This is what I work towards, if I don't have everything on this list below, I DO NOT TRAIN contacts!
- My dog is not under 6 months when I start contact training... I feel that I want to bond with my puppy first, and have a good working relationship before I train anything serious with the pup.
- My pup must KNOW how to play, and be SUPER enthusiastic about anything that I ask her to do.
- I have 100% focus - and by that I mean my pup must 'drive' to be with me, so toys and reward types are very important here, as well as a good recall and retrieve.
- I decide on a method and stick to it - no changing methods halfway through because something is not working - rather go back and retrain the same method!
- I break down my method into all its individual parts, and train each one separately until it is brilliant - the pup does not even know that she is in training (the parts of the performance are so simple!)
- I clicker EVERYTHING so there is no misunderstanding! And training aids, if I need them, are brought in, but only in the early stages of working each part. I fade these as soon as my dog has understood the requirements, and bring them back briefly later if I need to!
- I never EVER discipline a dog on any contact obstacle, NEVER raise my voice on a contact obstacle, NEVER correct an incorrect behaviour by reprimanding a dog on a contact obstacle. It is a happy place and the dog MUST feel GREAT being there.
- Any incorrect behaviour is gently corrected followed by a reward for the correct behaviour. Severely incorrect behaviour is ignored and I simply try again.
- I try to be as consistent as possible. Inconsistency leads to the breakdown of behaviours, and accepting less that you want will result in not-so-good contacts. My frame of mind is also a huge factor - I must be in a great mood when I train contacts :)
Aim for confidence and full understanding, and you should have great contacts!