Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Agility Training 101- Weave Poles

If your dog has mastered the jump and the tunnel, you may be looking for a little more of a challenge.  Or perhaps you are just looking to make your dog’s agility routine a little better-rounded.  Whatever the reason, weave poles are a great physical and mental stimulus but they can also be rather difficult to master.  Cynthia Vasques from Anaheim knows first-hand that not all dogs will follow you (or a treat for that matter) in and out of strange poles sticking out of the ground. 
“Max, my 2 year old Boxer, would not have anything to do with the weave poles in our agility course.  He would just stare at me like ‘what are you doing?’ and I would be getting all the exercise to weaving in and out of those poles.” Cynthia decided to try recreating the weave poles at home to see if she could get Max to weave.  “Training your dog to weave in and out of poles can be a little trickier without specific equipment.  My husband had some old wooden stakes in the garage that I used in a dirt area in our yard.” Creativity knows no limits, and as Cynthia did, you can use household items yourself.  You can easily make the poles out of PVC, wooden stakes, or even just marker flags.  Simply stick your pole into the ground outside.  If you don’t have a yard or area that you can stick poles into, you can always attach your poles to a flat plank of wood that is strong enough to support whatever poles you are using. 
Cynthia continues, “The poles were not working how they were set up in class, so my agility course trainer gave me some great starter tips to try with Max at home.”
·         Start with two separate rows of poles, with the poles about 1½ - 2 feet apart from each other.  Place the two rows parallel to each other with enough room in between them to walk through.  Now encourage your dog to walk straight through the two rows with you.  No weaving yet, just walking straight.
·         As your dog becomes more familiar with the walk through the poles, start bringing the poles closer together.  
·         As you pull the poles together, window the poles, giving enough distance to create a loose weave.  Have your dog follow you (or the treats) through the loose weave.
·         As your dog gets better, tighten the weave.  Once your dog has mastered the weave you can combine your two rows into one long row and have your dog just weave through that on his own.
It took a little time and a lot of patience, but Max did learn to weave by the end of the course.  Now it’s your turn.  Can your dog weave?

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