In a recent post on weave entrance training I described how I teach from 0 to 90 degree entrances (from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock on image below) in my living room.
I must admit that I have slacked in training weaves lately as there were other behaviors that were more important to me and we have limited training time. Our weave channel had 12 poles, was 20cm wide and we were working on mild distractions such as me stopping or turning in the other direction while she is running through. I thought I would add this post even though we haven’t done that much in terms of the points below. I plan to make a video once we start training weaves again.
Transferring knowledge to new equipment
If you did initial training on different equipment than your regular channel, spend a couple sessions building entrances on new equipment. I like to start with 4-6 poles in a 50cm wide channel so that the dog gets rewarded soon after the entrance. With Ruby and Java I got to 45-degree entrances in the first session and to 90-degree entrances in the second.
After that I quickly add two poles at a time to get to 12 and start closing the channel so that the dog needs to work more to stay in the channel after entrances.
Closing the channel
Difficulty of entrances increases when the channel gets more narrow. The dog might start coming out of the side of the channel. The solution is to move the two rows closer together slowly while practicing other stuff (distractions and distance) at all angles.
The last few centimeters of closing can take quite a while because the dog is developing muscle memory for weaving and in the end also learning that a straight line of poles is in essence the same as the channel, which is quite an “a-ha” moment for some dogs.
Up until now I wasn’t concerned with distance from the weaves too much, but at some point this needs to be addressed, too. I try to add a little distance during each new session while working on other things. Distance can make entrances quite a bit harder because as you restrain the dog you might think he’s pulling in the correct entrance even when he’s not. Also the added speed might mean that they will not turn sharply enough when entering the weaves. A miss here and there is not a problem, but if that happens a few times in a row the dog can pattern to enter incorrectly, so it’s better to make it easier or take a break than to repeat mistakes.
Up until now I have only regularly practiced up to 90-degree entrances as I was catching up on closing the channel and distance, even though Java was doing up to 180 degrees in the living room. I didn’t want her to practice those too much because at 50cm width she saw a very different visual pattern from what she will see on closed weaves. As I am closing the channel it’s time to reintroduce tougher entrances which are now doubly challenging: the dog must know which pole to wrap and needs to wrap it fairly tightly to stay in the channel.
The most important distraction to work on is handler’s movement: staying still, running with the dog, accelerating and decelerating, moving laterally away from the weaves, running backwards, falling, rear crossing before weaves, blind crossing and front crossing after the weaves etc. Then there are other distractions like throwing toys and treats while the dog is weaving. Silvia recommends to start working on distractions as soon as possible while teaching entrances and closing the weaves.