How to: Teach Your Dog To Weave Poles
|February 13, 2014||Posted by amkuska under Dog Training|
Before I watched the 3 minute video above, I spent literally hours working on weave pole training with my dog, Rocco. We took 8 weeks of formal agility lessons with weave-o-matics and 8 more with staggered weave poles. We tried “The Weave Pole Dance”. We tried the 2×2 method. We read books and watched movies on every training technique there is. We’ve even read about “Back-Chaining” but never understood the concept until it was performed in the video above with the help of a chicken.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to teach your dog to weave easily and quickly in a few short lessons, watch the chicken.
We’ve had back-chaining explained to us before but never tried it because it didn’t make sense. After all, teaching the last part first seems a bit like sending a toddler off in a BMX race when he hasn’t mastered his tricycle yet. When we saw this chicken video, it all made sense, and I realized how necessary it was for me to try this technique with my dogs.
The Last Weave
I had to draw myself a little map of weave pole entry so I knew which direction the last weave should be. This might not matter for a chicken, but it sure matters for weaving! Here’s my little map for those who might need it:
I used Leia for this because she’s best at the “clicker” game, and I wanted to see how it worked as quickly as possible. I placed Leia at the end of the poles on the correct side and rewarded her for standing there heavily. The first lesson was simply stuffing her with treats and rewarding her for being there, stopping the treats only when she moved away from this highly desirable place.
In the second lesson, I placed her in front of the second to last weave pole, angled so that she could easily swoop into her newest favorite spot on earth. I was prepared to lure her to the last pole but that was not necessary. She rushed into her new favorite spot every time. We stayed at this level for about 3 lessons (of 25 repetitions each, not that it really matters.) and decided to move on when she began offering the behavior without being asked. (she reallllly likes the weave pole game. OMG! Standing there for food? YAY!)
Here’s a video of her performing consistently at this level:
After 4-5 more sessions, I moved her back a little farther, so that she was level with the 3rd pole. This was kind of the big test because until this part, weaving the pole was simply the most direct route to the “Treat pole”. I was really surprised to find that Leia didn’t seem to think this was confusing at all. She weaved right off the bat.
At this point I was running out of poles (only have 4 at the moment, I’m missing a couple of pieces to make the last 2 poles) so I tried putting her back to the last pole to see what would happen:
This is as far as I got with my current poles. It only took me about a week total, with several sessions throughout the day, to get her solid on these poles. I imagine it won’t take much longer when I get more. I hope this tutorial helps you achieve weave pole training quickly and with little confusion to your dog.