Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bud Houston's "Truth About Running Contacts"

Here's a MUST-READ post from the legendary Bud Houston: AKC, USDAA, TDAA judge, the founding editor of Clean Run (still a contributor) and proponent of all things dog sport. His topic is "The Truth about Running Contacts" and it can (and should) be read here:

I have (had) "running" contacts with Murphy - I use the quotes here not because of training so much as drive. Murph never came up and over an a-frame with the power that Teller has - which made it possible for me to "manage" his contacts pretty effectively his entire agility career.

Teller's contacts have been so difficult to proof. My original decision (when he was a wee-lad) was to let him run them - I proofed running contacts, I did a zillion reps of running a-frames - and while I had beautiful 2-hit a-frames in training, I had super power-ful one hit a-frames in trial - it just wasn't working with any consistency and I didn't feel like I could rely on being in a position to effectively manage his a-frame contact EVERY SINGLE TIME.

So I went back and taught a 2o/2o on the a-frame and the dogwalk. We're getting there - I'm still proofing, I'm taking our contacts on the road a lot this month (as much as "on the road" can be done in Vermont in December). We'll see. I'm pretty sure that if we saw Bud's setup at our next trial it could go either way for us - though I'd give it an 80% now vs a 0% 4 months ago...

All that being said - I've seen some phenomenal running contacts (on sheltie-sized and larger dogs) that were truly naturally strided, completely independent from the handler and where the dog's criteria was absolutely understood. It was a joy to watch in real-life. But, like anything else you've got to train for independence - and it's not at all the same as a managed running contact - or a managed stopped contact for that matter....

1 comment:

Kristine said...

I think it definitely depends on the dog and his style. I could never have a running contact with Shiva because she is simply too fast. Proofing that would be a gigantic task and even then I don't think it would happen. The 2o/2o method has been beautiful for us however and I am proud of her contacts. They are our best obstacles at this point. Not only does she nail it every time, but her waiting at the bottom for release gives me half a chance to catch up with her!

Contacts and rear-crosses, I couldn't do agility without them!