Zoning a Zooming Contact

Contact zoners are a wonderful contact reinforcer. Too many times dogs are disqualified at trials because they’ve missed a contact from going too fast off the end. Enter the Contact Zoner! It works by providing a visual ‘uhoh, can’t jump, I’d hit that’ cue.  Simply place the zoner at the bottom of the obstacle, and run the obstacle as usual. It forces your dog to go to the end of the contact- A-frame, Dogwalk, or Seesaw– to go through it.  Train slowly and treat often, and you will be well on your way to contact mastery. If he ever misses a contact again, simply bring it back as a gentle reminder.  Remember to use treats and lots and lots of praise for a good contact.

Using zoners is a form of conditioning that teaches a dog by limiting his choices- a two on two off which according to Clean Run magazines’ research may place too much stress on the hindquarters of the dog isn’t necessary with a zoner.  Your dog learns that it can’t jump off, so it simply runs through.  Think of it as a childproof lock that you can eventually remove from your cupboard, yet your child no longer even bothers trying to get in (until they do, which is why it is important to have the zoner in use sometimes.)

Note: Do not use these for the upside of an A-frame.  Big dogs need to leap up the A-frame to get enough running power, and it is not necessary that they touch the contact zone on the upside anyway.  But you can use them for Teeters & Dogwalks, as it can help with dogs that approach from the side.

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1 Comment on “Zoning a Zooming Contact

  1. Why don’t the dog agility venues just put these things on their competition courses? The dogs will be safe, because they won’t be able to jump off, and we handlers will no longer need to waste so much time trying to train contacts.