Phase 0: Get organized for contact training

Many competition performance issues arise from skipping this step in your understanding of what you need to train and how you are going to go about it.

It doesn’t take long to get organized when you have some help thinking it through.

1. Identify What You Need to Train

This worksheet shows the relationship between criteria and foundation skills. You should build this picture for each of your contact obstacles to ensure you don’t accidentally miss any foundation skills and end up building your competition performance on a weak foundation.

Many competition performance issues arise from skipping this step in your understanding of what you need to train.

Taking the A-frame as an example, I have listed the overall criteria for a typical A-frame in upper left box. Then, taking just one of the criterion “square up for approach”, I have identified in the second level box what I need to have in order to train efficiently and effectively, for example, I need a willing dog.

click here for a pdf version of this graphic

Step 2: Break it Down Again to Identify Foundation Skills

When I think about a willing dog and what that means, I now identify 5 critical skills that my dog needs - and these are the foundation skills I need. If my dog has sufficient understanding via obedience training or real-life - great! If my dog does not, then I need to train these things first, else I risk compromising my ability to efficiently and effectively train what I do want.

For example, if my dog does not understand how to try things for a chance to earn reinforcement, then I will have to either lure them, or bribe them, or beg them, or force them, to learn and try. This in turn will limit the training options I have for teaching. I may end up with a dog who is less willing to perform, or who doesn’t know how to decide to perform when given the choice in competition, or who is hesitant or slow, or who is dependent on me to lure, bribe or coerce them into performing.

Step 3: Build Confidence in Your Training Strategy

There are two main things that will help you build confidence in your training strategy:

1) be comfortable with an overall approach to training,

reference the article on a good training approach

2) practice on behaviors that aren’t critical to your agility, but similar enough to build your confidence.
 reference the article on get off equipment

Step 4: Practice Your Training Strategy

OK, lets go practice, see the “Get Started” page!

click here for a pdf of this article.