I’ve been struggling a bit with Enzo’s contacts lately, especially the aframe. At the three day trial last weekend he missed all 3 aframes plus 1 dogwalk and 1 teeter. On the second day and third day I made sure to mark his missed contacts.
After reading the Rachael Sanders article about contacts in this months Clean Run, I realized that I fall into the category of rewarding too much in practice. So all last week I stopped giving treats for his 2on-2off. Once I stopped giving him treats, then sometimes he would either not stop or stop and releases himself which he was never doing in practice before. This gave me the opportunity to mark the wrong behavior in practice.
I think this new strategy may be helping… at least for now. Even though he didn’t come to a complete stop, Enzo put three strides on the downside of the aframe both days this past weekend which he hasn’t done in competition since before USDAA nationals. He did get called on his teeter on Saturday because his front feet left before the board hit the ground and his back feet pushed the teeter down. It was a borderline performance that sometimes gets called and sometimes doesn’t. Sunday he got all of his contacts but slid off the table. He tried really hard to hang on but ended up tipping over the edge. So still no standard Q’s but at least I feel a lot better about his contacts now. Tooney had a good weekend with 3 out of 4 Q’s. She may pass up Enzo in points soon if I don’t turn things around soon.
My next step is to practice quick/early releases from contacts in practice. I will try mixing it up with having him hold them longer.
I’m also doing the ground work for using the PVC box to train running aframe. Not sure that I will actually use it on the aframe with Enzo but I’ll see how the ground work goes.