How to train weaves in dog agility
Weaving poles in agility
The Kennel Club is the governing body for dog agility in the UK.
Here are some of their rules for dog agility weaves:
- The weaves are a standard height and should be "60 cm apart between the poles".
- Dogs should enter the weave poles with their left shoulder passing the first pole then weave through without skipping any.
- If they do make a mistake, they will receive faults or penalties, depending on the competition rules.
These rules are just a brief overview, you can familiarise yourself with the full specifications here: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/events-and-activities/agility/new-to-agility/agility-course-obstacles/
As your dogs learn the obstacle, they will develop their own pattern, so they are weaving through the poles with a smooth and fluid motion.
Why train a dog to weave?
Training a dog in agility weaves can have several benefits for both the dog and the owner. Here are some reasons why you might want to train your dog in agility weaves:
- Physical exercise: Agility training can provide your dog with a fun and challenging workout that helps keep them physically fit and healthy.
- Mental stimulation: Agility training can help keep your dog mentally stimulated and engaged, which can prevent boredom and destructive behaviours.
- Bonding with your dog: Training your dog in agility weaves can strengthen the bond between you and your dog as you work together to achieve a common goal.
- Improved obedience: Agility training can improve your dog's obedience and responsiveness to your commands, which can make them easier to handle in other situations.
- Competitive sport: Agility training can be a competitive sport that allows you and your dog to compete against other dog and owner teams, which can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Overall, training your dog in agility weaves can provide both physical and mental stimulation, improve obedience, and help strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.
How to train weaving poles
Training a dog to weave through agility poles can be a fun and challenging activity for both you and your furry friend. Here are some steps you can follow to train your dog to weave through agility poles:
First, we start with ‘channel weaves’.
Image 1: Betsy learning to weave for the first time using a channel of V weaves
Channel weaves in dog agility are a variation of the weave obstacle where the poles are placed with a gap in between them to create a "channel" for the dog to weave through. Instead of weaving in and out of individual poles, the dog moves down a straight line of poles with a gap between them.
Channel weaves are often used as an introductory exercise to teach dogs how to weave, as they are easier for dogs to understand and execute than traditional weave poles.
Rather than training the dog to run all 12, Anglian Dog Work's start using just 2 poles, using the 2-by-2 method. Gradually increasing the distance the dog is sent with each success...
The 2 by 2 method
The 2 by 2 method of training dog agility weaves is a popular training method that breaks down the weave obstacle into smaller, more manageable steps. The method involves using two poles instead of a full set of weave poles, and gradually increasing the number of poles as the dog progresses.
Here are the basic steps of the 2 by 2 method:
Start with two poles: Set up two weave poles about 60cm apart, and encourage your dog to weave through them by luring them with a treat or toy. (The handler can lure stepping backwards or forwards, whichever feels easiest and creates the strongest connection with the dog).
Gradually increase the number of poles: Once your dog can weave through two poles comfortably, add two more poles and create another set of weave poles. Place them next to the first set of poles, with a gap in between the sets.
The 2 by 2 method is a gradual and systematic approach to teaching dogs how to weave, and it can be effective for dogs of all skill levels.
Image 2: Reggie doing a straight set of V weaves in his second weave session
V weaves in agility are a variation of the weave obstacle where the poles are arranged in a "V" shape, with the base of the V being the entry and the two arms of the V being the exit. The dog weaves in and out of the poles in a zigzag pattern, following the shape of the V.
V weaves require the dog to adjust their stride and movement to follow the changing angle of the poles, and they can help improve a dog's balance, coordination, and agility.
Close the gap between the sets of poles:
As your dog progresses, gradually close the gap between the sets of poles until they are weaving through a continuous line of poles (just like Reggie the spaniel is in the clip above).
We add target at the end for the location of the reward to become predictable for your dog, this makes adding distance and independence in the future easier.
Traditional weave poles
Image 3: Harper an experienced dog doing upright weaves
Gradually increase the difficulty:
Once your dog can weave through a full set of poles comfortably, gradually increase the difficulty by increasing the speed, adding distractions, and changing the angle of approach.
To advance your dog's skills in agility weaves, there are several steps you can take:
- Practice regularly: Consistent practice is key to improving your dog's skills in weaving. Aim to practice at least a few times per week, focusing on building your dog's speed and accuracy.
- Increase independence: Once your dog has mastered weaving through a standard set of poles, gradually increase the difficulty by asking them to run the poles without you as close to them, for example, decelerate just before you reach the exit, move away at an angle once they are moving down the line or even cross behind them.
- Practice entries and exits: Ensure your dog is confident and comfortable with entering and exiting the weave poles correctly from all angles plus the handler being on the left and right side of the poles.
- Add obstacles: Incorporating other agility obstacles, such as jumps or tunnels, into your weave training can help your dog learn to weave in a variety of settings and under different conditions. You can use an obstacle close by, such as a tunnel entrance to challenge obstacle discrimination. Below is an example of a course that we run in class...
Remember, advancing your dog's agility skills takes time, patience, and consistent training. Always make sure your dog is physically and mentally ready for the level of difficulty you are introducing, and be sure to reward and praise your dog for their progress and successes along the way.
Remember to always be patient and encouraging with your dog. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your dog will be weaving through agility poles like a pro in no time!
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About the author: Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs across my two venues in Balsham and Barton, near Cambridge.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer