Choosing a contact method for agility

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

(Page 1 of 2: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  
Heidi AX,AXJ- 1/26/97 - 2/28/10

My Angel
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 8:59am PST 
I have a young golden (1 yr old) and I'm looking at my options for training her contacts. Lots of new options since I retired my last dog (8 yrs ago). Can anyone point me to a discussion of the pros and cons of the different methods or towards a website that discusses this? Years ago I trained the 2on2off method but I've heard some say it's hard on their elbows. Not sure that's a real concern or not. I'm looking to learn more about all the options.

MACH4 PACH2- Aslan

Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 12:32pm PST 
Ahhh. Contacts.

IMO, a well trained 2o/2o isn't hard on the shoulders. If the dog rocks back, then there's limited stress. Right now, people are focusing more on the up side of the contacts - especially the A frame - for shoulder injuries. Slamming (or splatting as we call it here) into the A frame is more of a concern to me.

If you are looking to compete at a high level (National finals, World Team), then you HAVE to have running contacts - at least on the A frame. If you are looking to compete at a lower level, I suggest 2o/2o with a rock back.

You can, however, have your cake and eat it too. Aslan has a 2o/2o AND running contacts, depending on what I ask for as he enters the contact equipment. I don't ask for the running contact very often, but do when speed counts. I plan on eventually training Asher to the 2 trick system too. The dog just looks at it as two different tricks on the A frame or the dogwalk.

I also trained Asher's 2o/2o with more of a 1RTO idea. He sure does understand the concept, even if enthusiasm causes him to miss the contact occasionally. smile

I don't have time to write more. As someone once said, with contacts - choose your poison. Each has their big down side and a strong up side.

I'm your new- best friend! Pet- me!
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 1:48pm PST 
I know many others will disagree with me...but anyway...

When I started training Mya in agility, I planned on doing a 2o/2o because that was the method I was the most familiar with. After talking to my vet, he recommended that you should NOT do a 20/20 because of shoulder injuries. He's seen dogs that have injured shoulders from doing a 2o/2o because to hold a position like that with the front legs out so straight isn't natural for the dog and stretches the muscles wrong. Maybe it would be better if the dog rocked back their weight, but I don't want to take that risk with Mya after talking to him. I know many people use it to catch up to their dogs, and sometimes it can be an issue with Mya being too fast lately as she's getting better, but I've just been working on distance and would rather her work from farther away then wait for me and stop.

I use a running contact with Mya. So far, we have no "splatting" problems. I always have her start at the very bottom with the running up, so she doesn't slam into the A-frame up higher and harder. I also have her run to the very bottom each time so she doesn't hit the ground hard. She does know to slow enough to go up the frame easily, and to go down not a break neck speed but to pick up the pace at the bottom on the ground. It does somewhat slow down her pace, but I would rather she took her time and stayed safe since we are not planning on going to high competition, just mostly local, smaller events, and hopefully qualify for state 4-H competition this year and the coming (but it's not high stakes to qualify...Mya competed with 1 other dog in obedience and 2 others in showmanship last year(and took top in both), and 1 other person showed in higher levels of obedience. No other agility dogs even competed! USDAA, NADAC, AKC, etc obviously have MUCH higher standards!).

As Aslan quoted, "Pick your poison with contacts." Depending on how you train them and what level of competition/what you want for your dog, choose your own path. Running contacts work well for us and that's what I'm sticking with and the advice of my vet. I personally think it would be very hard on the dog's hips/fore legs to go quickly up the A-frame and stop quickly at the bottom in a 2o/2o, but just my opinion. smile

So there...I stuck my neck out on the chopping block! laugh out loud I'm not wanting to fight, just giving my advice!

I'm sure others will have more insight...

~Mya May MUTT! and Mom


Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 2:57pm PST 
Good question. Great advice already posted.
By default, I allowed Lily to do a running a-frame with no prescribed behavior and we have been doing well with it so far. So anything she does is good (all is rewarded, since she hasn't been taught a behavior) on the a-frame, and since she is smaller her stride is in her favor. The dog walk (DW)- we change it up. Sometimes I ask for a behavior and sometimes I ask and she hits it, but doesn't give me the stopped 2o2o. I think she prefers continuing speed, so I need to think about naming the running version. I'm pretty comfortable with her contacts so far and the choices we've made.

For Koda, I'm training a 2o2o on DW and A-Frame, since I don't know better and he would easily leap off (long legs). Also, I don't how to train or have access to adequately train a running contact, unless the dog gives the behavior. On the A-frame, Koda loses a lot of speed at the bottom and I can see him pounding on the upside already.

