Friday, January 2, 2015

The contact debate becomes the contact comparison...

My, my, it would appear that my previous post made the Facebook rounds in a moderate way... I kind of followed some of the threads around it, so here are some of my additional comments to add to the comments that have already been commented on comments I commented...

- Dave Munnings made a comment that was misinterpreted by some (he was referring to his own stress when training and I get that one!). Anyhow this interpretation led to several comments being made that handlers felt 2o2o training was 'stressful for their dogs'. Personally I have never been in a situation where I have not managed to make any form of training fun and carefree for a dog.  I can't categorically state that in all eternity there will be a 100% guarantee of this, but I really believe that if any training is stressful for your dog, you can be doing something different.  I don't think this is a valid argument for not training 2o2o, a nice excuse if you are looking for one, but not really a reason.

- There were a few references to the fact that people were teaching running contacts to 'lower drive'/'less confident' dogs because it was 'better'/'easier'/'more motivating' for them.  I have seen the complete opposite side of this.  With less confident dogs completely breaking down, because running contact criteria wasn't clear enough for them or the pressure and excitement was too much for them.  I mean it when I say that I don't think there is ANY set of rules to determine which method is best for your dog. There are just too many factors (and combinations there of) that come into play: Confidence, work ethic, ability to handle failure, build, size, drive, weight, stride size, angulation, speed, intelligence... just to mention a FEW. No-one can categorically state that either running contacts or 2o2o WILL work for a dog because of XYZ... I still believe that each dog needs to be analysed individually. Remember, failures are hardly ever published, don't judge by the amount of success stories you see on the internet. The one big secret is KNOW YOUR DOG.

- One very important factor that was highlighted was the importance of course design. Several good examples of the AWC 2014, EO 2014 and EO 2012 was brought up. And if you watched this year's AWC you can also appreciate the different exits. Please remember these examples, as I will use them in the next comment I want to make:

Small Agility courses both had  very severe turns off the dog walk:

Individual Agility:

1. Primadonna (Stopped)
2. Amiga (Running)
3. Jet (Stopped)

Team Agility:

1. Coopy (Running)
2. Inna (Stopped)
3. Eyleen (Stopped)

Medium Agility Courses, Individual had a straight-ish go round and team once again had a severe turn:

Individual Agility:

1. Kiki (Stopped)
2. Esmerelda (Running)
3. Olli (Stopped)

Team Agility:

1. Dizzy (Stopped)
2. Esmerelda (Running)
3. Curly (Stopped)

Large Agility Courses, Individual had a straight go round and team once again had a severe turn:

Individual Agility:

1. Lilli (Running)
2. Hoss (Stopped)
3. Chica (Running)

Team Agility:

1. Reav (Stopped)
2. Hoss (Stopped)
3. Elium (Stopped)

So this is only one competition and one set of results, but to me still proves that often, a course with a sharp turn after the DW will still favour stopped contacts.

-It also brings me to my next comment, with a lot of people saying that A. it is easier to teach a running contact to a Small dog and B. It is more necessary to have a running contact with a small and a medium dog.  I strongly disagree with both.  Once again it depends on a load of other factors, but I don't think the size or jump height category of your dog makes such a big difference, or more accurately the only difference. While it remains to be seen and I will take on a few students next year to test my methods, I think my way of teaching the running DW should be effective on any height dog, provided they meet a load of other criteria.  Volt is purely the only one of my current dogs that it will work on, because he is self-propelled, forward driven and confident.

Now back to my own training:

Here is the next in my series of comparison videos:

Things that I learnt today:

1.  If I have forward motion, regardless of my position with regards to Volt, he has much better running hits.

2. A badly executed turn from a running contact is pretty useless and can be beaten by a 2o2o.

3. On a straight exit, a running contact is (quite logically) pretty unbeatable (1.18 seconds in my case). However even on slight turns the margin does become less (0.56 and 0.71 for today).  You DO have to consider though, that the average difference in dog walks was only 0.451, so the actual exit increased the time gained.  It DID encourage me to work on the timing of my quick releases (WAY too late still) as well as the speed and drive off my releases for 2o2o.  I am sure I can significantly decrease this margin.

4. My dog is awesome... oh wait, I already knew that, didn't learn that today... still feel the need to share it though.

Those that follow this blog, will know that back in 2012, there was a Project A-Frame too... I started with a stopped A-Frame only. After AWC 2012, I decided to teach a running A-Frame... erm for straight exits only...

At the moment my plan is only to teach running exits in this range:

But then, that was my plan with Project A-Frame too... and I ended up teaching all turns in all directions.  In all fairness teaching turns of the A-Frame is MUCH, much, MUCH easier.

Today's experiment however DID confirm my current way of thinking that dog walk exits in that range WILL be quicker, so all is good for now.

This experiment continues (think I will do some go-rounds next), but one thing I DO wish is that people would stop being blind, blind-folded, blinkered and stupid.  By this I mean that I really want handlers and trainers to stop knocking one method OR the other and accept that both have merit. The proof is ALWAYS in the pudding and since both 2o2o and running dog walks still feature on local, national and international scenes. I don't think anyone has the right to be horrible, nasty, derogatory, evil, bitchy, negative or aggressive towards either method.

Much more importantly than 'having' running or stopped contacts, your dog (and you for that matter), should 100% understand and enjoy what they are doing.

Heehee (insert evil laugh here)... best solution is to have it all.... muhahaha, have both!  Many brilliant trainers have proven it is possible and now so has Volt... just another tool in your toolbox right...

Happy, happy, happy New year and happy training!