The best method for training the weave poles

As you know, weave poles can be the most challenging obstacle for your dog to learn. What is the best way to teach them? What are trainers recommending? I myself trained my dog the ‘old-fashioned’ way, with the poles simply straight up and down. I ‘shaped’ her to go in and out by using body language such as gentle knee bumping and hand signals. For awhile she weaved pretty reliably, but then to my surprise (agility is all about surprises!) she began ‘popping’ out of poles from time to time. I added the clip-on wires to my set, and this definitely worked to break the habit. I’ve been a proponent of the wires since. But if I had to do it all over again, I think now I would use the channel method, even though it has a more complex base. It’s been popular with trainers for years, and is touted to be an almost fool-proof method if the process isn’t rushed. Today the popular 2 x 2 (Versaweaves) method is actually very similar in concept to the channel method. Without a doubt it is definitely the rage with all the top trainers, and if you can afford a really good set that will last you through all your years of agility training, this is the one to get. The principle is the same as the weave-a-matic and channel method (just different in its base structure), that is, to create a ‘pathway’ for your dog to run through that does not require your dog to weave ~ at first. The goal is to then slowly bring the poles closer and closer to each other so that your dog begins to weave ever so slightly. Eventually you bring the poles in a straight line. It’s a great method for really getting your dog to mentally understand the concept of weaving.

Don’t worry too much about choosing a set though. Every method has its proponents! The key is patience, no matter what set you use. If you don’t rush the process, and you work at it a little each day to the point of success, your dog will learn them. And remember, we are always here to help you with any questions you have!

11 Comments on “The best method for training the weave poles

  1. I took a class with my mix, Savannah, and we used the 2 x 2s. I can’t testify to them, however, because the class ended before she got a chance to really understand. She never really had the heart for agility, so I decided to try some fun weave poles at home. I bought some wires, and those seem to work. I haven’t had the guts to take them off, though. 😀 In a few weeks with more training, I will. The people I bought the wires from said that some dogs pop out with wire training. Anyone have that happen? Any tips for preventing it from happening?

    • Hi there, Thanks for your comment. About the problem with a dog popping out of the weave poles in wire training…. One thing I found is that the height that the wires are places is important. Too high, they might not see them. Too low, and they might try to hop out of them. But once your dog seems pretty reliable this way, it’s time to start SLOWLY raising the wires up (out of your dog’s line of sight). But not too fast that your dog starts popping out again. The goal is to get him less and less dependant on the wires. In other words, I don’t recommend just taking them off entirely. Raise them instead. Any other thoughts out there?

  2. I’ve been doing agility for literally a week and I thought the big difference with the 2×2 method is that it treats the poles as a chained repeat of a single obstacle (two poles) instead of one long 12 pole nightmare. The biggest advantage being teaching drive from the start.

    • Hello Rich,
      You are right. The 2 x 2 allows for poles to be separated, forming a channel (path) for your dog to run through, increasing drive. What a previous commenter recommended was putting food “targets” (treats on top of a plastic lid) partway into the path to increase speed. Then of course the poles are slowly brought closer together in following training sessions. Here is a youtube video of the versaweaves illustrating the concept of the “pathway” that I am referring to. Not all that long (it’s not for training purposes) but it helps to visualize what is meant by 2 x 2’s and channeling.
      So glad to hear that you’re involved in agiilty! I hope you find these posts helpful in your adventure!

  3. I live in the Northeast so we had about four to five feet of snow in the backyard…so yes, we set them up inside. Mulligan has only been doing agility for a year and speeding up his poles was our winter project. i would suggest moving the poles through out the house if you have room. A change of environment is always a good idea. I also only used six poles for this but it did increase his speed with twelve poles. I would say 5 times faster now.

  4. Flying Bichon, That is such a great idea. Do you put your weave poles up inside to do this?

  5. I started seeing the biggest improvement with Mulligan’s speed through the poles when I began including them in his meal time routine. He is a real chow hound LOL!! I split his dinner in to two meals. At first I needed my husbands help. He held the food bowl about ten feet away from the poles. I held Mulligan at the opposite end of the poles and wound him up to get his meal. When he was pulling towards the poles I would release him. He only went straight to his food bowl once without weaving. In that instance we picked up his food bowl. Now he barrels throught the bowls to get to his dinner and he is even faster to get the second part of his meal. I always do the second bowl of food in the opposite direction. We did this twice a day for a month. Now we do it for one meal a day adding difficult entries up to 180 degrees now to the regime to keep it fun and interesting. I also do not need anyone to babysit the food bowl anymore which is nice.

  6. My first dog learned using wires. I didn’t like them. He learned to follow the curve of the wires and never learned to drive through. My 2nd dog, now 3 years old, learned using food on target plates between channel poles. As he learned entrances from any angle, using leash to keep him from cheating :), I moved the target plate gradually along the straight line between poles. I like this method as it teaches independent weaves from the start and the dog learns to work with drive. As he learned to work all of the poles with accuracy and speed, I gradually moved the poles into a straight line. I have a set of channel poles from Agility Ability. I found them useful, except they are difficult to adjust. Since I don’t have facilities at home, I have to take them to parks and they are a pain to take apart and put back together.

  7. I train my class members with the 2 x 2’s. But I saw Affordable Agility’s VersaWeaves and think they are better because they can be used as a channel set too. I’ve always thought the 2 x 2’s to be hard in the setup, but the channel weaves are easier in the setup. But they are essentially the same method, and it does work.

  8. I did get affordable agility’s wires. They are great. No sagging when iced up even. I think this method is the best for me, but I’ve not had experience with the other methods yet.