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Contact Training For Those With No Interest in Dog Agility

Posted on 04/28/12 38 Comments

Weird eh?

Why on earth would anyone who has no interest in dog agility want to know anything about how to train agility contact obstacles? To explain the reason let me share a story with you. Years ago John (my husband) used to travel to, and help me out at many of my seminars (he still does occasionally but not that often anymore). After about a year of so of this he said to me “your seminars are just like a Rolling Stones album . . . the music stays the same . . . you just change the lyrics.” (I am sure John meant no offense to those of us that have Rolling Stones music on our ipods). What John was saying was it didn’t matter if I was teaching a seminar for pet dog training, flyball, obedience, agility, or any other dog sport. I was teaching the same concepts only the application was different.As it should be, as it is all dog training. A dog training program that is deeply seeded in the fundamentals of the science of how dogs learns should be the same regardless of what skills you are developing or what challenges you are working to overcoming.

It comes down to shaping behaviours and manipulating drives. Really, that is dog training in a nut shell.

For the last week I have been presenting a series of on-line training videos to help agility enthusiasts get a better idea of how to fix their current contacts or develop a plan to start from scratch. I have had many “non agility” dog owners watch these videos and comment on how applicable what I was sharing was to their own non-agility training. They see, what John saw many years ago.

In this series I set out to out line what I have found to  be the most critical keys to successfully training contacts for the sport of agility. The truth is, I could re-write this training series and put just about any complex dog training skill in the title and not change the content of what I am presenting. Here is what many of you have discovered; what is critical for training one skill in dog training is just as relevant when you go to train the next.

This three part video series is going to be posted for only for another week, I encourage you to try to make the time to check it out. While you are there be sure to download the free ebook  and to leave a comment to let me know how my experiences have paralleled or changed the path of yours!

Here is the link to the series www.RunOrStop.com

Today I am grateful for Lynda Orton-Hill. Lynda just concluded a two month leave of absence from her job with the government so she could dedicate herself to working full time here at Say Yes. Lynda is a difference maker to our students, but more important she is a great friend to me. Even though she will continue in her role as a “part-time” employee with us, I will miss having her around to bounce ideas off of her any time of the day (and sometimes early hours of the morning).


  1. photophobia says:
    Friday, April 4, 2014 at 10:43pm

    Wow, this post is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these
    kinds of things, therefore I am going to convey her.


  2. judy says:
    Monday, July 9, 2012 at 4:10pm

    very basic question – which brand of crate would you advise for crate games- just starting out? I have an ECSpup 6 months and am going to take a class in the fall.


  3. Richard Taylor says:
    Friday, July 6, 2012 at 6:07am

    Thanks for your nice story


  4. 雅漾舒护活泉水 says:
    Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 11:37pm



  5. sharon empson says:
    Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 4:54pm

    Susan: I am loving the knowledge you are passing on thru your articles and on line courses. It has began to make an impact on my dogs already. Right now I am training Bindi for Rally O. Through the messages you have given me, I realized that I am much to serious when I train. I had to lighten up a bit! BIndi is enjoying herself more and more. Also, with Bindi corrections when she goofs only damper her attempts. So I have taken your advise and make no mention of errors, just begin again. It is helping her enjoy herself.
    I am playing games with my dogs to strengthen their foundations skills instead of trying to teach a behavior right away. It does make all the difference in the world. As you can tell I am new to training, so I really need your advise. I have 2 other dogs I am training, they are all on foundation skills right now and they are really enjoying it. Thanks so much Susan. I am grateful for you passing on what you have learned. Sharon


    • Susan says:
      Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 5:04pm

      @Sharon, keep up the good work/play let joy be your guide!


      • sharon empson says:
        Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:44am

        amen. sharon

  6. Jonelle Wolf says:
    Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 1:49pm

    I have an eleven year old Bichon that I started out doing agility with. She was such a joy. Never a fast dog, but ran good clean runs and Q’d. She is still running and we have such a good time. I also have a new little Sheltie that has turned me into an agility junkie! She loves her agility and has presented me with learning a whole new set of handling skills. However, unlike the Bichon we started out from the begining doing crate games and all the recall online programs that Susan has provided, thus making our experienced awesome. I am so looking forward to the contact online program. we still have so much to learn and we are ready!


  7. Kathy says:
    Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 9:15am

    We are learning sooo much from your R3 course and thinking of the Critical Keys for Contact Success. Susan, you and your team are fantastic – thanks so much for sharing. You’re special people!

