Contact Training

Filly practices the 2 feet on, 2 feet off behavior on the contact obstacles. The clicker is used as a tool to reinforce the behaviors of 'contact' and 'touch'.

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Filly is shown here receiving three click 'n' treat rewards, first for offering the contact behavior, followed by two repetitions of touch.


Contact: Click and Treat #1 for the 'Contact' Behavior
The word 'contact' means drive to the bottom of the contact obstacle and place your 2 front feet on the ground while keeping your 2 rear feet on the obstacle. Filly receives a click the instant her front feet hit the ground. The click is followed by a treat.

Touch: Click and Treat for the 'Touch' Behavior:
The word 'touch' means remain in position...2 feet on, 2 feet off...and touch your nose to the ground. This demonstrations shows the dog doing two repetions of the touch behavior.


Why two commands, "contact" and "touch"?

I feel one of the biggest errors in training our dogs to do the 2 on, 2 off position on contact obstacles is a failure to isolate teaching them what to do with their feet.

Many training methods used to teach two feet on, two feet off are based upon using a nose touch at the bottom of the contact obstacle. I see many dogs who have learned that their handler wants them to do a nose touch somewhere within the vicinity of the end of the obstacle, but they have not been taught that there is a specific rule about where their feet are to be placed. Have you spent as much time teaching your dog where you want him to put his feet as you have in teaching him to do a nose touch?


I teach these two behaviors separately. The dog learns how to do each behavior independently of one another. As mentioned above, 'contact' is a command that refers to the position of the dog's feet. It means run to the end of the surface and put your two front feet on the ground while keeping your two back feet on the surface. This can be taught on many different surfaces before the dog is introduced to contact obstacles. (See video clips on Pre-Contact training). 'Touch', for my purposes, simply means touch your nose to the ground, it has nothing to do with running.


Why bother with the nose touch? What is the purpose?

The nose touch can serve several useful purposes:

  • Gives the dog a specific behavior to do while learning to hold the contact postion.
  • Can help the dog to keep their body straight at the bottom of contacts.
  • Encourages dog to remain low to the ground (crouched) which is a position some trainers prefer.