Training a quick and consistent contact is the goal of most agility handlers. Today the strategies employed can be summed up as 2O2O, 4 on the floor or running. Each strategy has its advantages and disadvantages. This series of articles describe and summarise my method for training the former while critiquing the method and comparing against the latter.
Agility training methods are constantly evolving. As more scientific methods (based on understanding of dog behaviours) are introduced, contacts have become quicker and more consistent.
Like most people starting with a new dog, my objective was to study the latest methods and work with a strategy which would offer highest consistency and speed, coupled with resources available. The latter was an important part of decision making. Factors such as equipment time, weather, time to train and ground conditions through the year, all play a part in what can be achieved.
Taking all the above in consideration I decided on a shaped 2O2O method with an objective of a <1.8 second (independent) dog walk. To achieve this I also set myself a goal of 16 months from beginning to 1st competition, coupled with that it would need constant refinement.
From now on I will use the Dog Walk (DW) as the example, although AF & SS remain relatively similar with minor adjustments.
There were 4 basic parts to training the DW:
- Running the planks to 90% completion
- The stop (or contact)
The next articles will describe the sequential steps in #3 as this was taught at a foundation level. #2 was introduced at 8 months, #1 at 9 months and #4 at 14 months.