What’s It About?
In the long awaited second book by world championship medallist, Dawn Weaver, we are taught everything you need to know about contacts. Weaver shares her secrets on both stopped and running contacts, providing us with a method to teach breathtaking contacts that are effective and rewarding for both handler and dog.
The first half of the book focuses on shaped stopped contacts. Weaver provides us with fifteen reasons for using her method which include the following:
- Do not need agility equipment to teach it
- Teaches your dog to regulate his stride
- Minimises injury
- Can be taught to a puppy
Weaver then examines other contact methods such as nose touch stop contacts, placing the dog in position, luring, handling contacts and shaped position on board, discussing the various downsides of these methods.
Chapter two introduces us to the box method, and Weaver explains the equipment you will need, as well as commenting on rewards. She then looks at whether we should teach a verbal release command or a directional command, before explaining the shaping game, and how we can use it to shape 2 on 2 off contacts. Weaver continues with advice on proofing handler motion, adding run throughs and directional commands through the box, proofing agility obstacles, as well strategies to help if the handler falls behind the dog. She then shows us how to transfer from the box to a mat.
Chapter three looks at the dog walk. Weaver shows us how to transfer the mat to a dog walk, as well as once again adding handler motion, run throughs and back chaining up the ramp. We then move on to doing a whole dog walk, and Weaver takes us through raising the dog walks, reward points, proofing, troubleshooting and competition.
Chapter four continues with the A-frame, which follows a similar process to the dog walk. Weaver advises on transferring the mat to the A-frame, beginning with a lowered A-frame and then explaining how to move on to a raised A-frame, along with proofing and run throughs.
In Chapter five, we move on to the seesaw. Weaver explains that she puts all her dogs on the seesaw before the other contact equipment, so they encounter a moving plank before a static one. She begins with larger dogs, showing us how to introduce a moving plank and examining tipping points. Weaver continues with creating drive along the plank, followed by raising the plank and adding the 2 on 2 off. She then looks at troubleshooting and proofing. Weaver next offers some insights on why smaller dogs in particular can get worried by the seesaw. To remedy this, Weaver demonstrates how to shape a front foot target, showing us how to transfer the target to end of the seesaw. She then provides us with advice on building confidence at the end of the seesaw, before progressing to doing the whole seesaw, raising it and then fading the target. Also included are some tips on handling the see-saw.
Chapter six focuses on up contacts. Weaver mentions in brief the problems with the dog missing up contacts, and shows us how this can be solved by using the mat.
Part two concentrates on running contacts. Weaver explains why she believes you should teach running contacts using a mat, relating why she created the method in the first place, for her low drive poodle Chelsea, who found stopped contacts too demotivational.
Chapter two looks at the importance of verbals. Weaver then shares and explains her commands which consist of the following;
- Go On
- Right and back
- Rop and twirl- used to cue turns when a collected stride is required
- Here- to call dog away from off course obstacles
She then provides us with proofing and advanced proofing exercises for directional commands.
Chapter three moves on to teaching the hoop which Weaver uses as a reward point.
In chapter four Weaver shows us how to add a ‘go on’ to the dog walk. She covers adding an early go on as well as adding distance and proofing it by offsetting. She continues with adding an early go on with the mat and then transferring this to a flat ramp, before back chaining the ramp and then raising it to progress to a whole lowered dog walk.
Chapter five covers dog walk turns. Weaver introduces us to the following nine exercises for turns.
- Soft turns to the left
- Sharp right, sharp left turns and wraps off the dog walk.
- Three sided box game
- Tunnels galore
- ‘Out’ the backside of the jumps
- Front crosses
- Pushing off the dog walk
- Blind turns
- Proofing-off set toy
Weaver then provides us with a conclusion for the dog walk with tips and advice on maintaining the mat’s value, placement of verbal commands, handling cues and sequences, as well as troubleshooting.
We continue with running A-frames and Weaver shares her opinions on teaching a stopped dog walk and running A- frame, and a running dog walk with a stopped A-frame. After discussing the size of mat needed, Weaver takes us through the training process which is a similar structure to that of the dog walk. She gives us two foundation exercises before progressing to adding handler motion, moving the mat to the ramp, doing a whole lowered and then full height A-frame, as well as discussing turns off the A-frame.
Next, we move on to handling sequences which include; blind turns, front turns, rear crosses, serpentines, 180 degree turns off the A-frame and tunnels under the A-frame. Weaver then shares with a comprehensive troubleshooting section which covers the apex jump, foot placements, one hit on down ramp and how many strides.
Weaver then covers running seesaws. She shows us how to introduce the dog to a moving ramp, as well as using the hoop, driving to the end of the board, raising the seesaw and progressing to a full height plank with reward. Weaver also advises on varying the reward point, bringing the seesaw and hoop together, and bringing the hoop closer. She then shows us how to swap the hoop in and out, before adding proofing and handling, followed by a troubleshooting section.
Finally she provides us with some important things to keep in mind with running contacts.
Heavily illustrated with colour photos to demonstrate the text, this book is a hugely comprehensive 335 page guide to creating perfect contacts.