Date:  Mondays starting Jan. 9

Length:  Eight weeks

Cost: $40 for members, $60 for nonmembers

Recommended for: Dogs 9 months and older (Can be younger with instructor permission if goal is to do mat work and pre-contacts bodywork and conditioning.)

Prerequisites: Puppy Elementary for puppies less than one year. Or instructor permission based on puppy’s readiness and prior training. CGC for dogs older than 1 year. Your dog should understand how to work for both toys and food, and especially, how to drive forward to a target. They should be able to stay engaged with the handler off leash and with distractions. Established dog teams who wish to transfer from stopped to running contacts are also welcome.

IMPORTANT:  Enrollment in an online running contacts program OR have a mentor they are working with is highly recommended. The one I will be working with is Shape Up Running Contacts Foundation:  https://shapeupagility.com/online-lessons

Number of participants limited to 6.

Course Description:  This class is designed to be a “work group”. That means it will not be primarily an instructor-led class format. Participants will be expected to be working their own plan for early running contacts training. This course will primarily serve as an “open lab” where space and equipment will be available to work on an individualized running contacts program. The workgroup leader will act as a coordinator to set up a space/equipment plan for the class and to monitor group flow as needed.

This class is intended to be an introductory running contacts class. It is expected that a lot of the class will be OFF of the plank working on mat work, verbal cues and pre-contacts bodywork.  One dogwalk down plank will be the focus of most of this class. A low A frame and teeter can also be made available.

Materials needed: A target mat or mats (if your system uses one), Treat and Train or Manners Minder (highly recommended) or a closed target or toy your dog will drive to for reinforcement. Small, high value treats and high value toys.

Why not a class? 

Training running contacts is highly individualized to both the dog and the handler. It’s not a program of training that adapts well to a cookie cutter approach. True running contacts also require a dedicated approach and follow through, especially during the training process. This includes commitment to regular practice and attention to building the fitness, balance and coordination that the dog will need for safe, confident performance.

Are running contacts right for my team?

Running contacts can be fun to train and can be motivating and fun for the dog. They also tend to be fast. Therein lies the downside! Training and maintaining running contacts take some extra dedication on the part of the handler. 

Because the dog does not stop, you will need to teach the dog to safely make turns at verbal direction for a safe exit that is also in the direction you want the dog to go. You will not be able to stop your dog in order to set a line or avoid a wrong choice in an obstacle discrimination. Running contacts also imply that the handler needs to RUN. 

The faster your dog is relative to your running speed, the more important it will be to train verbal directionals. 

Running contacts also means you will need to maintain your dog’s level of fitness so that they have the core strength, balance and body awareness to safely and accurately drive the plank with highly accurate foot placement. 

As a handler, you will be responsible for monitoring your dog’s striding and footfalls along the plank and through the contact zone (this often involves video of training sessions) in order to make the right decisions on how to adjust your training.

That said, the only right choice is the contacts style that is right for your team. Stopped contacts are effective and relatively easier to train and can be the right choice for many, if not most, teams. 

Running contacts are the right choice if you enjoy the process of training them and have the time, dedication and desire to train them thoroughly and safely.

Questions? Feel free to contact me.