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Helloooo everyone!

So both my guys are enrolled in H360 and we are doing a lot of flatwork foundation stuff and both of them are coming along quite nicely.

H360 obviously just focuses on the actual handling and does not do any equipment training (kind of, but not really). With that in mind, I have a question about contact training. I'm due for another CleanRun shopping spree, and while I've already put SG's 2x2 Weave Training in there, I don't know if I want to get Rachel Sander's 2o2o or if I want to go get Silvia Trkman's Running Contacts. I recognize RCs are much harder to teach and require way more work, but I do seem to have nothing but free time currently, so no real issue with the time required.

My one concern with RC is drive. Both of my guys LOVE to run and I'm concerned that is going to translate to flying off the end of the dogwalk or frame.

Thoughts? :)
 
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When I first started I thought I wanted to do running contacts, and I started Roxie with runnings, only to find out that I could by no means keep up.

The thing with running is it makes it really difficult for you to be in front of your dog, especially with a really FAST dog. Roxie is long and lean and has a massive stride, so, even if I ran the fastest I could, I was never fast enough to beat her to the end of the obstacle (Dog walks are so long, they get momentum, and A-frames, she loves so much she flys right over them). Because she was so much faster then me, it left me behind my dog a lot, and that's not really a place you want to be. It left me having to be a more reactive trainer versus a proactive trainer.

2o2o really help me with having some slow down, it allows me to be able to get in a better place for my handling (there have been moments where I have had the ability to get a difficult front in because she has 2o2o). Also, 2o2o can be quick like runnings if you give the release word as soon as they hit their contacts.

While runnings may seem like you'll get a faster run, you have to be really confident in your handling and your ability to think on your toes, because you dog is moving, and quickly. 2o2o may seem like you are going to be running a slower course, but really, you'll have the opportunity to handle better, shaving off time that way. Plus, less chance of blowing a contact.
@agilityk9trainer, If I remember correctly, you do 2o2o right?
 
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I have done 2o/2o for years (btw - no shoulder injuries..taught correctly, it is pretty safe). Here's what I tell my students.

Running contact have the pros of being fast, furious and POSSIBLY a tad bit safer. I say possibly because the number of reps you have to have to teach a TRUE running contact is ENORMOUS. A TRUE running contact is harder on the dog than a 2o/2o.

When I say a "TRUE" running contact, I mean the type you are looking to do. A method that has TRUE criteria the dog can understand. Not just, "Slow down and hit the yellow." The dog has no clue what that means, and you wind up with a "managed" running contact, meaning you HAVE to physically be at the contact to slow the dog or even point the dog into the yellow. A true running contact has criteria the dog can understand. For instance, the dog can learn "2 hits, shorten the stride for the last hit" taking the dog into the yellow with that criteria. Trykman's method teaches a TRUE running contact. Almost ALL running contacts in the US are managed running contacts. Almost ALL 2o/2o contacts in the US are managed 2o/2os too. :) You know you have criteria if your dog hits the contact 99.8 percent of the time without you needing to be present. (ie. will your dog hit the contact with you 30 feet away laterally, to the front or to the back). Another pro to running contacts is that if you wish to be on the World Team or compete Internationally, the RC can really help. You CAN do these things and WIN with a well trained quick release 2o/2o, but the RC does give a slight edge internationally. If you aren't going to compete internationally or be competitive at Nationals, then this may not be your bag.

The cons to running contacts are less reliability (you can get a 100 percent 2o/2o contact, but will always have a few fly offs with even a great running contact), no static contact at the end to help you get to position for the next section of the course, to have a TRUE running contact you have to own the equipment to train daily (with a 2o/2o, I train on a low board and do very few reps on equipment making it easier on the dog's body), you have to be prepared to train for 100s of hours, it is FAST.

When I have a new team come to me, I examine the team as a whole. Is the handler fast? Is the dog fast? Is the dog small? Is the dog drivey? Is the dog slow? Is the handler young? Is the handler REALLY motivated to train? Does the handler have experience in agility? Does the handler have experience in training (ie high level titles in obedience or other sport)? What is the dog's structure?

When a team has an experienced handler with agility experience who is also young and very athletic with a fast dog with loads of drive, I will give them the option of a running contact, explaining the pros and cons. If the team has World Team aspirations, we really look into the RC as the best option. If the dog has structure issues, we look into a true RC - but generally we look into a managed RC with the understanding that the handler MUST be present at the bottom to help the dog find the yellow with some physical cue (usually a combo of forward motion, hand signals and voice) and the understanding that it will be less reliable. We do a "managed" contact because it requires the least amount of reps on the equipment, helping keep injury at bay for these dogs with structure issues. I do not recommend 2o/2o or other static contacts for dogs with structure issues. I also have recommended running contacts for slow dogs or smaller dogs who are very likely to naturally stride into the yellow.

I recommend the 2o/2o or other static contact to teams with one or more of the following: an inexperienced handler, a slow handler, a handler with troubles understanding training methods (ie. clickers, etc.), handlers who don't own the equipment, dogs who have sound structure, dogs who are highly drivey ad thus likely to blow a contact, etc. Most of my new students start with a 2o/2o.

Think hard (as you are) about which poison you will be training. Then, train it. Stick to it. Most people give up on running contacts because a TRUE running contact is so hard to train. This is bad because then the dog really has NO CLUE what so ever what to do at the end contacts. Retraining is NEVER has solid as training correctly from the start.

For me, I always choose a 2o/2o contact. I am a physically limited handler who runs fast dogs (over 6 yps in JWW). The 2o/2o works well for my teams because it allows me to get into position to easily handle other sections of the course.

One more con to running contacts. Because they take SO LONG to train properly, I see a lot of teams get running contacts, but they have ignored all the other aspects of agility training in their search for the RC. These teams are woefully behind, and it is frustrating to watch the dogs confidence fail as they don't understand handling. They do understand contacts, but contacts are only a tiny bit of the sport.

So, are you healthy? Are you young? Have you trained to titles in other sports? Are you truly read for the cons of a running contact? Do you have international or national aspirations? If so, go for it. If not, then stick to the tried and true 2o/2o. (Which, btw, is actually very seldom trained well either, but does work better as a "managed" contact than a "managed" running contact.) :)

Here is my boy doing some 2o/2o with a static hold or a quick release. You can see we waste a few seconds doing this, BUT I get into position for the Q. Instead of 1st in Standard, we may get 3rd because of this, BUT we get our blue ribbons in JWW. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDAJ789tdts
 

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I train the 2o/2o. I intially selected this method because I was worried that my large dogs would have trouble doing a proper running contact because they have huge strides. I am glad I selected this method because realistically, I feel like I don't have the skill, knowledge, or experience to properly teach a running contact. (The dogs I have now are my first agility dogs.)

It's worked well for us. My dogs rarely miss a contact. I prefer to have a steadier run where I'm more likely to Q than speedy runs that may be inconsistent or even reckless.
 

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Abby has 2o2o for all contact equipment. She's a slower dog and could probably have running contacts with no issue, but it just helps having stopped contacts so I can get into position without an issue.

Karma would def need stopped contacts. She's a speed demon and it would give me a chance to catch up/get into position to handle the next obstacle etc.

I was originally worried about shoulder injuries especially with a fast dog, but so far haven't had any issues and I'm sure if trained correctly the liklihood of injury would lessen...
 
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