Home > Training > Training Jilly > Contacts

Jilly's contact training started with a wobble board and balancing exercises.  She was just a little puppy when we started and as she grew up she became more and more confident on moving surfaces and her balance improved so that she had lots of confidence when it came to start training on a full sized dog walk and on a see-saw. 
At eight weeks the wobble board holds no fear At eight months Jilly's learned to skateboard.

We used all sorts of things for balancing, a gym ball, a "peanut" which is a peanut shaped gym ball, children's stools a skateboard and anything else that was handy. 

At around five months Jilly was led up a see-saw with someone holding the end and lowering it so that there was no bump.  This progressed to running to the end of the see-saw but we only did this very occasionally.  She wasn't allowed to tackle the see-saw by herself until she was over 12 months old.  At this age it was a very gradual introduction to the bump as the see-saw goes down.  It was allowed to drop just a few inches at first. 

For the dog walk I began her training with a little puppy sized version which she loved. Later we we moved on to a half sized dog walk and at around 13 months she did the full sized version.  By this time she had good balance and no fear. 

Jilly at 7 months on her puppy sized dog walk. A half sized dog walk.  It's only about 30inches high.

At 13 months Jilly was able to do the full sized dog walk but I hadn't proofed her contacts.

I started training her using "Go stop," which means go to the end of the ramp and stop.  Once she was on the down ramp I tell her to, "Go stop," and rewarded her for stopping on the contact point.  Later on though I found it wasn't enough to proof the contacts and we had to change the way we trained slightly.  

Here's a video of Jilly on the dog walk.  It was only the second time she's ever done it at full height and she did very well.  Most people like to have the dog standing in the two on two off position but Jilly always sits.  It's seems to be the most comfortable for her and so I haven't insisted that she remains standing. 

Later on I needed to proof the contacts as Jilly wasn't fully understanding the stop position at the end of the ramp.  We started in classes on some stairs by getting the position with Jilly going down to the bottom step and stopping with her front feet on a mat. I threw titbits onto the mat.  I sat on the stairs beside her to make sure that she stopped. We continued at home on a plank in the garden and then on the lowered ramp of the half sized dog walk.  I changed the command to a simple, "Walk on" at the beginning of the dog walk and see-saw.  The idea is to throw titbits to the dog when they stop in the right position.  Unfortunately I throw like a girl and so the titbits are placed at the bottom of the ramp.  Here we are training at home on the lowered ramp.  As yet we haven't trained the stop on the A-frame. 


And here's Jilly training on the half sized dog walk and see-saw.


Just a note.  I didn't teach the dog walk as the first piece of contact equipment as I wanted Jilly to understand that a ramp can move and to learn how to balance.  Although puppies can't do a full sized see-saw or take any bang they can play on a wobble board and go on a plank that tips a bit.  Jilly was been carefully led up a full sized see-saw with someone holding the end and gently lowering it.  Dogs need to feel safe and if they've been taught to balance on something that moves they'll be much more confident on the see-saw.


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