The weave poles are probably the hardest piece of equipment in agility for your dog to learn as it is a completely un-natural thing for a dog to do. Your dog's ability to weave will be governed by his size, it is much harder for a large, or long backed dog than it is for a smaller dog.
N.B Because it is so un-natural for your dog you should not attempt to start training a dog under a year old through straight weave poles.
The key to teaching your dog to weave confidently is patience and practice. If, like Hugo and I, you live in a flat without a garden then the 'practice' element is resticted to once a week at club, so you will have to demonstrate a little more patience!
Below is a positive method which those of you with gardens can use to help your dog learn to weave confidently on either side. Above all remember that if your dog gets it wrong at any stage do NOT get cross with your dog, simply go back to the previous stage at which your dog was weaving easily.
(Club members may borrow the spiked poles for a week at a time in order to practice as detailed below. Once your dog is ready to practice at home we will discuss this practice method in class)
Remember: The initial stages of training should be undertaken under instructor supervision. Only once your dog has progressed from recalling and is running through the channel to the toy or food should you practice at home. Remember we don't want to give your dog the option of doing anything wrong, we want him to get it right every time, so don't rush.
Lay out the string guide line. It is knotted every 22inches, this gives you the length between each pole. We will be making a channel through the middle, so put the first pole approx 2inches to the left of the first knot, and angle it slightly to the left so the top points outwards. Place the second pole 2inches to the right of the second knot, this time slightly on an angle to the right. Stand back and looking straight on you should see a V pattern with a gap in the middle. Continue to alternate the poles. Once they are all in you should have a path, 4inch wide, straight down the middle.
To refresh you dog walk him through on lead as you have done previously in class. Do this a few times on both sides.
1) Now take his lead off. Just as in class put his head level with the first pole, let go and as he runs through throw his toy ahead of him. Practice this a few times every day on both sides.
2) Once he is charging through move back a little bit, so he has to move into the poles. Again practice this a few times every day on both sides. Gradually move further and further back.
3) He should now be running though happily from several feet away. Now we want to start adding in an angle. Move only very slightly to each side at first. Practice this a few times every day on both sides until your dog will confidently run through from a 45degree angle into the poles.
Now your dog is ready for the poles to be brought in by an inch on one side, also reduce the angle of tilt slightly. Go back to number 1 and work him through all the stages on the narrower poles.
Remember do not rush - if he goes wrong do not get cross - you have taken it too fast for him, go back a stage, even if that means putting the poles wider again. We are aiming for a confident dog who enjoys weaving, so keep it short and fun.
© Ridinghood Pet Dog Agility Club 2002