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muttlycrew

2o2o Contact Help

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Alright, a little background info and I'm going to go ahead and apologize for this being lengthy. My two older dogs were taught with the 2o2o target method, where a target is on the ground at the end of the contact obstacle. For the first few weeks, a piece of food is on this target to encourage stopping. After a few weeks, the food is phased out on the target (still treat) and later, the target itself is removed.

 

Daisy-- My first agility dog, now retired BCx, had iffy contacts. She would hold them most of the time, but if she was going too fast she would blow them. She is 11.5 and retired due to health reasons. Her command was "go wait" = go in your 2o2o position and wait until released. Started training at 6 y/o

 

Punk-- My second agility dog, 2 y/o GRx, has gorgeous bulletproof contacts. It took her awhile to "get it" with the method above, and I ended up towards the end free shaping with the clicker. A bomb could go off next to her and she will not budge. For a babydog, she is just a dream. She is very serious and wants to do everything right the first time. Her command is "go wait" = go into your 2o2o and wait until released. Starting training at 6 mos old

 

Stella-- My third dog is a 1.5 y/o BC. She has been training for about 2 months now, and I still don't feel like she is "getting it". I say this because some days her contacts are great and consistent (for a beginner) and other days (the past two days we've been training) she's been blowing the DW and AF (her teeter is pretty solid). I tried the target on the ground with food, and she did do really well. She would stay in her 2o2o until released. Recently she will get the food then swing off. Then I tried free shaping and she does fine, but add in ANY speed and she just blows it. I reward her with food, as right now she can't focus with toys (mainly a ball). She understands her release word, as I use it for just about everything and have been proofing her stays and waits in other areas.

 

So...what should I do? Just keep on doing what I've been doing and understand she is a young dog and don't worry about it too much, or has anyone else had this issue and found another way to help them " get it". I will eventually be doing a running AF but for now since it is lowered, I want her to stop.

 

Her command is the same as my other dogs aka "go wait". Maybe this is what's unclear to her suddenly? Perhaps I need to change the word (she knows to "touch" a target).

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I hope this makes sense!

 

ETA: Stella seems to get everything else -- reading FC/RC's nicely, weaves are coming along beautifully, teeter/table is great...it's just the darn AF/DW.

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What works for me is a "touch" command, taught back chaining from the contact.

 

:D Thanks! Do you use "touch" to mean wait until released at the desired spot/position, or do you use a "Touch" plus a stay/wait command until released? Perhaps I need to use Touch for awhile and use a separate word that means hold the position, then one day combine the two... :rolleyes:

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No, I don't like to use more than one command. It's the same as sit. IT also means wait until I release the sit. So touch is the command as he approaches the contact, and he waits until I position myself where I want to be next and waits for the next command. So, touch until I tell you to move. I've since moved off of requiring him to actually touch (for posture reasons) but he knows that touch means stop and get ready for whatever is next.

I also clicker trained him to keep looking forward regardless of my position, as sometimes he needs to go away from me, maybe tunnel mouth on the far side of the contact.

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I'm no expert, but I think it sounds like Stella understands to touch and wait, but only when speed is introduced, she can't hold the wait. It doesn't seem like she's not getting it really, just that the speed and excitement is too much for her to be able to resist the movement. If most days she is doing it the way you want, and just recently started blowing them, it could be that she's also gaining confidence and discovering that running is way more fun that stopping. :rolleyes: If I were you, I'd just keep doing what you're doing (it obviously worked with Punk), you may go back to a refresher with the target on the ground, and reinforcing the touch and wait, then move on to obstacles at speed. Remember to be very consistent and fair in what you ask for and let her get away with, and that she's still a baby dog.

 

Oh yeah, and have fun!

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I'm no expert, but I think it sounds like Stella understands to touch and wait, but only when speed is introduced, she can't hold the wait. It doesn't seem like she's not getting it really, just that the speed and excitement is too much for her to be able to resist the movement. If most days she is doing it the way you want, and just recently started blowing them, it could be that she's also gaining confidence and discovering that running is way more fun that stopping. :D If I were you, I'd just keep doing what you're doing (it obviously worked with Punk), you may go back to a refresher with the target on the ground, and reinforcing the touch and wait, then move on to obstacles at speed. Remember to be very consistent and fair in what you ask for and let her get away with, and that she's still a baby dog.

 

Oh yeah, and have fun!

 

Thanks Paula. I never planned on having two baby dogs at the same time...just sorta happened :D :D I have to remember that Stella and Punk are two entirely different dogs. Punk wants to do it the right way -- Stella wants to do it the fun way. :rolleyes:

 

So should I be saying Touch and Wait for right now, to help reinforce what I want? I don't let either of my girls get away with much...not perfection, but I don't give in. Here's what I did with Punk when the occasionally missed contacts and when I try to do them with Stella...the outcome.

 

Plan A: I try to physically put her back on in the position I wanted(like I did for Punk, "Oops! You missed! Silly girl, here's where I wanted you to be) and she melts...literally just melts in my arms and makes it impossible for me to stand her up on the contact. I can't tell if she is scared or just throwing a tantrum.

 

Plan B: Whoops! You missed, let's try again...aka doing the whole obstacle over again, which she blows the 2nd/3rd/4th/etc time.

 

Plan C: Get on halfway and back chain to the target. Mk. Works for a few reps, then she starts blowing them or stopping way too soon (like at the beginning of the yellow).

 

Now I'm kinda at a loss. This is what makes me feel like perhaps she just isn't getting it, but then what you said makes total sense Paula. Perhaps this is just Stella being a baby dog... :D

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One thing you could do is set her up so she has to be right. You could put some gates at the bottom of the dog walk - two on each side (to keep the back feet on the board) and one in front, so she has to stop going forward. Of course, show her this set up and her her walk into it a few times so she doesn't crash into it at full speed.

 

Once she understands the setup, you could put her target down and then send her over to the target. You could c/t a couple times for her holding the position, then remove the front barrier and release.

 

This would give her the "feel" of stopping when running across the dogwalk without having to think a lot at top speed. Some dogs really struggle with that. After doing this a few times, I would move the front gate away, and then after a few more times, the two side gates.

 

It might help.

 

I would also re-backchain concurrently.

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One thing you could do is set her up so she has to be right. You could put some gates at the bottom of the dog walk - two on each side (to keep the back feet on the board) and one in front, so she has to stop going forward. Of course, show her this set up and her her walk into it a few times so she doesn't crash into it at full speed.

 

 

That's a neat idea -- I won't be back at the field til Sunday and there are some gates laying around. How far in front of the DW should the gate me? Body length, less than that, more than that...

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That's a neat idea -- I won't be back at the field til Sunday and there are some gates laying around. How far in front of the DW should the gate me? Body length, less than that, more than that...

 

I would set it up so there is room for her to comfortably do her 2 on 2 off, but not much more.

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You could put some gates at the bottom of the dog walk

 

This is what finally worked for Twig. She's a baby dog, too (17 months), and she would consistently hit the target plate at the end and then with her paws still on the plate she'd spin her butt around so she'd be looking at me waiting for the reward for touching the plate. Adding gates to the sides kept that from happening and after only a few tries she actually got it. She's now one of the best at "spot" in her (very beginning baby dog) class.

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My last two dogs have really solid contacts - one is almost 6 and never missed a contact at a trial and not in training in years, the other is barely two and not trialing very long, but so far 100% on the contacts and in training ever since he 'got it'. Here are some things I do that might help you:

 

1) Get the dog into position whichever way she'll be successful (with her probably use less speed or put the target there). I like to use a practice board for this, not the entire contact obstacle. Then have her hold position. Drop tiny bits of breat in front of her every couple of seconds. Move all around while you're doing this - so you move as she's eating the treat, that way she's less tempted to move with you and learns to ignore you moving around. Be sure your release is very clear and she doesn't get off until you release. I reward the release too, otherwise mine don't want to get off. Keep her there a good 30 seconds to a minute (load up with LOTS of treats beforehand) before each release.

 

2) As she gets better at this, make some of your movement short little jogs, for example you're a bit on her left, drop a treat, jog across in front of her to her right side. Also start going back behind her (so she's ahead of you on the contact, as if you'd fallen behind), just a tiny bit at first but work up to several steps back. It helps if you can practice your treat throwing and toss a treat under her nose from back there so she learns even with you back there, she should focus ahead.

 

3) When she's okay with you moving that far, now once you get back there, walk forward and right on past her, no stopping, no extra command, just walk right on past but only maybe a step, then immediately step back and drop more cookies. Then go back behind her again and repeat. Repeat it 3 or 4 times before releasing. Start adding extra steps, so you can walk past 5 steps, 10 steps, etc.

 

4) When she's solid with you walking past, now walk past her faster. Work up to slow jog, then finally an all out run. This is all with her already stopped in position.

 

5) Next, try walking past just a step as she comes into the position. By now you've done so much rewarding in that position that she really wants to be there anyway, and you've practiced walking past with her stationary, so chances are she'll be successful. Just do ONE step, the back and reward. Repeat several times with her moving into position as you continue walking (again no command, no pause, no extra help, just walk). Work up to walking past several steps. Then a jog, then a run. If she ever seems really confused at some point, just put a treat down there as a target a couple of times to show her what you want, then try again without it (remember, you're still coming back and giving her multiple treats for being in position). Oh, and I usually do this part when they're puppies with just one 6 or 10 ft board propped on a table or a block of wood, not the whole obstacle (makes it easier for me to get there and less stress on the dog's body than repeating the whole obstacle). My final stage of the 'board' phase of training is when the dog can go ripping into a tunnel, come blasting out and over the practice board while I run as fast as I can 10-20 feet past the dog, and the dog nails the contact

 

6) As she gets good at that, start using it on the whole obstacle.

 

7) An extra exercise I do on conjuction with the steps above, is I place the dog on the contact and get a hunk of soft treat in my hand (string cheese works well). My hand is mostly closed and I move it around as the dog nibbles little bits between my fingers. I gradually pull the treat away, and the dog will at some point take a step forward and back feet come off the contact. I immediately close my hand and lean into the dog, usually that will get them to back up and put their feet back on - the second the feet are back on, open your hand again and let the dog get at the treat again. They pick up very quickly, that as long as they really work to hang on with the back feet, they keep getting a treat, but as soon as back feet come off, the treat goes away. This seems to help with them keeping that 'grip' on the contact later when you're moving past and they're stopping at speed and may have a lot of weight forward - they know to WORK to keep the back feet on and and will lean back and settle in with the rear legs to stay planted.

 

If at any point in this the dogs comes off, I just say 'oops, no more cookie' and give the dog a chance to get back on. They've had such history of lots of treats that I don't have to put them back on, usually it's about all I can do to keep them off the practice board once they learn that's where they get all the good stuff.

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I dislike training a 2o2o with a target plate. Piper has amazing contacts, and I backchained them to get them. Her 2o2o has a command and she had to hold it until she's released - she perfected it long before she touched a contact obstacle, at speed, on stairs and boards.

 

They deteriorated somewhat when she got really fast but I just went back and reinforced them - I paused at the bottom when she got into position and then I took off again. If she held it, she got a food reward and praise. If she didn't she got a "too bad" and I put her back on the contact and repeated until she held her position. It didn't take very long - now her contacts are dead solid and I can run right past her and she won't move until her release command.

 

I didn't like the target plate because it feels like an unnecessary step that has to be phased out, and the dogs seem to self reward (touch the plate) and then swing off the contact. I also made a point of reward from the side, not the front, when she held her contact position, so she isn't looking to get rewarded in the "face front" position.

 

I also didn't like the results I saw in gates because I saw dogs slow down in anticipation of a physical barrier being in the way. I want fast contact obstacles and the dog to put itself in the 2o2o position, no slowing down. I hate seeing dogs crawl down obstacles because they don't understand the criteria at the bottom. I made sure Piper understood the criteria *before* she got on a contact obstacle. At our last trial she went 4/5 with all first places, perfect contacts in every run, and got herself into Masters.

