Dog Agility Contact Zoners
Whether you are using running contacts, 2on 20ff, or a combination of both, a contact zoner can help solidify a solid contact. Some research has shown that using the 2on 2off contact can put too much stress on the hindquarters of the dog. For those running fast or big dogs, this is especially true on the a-frame.
The zoner works as a form of conditioning that teaches a dog to touch the contact by limiting their choice with no interference by the handler. When the dog sees the zoner as they approach the down contact they will see that they cannot jump over leaving the option of running through. They are a great asset to have in the event your dog should start missing their once solid contacts as well.
You can introduce your dog to the zoner the same way you would a hoop. When your dog learns to run through the hoop you can then place it at the downside of the a-frame, dogwalk, or teeter. Like wire-weaves, if you introduce it from day one you are working muscle memory for the correct down contact performance. You will wean your dog off the zoner gradually and then only use it if you see your dog thinking about early exits.
The zoner is also great for using on the upside of the dogwalk or teeter if you have a dog that tries to enter these obstacles from the side. Though judges should design courses for a clean, straight entry, practicing different angled approaches helps ensure your dog will not make that mistake should something happen at competition to lead to an angled approach.
Please Note: Do not use these for the upside of an A-frame. Some dogs need to leap up the A-frame to get enough running power. Besides, it is not necessary they touch the upside contact zone. But you can use them for Teeters & Dogwalks, as it can help with dogs that approach from the side.