    Question: For the ‘Member’ group will we receive a workbook including the modules and component games like we received for R3?

    Thanks, Kathy & Lucas


  8. Angela says:
    Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:45pm

    So happy that we will have another chance to see the webinars! I got part way through them but life seemed to get in the way of my plans. I find you so motivating, Susan and your insight into dog training makes incredible sense. If I’ve learned anything from you, it’s how to “lighten up” with my dog training and learn to laugh with my furry kids. As I’ve learned to relax more, the response from the dogs has improved so we’re all having more fun which is really what it’s all about.


  9. monty says:
    Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 8:24pm

    hi I am a horse clicker trainer who is interested in the body awareness components for sure, though Alexandra Kurland has definitely got me on those already ( I’ve been with her for 13 years and am her only Canadian approved instructor) but I love to look outside my ‘box’ to see new ways to teach things. would this course be of use to me?? the contact work I can also see working for me. thanks for the reply! Love your webinars


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:00pm

      @Monty, first of all congratulations for being the only Canadian approved instructor). I do get emails every so often from students that have applied many of my games (including Crate Games) to their horses. I would be fascinated to see where this course takes you. Please do sign up with the knowledge that if it really is too “out there” for the horses we will give you a refund.


      • monty says:
        Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:44pm

        perfect thanks will get it done asap!

  10. Teresa K says:
    Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 12:28am

    Glad to hear we will have a last minute chance to see the last 2 webinars and download the PDF… I was ill and missed them when they first came out.

    I am thinking about this new course.. I don’t do agility, I train service dogs, but the body awareness library sounds very interesting! I got so much out of Recallers 3.0 and am still enjoying Puppy Peaks.


  11. Isabelle says:
    Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 5:58pm

    Is there anyway to still access the free webinars?? I missed the last on and the 2nd PDF and am so disappointed! I would like to see this before I decide for sure about the new E-Course! I am a Puppy Peaks Member but want to do more. Any help wit this? I though we had until Friday to access this 🙁


    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 7:43pm

      @Isabelle, we will re-open the free webinars later on the weekend.


  12. Darlene says:
    Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 1:58pm

    I have a Golden retriever an I do Dog Dance with him. some times when we are performing in the ring he rush out to say hello to the public. Can your program help me with this?


    • Esther says:
      Friday, May 4, 2012 at 9:36am

      @Darlene : I know from experience that Susan’s online Recallers course would defenitely help you with that problem. As she teaches us in all her courses: it’s all about where the value is for the dog. Apparently for your dog, sometimes the value for saying hi to people is greater than for doing dog dance with you. With the recallers games you learn how to improve your dog’s value for you so that your dog will love to do whatever activity you have in mind for him.


  13. Fiona says:
    Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 12:44am

    I have recently been hearing you in my head a great deal Susan!
    In the last few months I’ve been working on getting the same tug drive next to the rings at a show as that which I get at home with my young dog.
    Tiny little steps at first, basically playing its yer choice – you pick up the toy, I will reward with food.
    Slowly slowly building the time and interaction level on the toy required for the food to appear.
    There were definately moments in there when it would have been easy to lose the faith but……….”suddenly” (with tongue in cheek) we have EXACTLY the same amount of toy drive and tug enthusiasm no matter where we are or who is around us.
    During this time I wasn’t running him at all as I had realised that without the focus outside the ring, the focus inside was likely to be a lot worse.
    The difference – amazing – one show now and baby dog mistakes (loss of balance on corners and failure to pick lines early etc) but OMG.
    I’ve never done so much work like this before and in the “old” days I wouldn’t have known how to cope iwth the good old “Don’t wanna, Don’t hafta” stuff. Strangely it fixed some small holes in my recall I didn’t even realise I had too!
    To be honest I think that 99% of what we as handlers need to teach anything we ever wanted to teach is contained in Susans fundamentals 2 day course – its not about how to teach stuff, its a mind-set change about making sure you know what you want and are prepared to work through the CRAP to get it!


  14. Jane Harding says:
    Monday, April 30, 2012 at 8:53pm

    Oh, your Critical Keys final video is SO BRILLIANT!… Of course I’m guilty!.. I’ve been releasing Pippin without the release word and before she gets to her criteria – 2o2o with a nose touch.. and now I have the creeps – no self releasing yet except on teeter.. I’m crawling back to retraining – which should be fun.
    THANK YOU for reiterating what my trainer told me.. “she’s slowing down cos she’s not sure of her criteria”…..
    Off to train…


  15. Sharon says:
    Monday, April 30, 2012 at 3:33pm

    Thanks Susan and team. Loved the info- of course. You break it down for us humans into manageable pieces. At this point we have a confusing, unreliable, unproofed “2o2o” performance I need to “be defined by my criteria” before I can expect my dog to figure it out.