 

Tweed, otoh, I retrained 2o2o without backchaining and he tends to slow down at the bottom. Dexter already has a 2o2o off contacts and is doing really well. He will periodically put himself into position randomly around the house and I try to reward it when I catch it ;-)

 

RDM

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I will try to play around with some of these this week to see what method works for her. I really didn't like using the whole food on the target for my first dog, as I feel that is what gave her iffy contacts. She would creep down the contacts since she wasn't sure what the criteria was, or would blow it all together. What has worked beautifully for Punk (she's 1/2 golden) may not work for Stella as they are two entirely different dogs.

 

I do like the idea of free shaping which is why I tried it, but she still wasn't getting it. I will try the gates. If that doesn't help, I'll go back to just working on free shaping and back chaining. We are in no rush, it's just different going between multiple (and baby!) dogs. :rolleyes:

 

Thanks!

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I've had more luck with my guys with NOT using a target for most of the training. I think when there's always the target, the dog is thinking about the target and less aware of what their bodies are doing and where they are in relation to the actual contact. The very early stages of training is basically free shaping to get on the board and get into 2on2off, them from there I just reward a lot for being in position. If you reward frequently it has the same effect as a target, the dog will continue to focus on that spot where the treat will appear, but they don't have to see it there ahead of time to know what to do. A dog like yours who already has some history on contacts, I'd do as I stated in my last post, just get them on in the correct position whichever way will work for them (including a target if that's what they're used to). Then get rid of the target as soon as you get in a few sessions of the frequent rewards. The only place I use a target is later in training when I'm hanging back or working lateral distance, I put out a target occasionally (or even just a treat on the ground ahead of time) so they come down all the way straight, otherwise our first few attempts they might want to put their feet off to the side. I've never had a problem with creeping since the target or placed treat is so rarely used that it's just a surprise for them sometimes, not something that their behavior is dependent on. I think dogs who creep get so used to it always being there that maybe they're think they're wrong when it's not there, or as I said, they were so focused on the target that when it's gone they don't really know what to do and so become very unsure.

 

The MOST important thing I found for maintaining the contacts is to be very consistent on the release. Do not release on movement, do not ever release early, and do not accept the dog self-releasing at any time, even if it's when you inhale to give the release command and you were about to let them off anyway.

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Stella had a brain today!!

 

Took Stella to the field this morning to work on contacts. I did a combination of gates and backchaining. I could only find 2 gates, so used them to put on either side of the yellow contact zone on the DW. I back chained and had her offer me a 2o2o, without a target down. C/T using yummy string cheese. Walked around her, making sure to treat on the side. Walked a few steps behind her, C/T for facing straight (not that she really had a choice with the gates on either side). Worked up to walking quickly past her without saying anything, C/T for holding her contact. She never broke it.

 

Moved on to doing the whole DW and she nailed it every time except once -- I don't think I had the gates up far enough and she stopped then swung off to look at me (I'm behind her 80% of the time as I just can't run that quick). I moved the gates up and she didn't swing off again. After a good 10 reps I started to move the gates further away, then got rid of them. Tons of successful reps, even with me running past her! :D

 

The last few reps I added in the tunnel and made her go across the DW the opposite way and she NAILED IT! No creeping down, no hesitating, no swinging off to look at me...gorgeous! :rolleyes:

 

After the DW we spent 5-6 reps on the AF. It was incredibly humid out this morning. She did a lot better than the last time. Did some back chaining then did full reps. She held her contact nicely, but I could see in some of the reps she isn't totally straight. Can I add the gates to the AF to get her to come down straight...or is there another method I should try?

 

Teeter is still great, though I practiced racing her then running past her. She held her position. :D Will try to fit in another session tomorrow or Tues, provided these storms blow through quickly. Thanks so much for everyone's input -- I think we may have found a way that works for Stella!!

 

ETA: I used the word "touch" today....stayed away from "Wait", as I think I use that too much at home and it doesn't mean go into a 2o2o position...just means hang there for a sec. Perhaps this helped as well.

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