Home > Agility, Agility foundation training > More on contacts and directionals

More on contacts and directionals

First of all, anyone reading this may wonder why I did not simply call this blog “Krypto’s training adventures”. Well, I must say that there is not much to say about Pongo, he is quite steady, knows his job well, but shuts down in competition, and becomes very slow. So nothing much to say about his training. The only challenge we have is speed in competition, and since I have no clue how to fix this “little” issue, I have nothing much to say about Pongo’s training. But I reserve the option to do so if ever we get a major breakthrough!

As far as Krypto is concerned, soon after the adrenaline from our first trial wore off, I realized that we have so much work to do! Yep! I made a list and it keeps growing:

  • left and right on obstacles
  • fast down ramps for DW and AF
  • go to table from 20-30 feet and more
  • difficult weave entries
  • enter the weaves when propelling out of a tunnel
  • tunnel end discrimination
  • go to weaves from table
  • rear cross proofing

and I am sure I have forgot some.

Today we went to Dogz CSC and worked on contacts, directionals, and table so on the first three points above.


I had already worked on point one before today, with no success. First of all, Krypto knew left and right, but since we had practiced only at home, in the living room, he first had to realize that he could do them also in an agility field. That took perhaps a couple of minutes. Then I had tried to have him go straight ahead to a jump, and once committed to the jump I had tried telling him “left” (or “right”). He had no clue what “jump…left” meant. Yet this was the method recommended to us by JB. But since not all dogs are the same, I guess the method was not understood by my dog. I had also tried helping him with my hand movement. It worked, but then I had removed the hand and my body from the picture and he was lost. We  had tried this several times, with no success.

Today I tried what Bud Houston did with his dog. Once he had the dog spinning right and left on command, he used hoops like the ones used in NADAC, and asked his dog Kory to go through the hoop, then turn left or right. At first he had to help the dog, but them Kory understood the motion associated with the cue to go right or left.

I placed my hoop on the ground and asked Krypto to go through it. Again and again. Then I added the cue “left”. And sure enough I had to help him the first time. But that was it. So now we are at the point where he can go through a hoop and turn left or right on command. I tried placing jumps on the left and right of the hoop, but I think this was too much for him. Actually I believe he was patterning so at one point he stopped listening to the cue, and just assumed I wanted him to jump left just because I had been asking him another couple of times before.

Conclusion: more practice with the “hoop – left/right” before placing obstacles in his path!


We have been struggling with lack of speed in the down ramp of the DW. And now also the AF. I tried many different approaches, but the reality is that if I am not there running next to him, Krypto is not sure of what to do and slows down in the down ramps. Not that this would be an issue in terms of time in competition. He is so fast that this would not prevent us from qualifying. But it is not the obstacle performance I want from my dog. Good thing is that ha know that “A-Frame” means to run to the 2on 2 off position. Same for “walk”. So I will not need to tell him “target” or “touch” or “spot” or whatever, but just the obstacle’s name.

As I cannot be there with him all the time, I decided to try again the “magic” hoop. After all, he is used to running through it. I used the large hoop I had built when I had taken a couple of private lessons with FW, placed it at the end of the descending ramp of the DW, placed a target there as well and some treats on the target. I wanted Krypto to drive to the hoop, but still stop in a 2 on 2 off position. We did a couple of repetitions like this at the end of the contact, and he knew what to do. So I removed the target. And we did the whole obstacle. He kept coming down at a good speed. So I tried to have him revved up by running a couple of jumps and tunnels before the DW. He was fast. Not perfect, but fast. I was perhaps 4 feet away, laterally, from the DW. I stopped on this good note. But we need to work more on this so that I can be 20-30 feet away.

Then we did the same with the AF. I skipped the target/hoop and just placed the hoop. I think his performance was pretty much the same of the DW. Faster than without the hoop, bit still dependent on my position.

I think I need to proceed with baby steps here and get speed with me near the contact, then start moving away, one foot at a time. I am sure he will get it and at one point a distance from me of 10 feet or 20 or 30 will not bother him at all.


The table is boring, let’s admit it. And yesterday SM realized that Krypto is used to me being nearby when I send him to the table. Maybe 10 feet away. So today I started backing up. 15 feet, then 20, then 25. So far so good. It was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, but it is just a matter of adding value to going to the table from far away. Next step is to place the table in the middle of a course, and send him to it from within a sequence of jumps, or jumps and tunnels, or weaves and so on.

The table does not really worry me as much as the contacts or directionals do. Today it seemed fairly straightforward to send Krypto from farther and farther away, even if at first he did not want to go and would lie down beside it!!

And now, we are back home, the dogs are dead tired, and I need to hang my laundry to dry before going out.

  1. Lisa
    May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I’m always so impressed by the detail and planning you put towards your training time. Very smart! I’ve no doubt that you and Krypto will rise to the challenge of learning this new agility dance together.

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