing them. I let them choose after telling them why they will regret it. They are ALWAYS disappointed. Every one. They always say they wish they had listened.
I'm not telling you to listen to me. I don't know you or your dog. But do listen to those who do know your team and have a decade of experience running their dogs or training students' dogs to a high level. They may feel due to your dog's drive (or actually, it would be lack thereof) that he is a candidate for a running contact. Then feel free to go that route.
Running contacts CAN work....IF you are willing to get the equipment and train it EVERY day. Any trainer who knows their stuff will tell you that the only reliable running contact takes TONS of repetitions vs. the 2o/2o method.
As for how to train to stop splatting, you do this with a stride regulator. I put Asher's stride regulator out about 5 feet from the A frame. This causes him to have to stride onto the low side of the yellow up contact, minimizing the splatting effect. Depending on the size of the dog will depend on where you place the stride regulator. Asher is 16.5" and VERY drivey.
I'm worried this method won't work well because just like when you remove the stride regulators from the A frame and put the dog into the hyped up atmosphere of competition, he's not going to slow his stride or put that extra stride to get up the A frame. However, I haven't heard any other training method, so we are trying to train the stride regulator.
Because Asher has a 2o/2o A frame, I can limit his A frame exposure, helping keep his joints in better condition. This is a huge plus over running contacts, IMO.
Everyone does have their own opinions on this subject. It's quite controversial. I've been interested in the latest thoughts of the up contact causing more injuries and the repetition of the running contacts causing more injuries as well. I can see the thinking behind that, and actually agree. I've never had a students' dog injured from a 2o/2o. Knock on wood.
In my state, most people train a 2o/2o (again, I know of no serious injuries related to it). In another state I compete in, hardly anyone does a 2o/2o. The number of bailed contacts is OUTRAGEOUS. We were all just floored sitting there watching one dog after another bail contacts in the Excellent level from poorly trained running contacts. I have no clue why so many people in that area have such badly trained contacts. They all seemed to be doing the "creep into the yellow" method. I know there are good instructors in the area, and am really interested to learn why there are such bad contacts in that area.
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