Contact Behaviour

The question was asked of me the other day.   How does one train confidence on equipment?

My initial response is that is takes time and repetition to build confidence, so perhaps it’s another question that needs to be asked.

Perhaps the question is “my dog doesn’t like doing the down side of the dog walk” what can I do to help him through this?

First you need to ask yourself some questions.

  1. Does my dog do the down part on other pieces of agility equipment?  If so, what is different about this piece?  If not, then perhaps it’s a body awareness thing and the dog doesn’t know he can use his rear feet to help brace himself as well.  And then one needs to train rear end awareness.
  2. What type of contact behaviour am I training?  Do I for this piece of equipment need to modify my expectations?   For instance, My dog Sassy has a basic 2020 for the dog walk and teeter, but a running for the a-frame.  The angles are different for each.
  3.  Is there any way that your nerves are starting to show about how this dog performs this equipment that might have some bearing on the problem?
  4. Can you lower it?
  5. Can you teach him to walk back and forth on a plank on the ground?  Can he turn in a circle while staying on the board?   Will he do so confidently?

There may be other questions to ask, but this will get you started.

Making a Small Contact Trainer

From Karen through agility-equipment yahoo group

Here are instructions for a small and cheap Contact Trainer I built
to use in my living room. Perfect for practicing our 2-on/2-offs in
the house! The dimensions are 2’x 2’when folded, and materials cost
all of $33.75 at Home Depot. Feel free to fancy up my plans in your
own way!

2 – 2’x 2′ pieces of sub-floor ($8 each, in the plywood dept.)
2 – 12″ door hinges ($5 each)
2 – eyebolts ($.50 each)
2 – s-hooks ($.25 each)
1 – 2 1/2′ piece of chain ($1.25)
1 – can of yellow spray paint ($2.50)
1 – can of blue spray paint ($2.50)

tools: screwdriver, plus a hammer-n-nail or drill to start holes
pliers to close s-hooks
time: 1 hour or less

1. lay boards flat on floor and up against each other on one edge
2. attach the two door hinges along that edge
3. attach an eyebolt to the underside of each board, 6″ up from
bottom edge and centered
4. attach chain to the eyebolts with s-hooks
5. take outside and spray paint, 10′ of yellow, 14′ of blue

There you have it!

These can also be purchased ready made. What they are good for is training contact behaviour which is really important to do. Much training is devoted to this behaviour. They are good for small backyards, in the house, and so forth. Nice for training puppies since you don’t need them to access big equipment that, being puppies, they might fall off of and hurt themselves. Mind you, an even cheaper and safer way to train contact behaviours is to use steps. Or a piece of wood that can be leaned up against different things.