Cheetahs, temperamentally, are nervous cats, which in turn makes breeding stressful and difficult for them, especially in captivity - which some zoos provide companion dogs for cheetahs to alleviate stress, etc.
Some zoos are introducing dogs to calm the skittish cats and bring attention to their plight. They’re pairing “companion dogs” with some cheetahs to serve as playmates and to provide the cats with guidance.
Cheetah females don’t go into heat like other cats. Instead, they have to be brought into estrus by a male cheetah, the experts explained. That’s why breeding is so hard — because they aren’t social animals, they live independently, and they seldom hang out with one another.
(source - I suggest you to read the source article for more info on that.)
Cheetahs, in short, were made for speed. They are small-framed felines and are not equipped for confrontation. They survive on their speed, if they are not able to run, they will die.
By direct contact, what do you mean? Direct contact like with the public or zookeepers having contact with them, because there is a difference. Cheetahs may only seem safer due to their docile behavior, but they are dangerous predators nonetheless. Direct contact with the public is a no no, however the zookeepers may have direct contact with them for purposes such as veterinary care, etc.
Hope I answered your question rather than confuse you lol!