  16. Tracey Lander says:
    Monday, April 30, 2012 at 7:13am

    Boo Hoo I missed the second link in the ten/eleven critical keys and now I can’t access it. I have seen 1 and 3 is there a way I can still see number 2? help help!


    • Susan says:
      Monday, April 30, 2012 at 8:18am

      @Tracey, they are all there, just look to the right of any of the three videos and you will see an imagine for the other two, just click on the image of the video you want!


  17. Lauren says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 4:56pm

    LOH and Susan are an amazing partnership and boy everyone needs a LOH. Takecare guys and look after yourselves. You are both truly inspiring!


  18. Elaine says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 3:54pm

    Love the contact videos but WHERE is the link to the free e-book? Probably right in fro t of my face, but for the life of me, I’m not seeing it 🙂


  19. Clare says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2:30pm

    Is that Andrea running a red and white collie in the background – followed by LOH?


    • Susan says:
      Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2:36pm

      Yes it is, all here for a handling workshop with UKers Matt Rouse & Lauren Langman.


  20. Andrea says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 1:49pm

    sound teaching principles apply not only cross sport but cross species I have found …


  21. eve ross says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 12:14pm

    oops: take the video off full screen and see the rest of the site!!!! Sorry about that……


  22. eve ross says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 12:10pm

    All: could someone tell me where to download the ebooks? my note-taking isn’t up to all this information! I’ve looked on runorstop.com and not found it………thanks in advance!


  23. Debra Jones says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 11:38am

    Susan, my goal is still to be ready for our first Agility qualification next year. I’m so looking forward to the Contact Course as it is a critical piece of the puzzle; but also a critical piece for any area like you stated in your post. Snap & I have begun Search & Rescue (I’m sure you’ve already heard this!LOL)and Rally Obedience. You can’t imagine how much Recallers, Critical Core games & Shaping have come into play and I know the Contact Course will be valuable also. Just want you to know there’s never a day go by that your name doesn’t ‘pop’ outta my mouth… “Well, Susan Garret said, or just blogged…” LOL. Even my Search/Rescue Instructor has heard of you and only does Positive Reinforcement training (thank God…) BTW, got home late last night and Snap wanted to “work” so bad that I was in the middle of the living room on the floor going over the Shaping exercises with her. She so loves it! You and Lynda are awesome!!!


  24. Evie says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 11:06am

    thanks so much for the wonderful videos and all the important information! Learning so much!


  25. Christine says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 7:52am

    For me the learning has really been about timing of reinforcement and really knowing what actually makes your dog tick. When I was priv’d to learn those skills from seeing it at your camps, in recallers, puppy peaks etc it really was much easier to discover with my dogs and mimic the enthusiasm you see in order to acjieve that brilliance.

    It really did unlock the mystery of the caramilk bar when learning what made each of my dogs tick (all different) and seeing the light shimmer in their eyes because of it!


  26. Laura W. says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 7:39am

    As somebody who has no aspirations to ever set foot in an agility ring***, I’m happy to say I’ve realized this all along. Great training is great training, no matter what the sport.

    ***in a competitive sense anyway – I’m helping out in the agility ring at our national breed specialty tomorrow, after we’ve done our thing in the obedience ring!


  27. sue-w says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2:19am

    Great information in your videos. Love the lightbulb moment about the behavior being too simple to maintain (in video 3)! Thanks so much for the 2 downloadable e-books also! You sure know how to put on a party!!


  28. Mariah Hinds says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2:16am

    LOH must really love her government job! I am sure she will be missed. You wouldn’t even have to pay me to work for full-time for a few weeks- I would be on that opportunity like white on rice.

    Need an intern? LOL!

    The info you provide is often invaluable for life and in any sport with dogs.:-)


  29. Sharon S says:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 12:31am

    Susan, my mother reads your blog and watches your free webinars and she does not even have a dog! That is how good you are 🙂

    Hi Mum!!


  30. Dianne says:
    Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 11:20pm

    I am doing agility but everything I have learned through Susan and crew have helped me with everything I do with my dog. Even today while we were building jumps and weaves we had fun and joy. It is so much a way of thinking and rethinking patience and joy. Thank you Susan I hope more people can enjoy to love with your dogs.


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