Well, I read Rachael Sander’s contact article in Clean Run last month and she mentioned that one of the reasons dogs will be good in practice and then miss contacts in competition is when you reward contacts too much in practice. So the past few weeks I’ve been having Enzo practice contacts without rewarding him with food at the bottom. I had thought about doing this before but was worried it might actually degrade his contact performance. It does cause him to run off in practice on occasion now, but that gives me the opportunity to mark it and have him try again. I’m also starting to mix in some early releases in practice.
Overall it seems to be working. Saturday he ran off through dogwalk contact without any thought of stopping so I marked it with a hey and had him wait for a second. I think that got him a little worried because he ended creeping down the aframe while looking back at the judge. The judge was raising his arms for a knocked bar so that may have been part of his worries. He actually came to a full 2on/2off stop though! I praised him really excitedly. Maybe he was worried the judge was going to get him if he didn’t do what he was supposed to like he used to do with the instructor in herding.
Sunday, he was still a little slower on the contacts than normal but not anywhere near as bad as the aframe on Saturday. He didn’t quite stop but he was at least coming all the way down.
Both Tooney and Enzo were 3 for 4 this past weekend which is great. Enzo got 3rd in JWW on Saturday, 1st in JWW on Sunday, 2nd in standard. Tooney got 1st in Standard! She is really rocking standard courses lately with her running dogwalk. Enzo fell out of the top 5 for the invitational this past week so hopefully we have gotten to the point where we can start Qing in Standard consistently again. Hopefully by AKC nationals we will have figured it all out to get his speed is up to where it should be while still running clean! We were there back in June and July of this year!