Does anyone know how to teach a rock back behavior for 2o2o on the aframe?
Aslan - how do you work on the splatting? Koda is already doing some of that and misjudging the a-frame angle.

In general, I think the choice depends on the size of the dog and the flexibility of their body.
MACH4 PACH2- Aslan

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.

I'm your new- best friend! Pet- me!
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 5:23pm PST 

This lady is famous for running contacts, and you can read through her website, watch videos, etc. She has World Champion dogs trained through running contacts. She compares the 2o/2o with a running. A running DOES take a lot more reps, but I fell it is worth it in the end to have a good running than a 2o/2o. She says that for a beginner, a 2o/2o may be better becuase it is easier to train.

I will agree with Asher on this subject for once on that letting a dog just run over the frame and touch the yellow when it wants is a bad idea as the dog doesn't understand the concept of touching the yellow as humans do. They can't tell that touching yellow is good/bad because it is the same to them.

If you train all the way from the start as a running contact, you train the dog to RUN and not JUMP off the end. I like using the method for Mya on the above website because it doesn't use a box or hoop at the end so the dog doesn't rely on it to touch inside of it.

Besides from talking to my vet, I choose a running contact because Mya is easily distracted when she isn't working and I believe stopping at the contact would allow her to focus on something else instead of my continuing commands.

It is up to you and your individual dog. If you have a large breed it is obviously going to be harder to train a running than a 2o/2o and you have to decide how you want to do it.

I also have an easier time doing the running contact than many people because I have equipment in my back yard. Mya uses it pretty much daily and loves seeing her invisible fence collar picked up because she knows she gets to "go Play!"

Asher, once again, agree to disagree? big grin

I'm your new- best friend! Pet- me!
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 6:13pm PST 
ETA to my above post:

I meant Aslan, not Asher. Sorry! big grin
Heidi AX,AXJ- 1/26/97 - 2/28/10

My Angel
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 7:09pm PST 
Thanks for the great response to my question. Lots of good info and many things to consider. I'm probably not going to go with the running contacts for many reasons, my young golden Summer has a lot of drive, I've lost my speed due to an injury and I'm just doing this for fun. I agree that if you want to compete at a national level, you definitely need a running contact. I'm not as concerned with the speed as much as control and keeping the dog safe from injury. So, I do want to bring her to a stop at the bottom of the A-frame. I am aware of three ways to do this so far, 2 on 2 off, sitting against the bottom of the A-frame, and a down at the bottom of the A-frame (on the ground). I have also seen what I call an Audible, where the dog is taught to do a down (at bottom) but can be released on the down side creating a running contact. It's a true running contact the dog isn't jumping off the A-frame. The lady I'm training with has taught this to her latest dog and it's the best of both worlds but requires a lot of training, no doubt. She's has MACHs on several dogs and really knows her stuff.

Any thoughts on the safest way to stop a dog at the bottom of the A-frame?

An aside, I went to an agility trial this weekend to watch and I was surprised to see how people are running teeters these days. Many were running their dogs as fast as possible on the teeter and just slamming the teeter into the ground. It just seems to me that would be pretty tough on the dog. I also notice a lot of missed contacts, very few people were running the contacts with "control" (the dogs were barely making the contacts or missing them all together). My issue with this is it just doesn't seem in the best interest of the dog. I know everyone wants a fast run, but......... anyway, JMO.

Will Work For- Food
Barked: Tue Nov 24, '09 8:33pm PST 
I won't get into the 2o2o discussion, as I am in the same camp as Aslan on this. But, I will comment on the teeter. In our classes, we train all the dogs to run to the end of the board. This is done in steps so that the dog is driving to the end of the teeter, without stopping at the tip point, but at the same time the dog is still in control on the obstacle. The tiny dogs end up at the end of the teeter well before the teeter has touched the ground and they learn to ride the teeter down. The larger dogs run to the end as well, but because of basic physics, the teeter hits the ground before they get to the end, however, they still are in control even if the teeter "slams". Actually, slamming (banging) the teeter is part of the game and fun of the teeter. Fly-offs on the teeter are what can hurt a dog but if you teach a dog to run to the end of the teeter and wait there until the teeter hits the ground, fly-offs should not happen.
Heidi AX,AXJ- 1/26/97 - 2/28/10

My Angel
Barked: Wed Nov 25, '09 4:13am PST 
Thanks Bosley for the teeter explanation. It's different from the way many trained 10 years ago, we taught them to wait/slow at the tipping point. If it's not an injury issue, than I good with it.
I've got some catching up to do laugh out loud
  (Page 1 of 2: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2