Dogs are such intelligent little creatures. They are able to work as guide dogs, therapy dogs, compete in competitions and make the perfect companions.
Within just a few moments of having a dog, they become part of your family. One of the best ways that you can bond with your dog is by training them.
Dogs love having things to do and new things to learn, because they are eager to please their owners…and to earn some tasty treats too. Many dog owners even do some agility training with their pets involving obstacles such as weave poles. So, what exactly is dog agility training?
What Is Dog Agility?
Dog agility training is a popular and fun canine sport where the owner or handler of the dog directs them through a series of obstacles such as tunnels, tire jumps, teeter-totters, normal jumps and weave poles.
The purpose is to train the dog to get through the obstacle course as quickly and accurately as possible without any mistakes or failures. Dog agility is perfect for keeping dogs active, fit and healthy as it is great exercise and very mentally stimulating for them.
Dogs naturally have instincts to chase prey and navigate themselves through forests and natural barriers.
By training them to jump, weave through tunnels and poles, you are mimicking these natural scenarios and situations and fulfilling those hunting and chasing instincts that your dog has.
One of the most advanced parts of the obstacle course in dog agility is the weave poles section. So, what is this, and how do you set this up to train your dog?
What Are Weave Poles?
Weave poles are simply long poles that are stuck into the ground, in order to train your dog to weave or maneuver themselves in between them.
These poles are long and thin, and work as spacers, so that your dog learns to go in between them in a zig-zag or back and forth motion until they come out the other side.
Whilst it may take a while to learn, and you’ll have to start with the poles set apart to train your dog, once completed, it should look like your dog is heading in a straight line whilst weaving, as the poles will be closer together in competitions and contests.
How Far Apart Are Weave Poles In Dog Agility?
When it comes to weave poles in dog agility, all agility organizations have specific rules and guidelines regarding how they should be placed out. For instance, there should always be 12 poles in total, and they need to be spaced 24 inches apart.
This is so the dog has to navigate through the weave poles in a zig-zag pattern, and weave through them.
If your dog is competing in an agility contest or competition, then they will have to weave accurately, entering and exiting the weave pole section correctly, or they will be faulted.
Your dog will need to enter the row of poles with the first pole on their left shoulder, and have to go through all 12 poles without skipping a single one.
Many organizations and competitions will allow 22” spacing and 24” spacing, but the American Kennel Club and many other authorities highly recommend 24 inch spacing instead.
How Do You Set Up A Weave Pole?
However, we recommend these ones from TRIXIE with 12 poles that are convenient to use and highly portable.
Alternatively, you may want to try something a little sturdier when your dog is more advanced such as these Lord Anson Dog Agility Weave Poles or simply purchase an agility training set to get you started.
Once you have your poles, you’ll need to know how to set them up properly.
No matter what size dog you have, or what breed, weave poles need to be set up the same way in order to train them and for them to qualify for agility contests and competitions.
As mentioned above, weave poles need to be 24 inches apart between each one, and you need to have 12 poles in total.
How Do You Train Your Dog To Weave?
Weaving is an advanced technique, so you should only be considering this if your dog is obedient, and once the dog has fully grown.
Weaving can put some strain on your dog’s shoulders and spine, so it is not a good idea to train a young dog or pup to weave as they could injure themselves. Your dog will also need to be fit, healthy and in good shape to weave.
Training a dog to weave is a long process and can take up to 3 months to get the jist of it, so you’ll need to be very patient and dedicated to frequent training and practice.
Once you have the poles, you’re ready to start. Now, many dog owners will attempt to get their dogs to weave with treats to lure them.
Whilst treats are great motivators, this might not necessarily get them to go through the obstacle rather than around it. Also, you will not be able to do this in a competition, and your dog may not know what to do without you luring them.
So, instead, you’ll want to use the channel method for weaving. This means taking the 12 poles and creating a channel. For instance, every second pole is moved out of line so you have a zigzag pattern.
Now, you can teach your dog to run through these channel weave poles, in a straight line from one end to the other successfully.
Then, over time, try moving them closer together, and practice again. Next, move them closer again and repeat the process again until they are nearly in a straight line.
By the time you’re done, your dog will be running through the closed channel, in a straight line but by weaving through the poles.
The way your dog weaves the poles will depend on their size, as most large dog breeds will single step, by placing one foot on each side of the poles to navigate their way through.
Other smaller breeds may hop or jump either side to get through.
Teaching your dog to weave through poles is a great way to keep them fit, active, and to get them to learn and bond with you. It’s an advanced type of agility training that can take up to 3 months to get your dog to weave through the poles effectively.
If you’re interested in training your dog to do this, then you’ll have to space the poles out properly, using 12 poles with a distance of 24 inches between them.