Ways to Teach Dog Agility Weave Poles

slant weave polesYou may wonder why there are so many different ways to teach the weave poles and the answer is fairly easy. Dogs learn differently and we keep finding better ways to teach them. The weave poles are the only obstacle in the AKC that have no practical use outside of dog agility. They are an obstacle that has to be taught not only to the mind but body of the dog as well. Dogs naturally jump and climb but not weave.

So just like some dogs are motivated by lettuce while others only really get excited by liver bits you have to work with your dog’s natural preferences and learning style. Some dogs do fabulously learning to weave using the 2×2 method and others do better in channels, or slanting weave poles. Some dogs need the help of wired weaves to get their muscle memory down or to stop them from popping out. There is the possibility that it is the trainer who understands one better than the other which translates to clearer communication with the dog. This allows the dog to learn quicker with one method over the other.

Regardless of which method you use, if you are having difficulties either with yourself or your dog, experiment. If you use stick in the ground weaves, it’s easy to change between methods! Just change the layout of your weaves and you’re good to go. If you are working with a trainer, ask them to help you work with another method first. Find the method that works for your team, you want happy weaves so use what makes you and your dog happy to weave.

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The Pause Box in Dog Agility

dog agility pause boxThough pause boxes are not as common as the pause table in American competitions, the pause box is a great way to teach your dog the pause you will find in most agility courses. Plus, if you are short on room the pause box is a great space saving, easy transportable, and inexpensive alternative to a table.

Use it the same way you would a pause table in the middle of your course and teach your dog to stop, lie down and sit inside the box. In UKC competitions there can be the added challenge of distance. The handler has to stay behind or outside the marked area and send the dog to the pause box and perform the necessary position called for on that course.

It can be a very challenging obstacle as pausing is a problem for many dogs as agility is about running really fast and jumping for them. It is hard for them to settle for those few seconds, especially when a sit or down is required. Which makes it important to train the pause in a way that makes your dog enjoy the obstacle.

It can also be a challenge for a dog to “see” the box when they are running full steam. This requires training as well to a verbal command to help the dog “look” for the box, especially if you are competing in grass. Great fun with the help of toys or targets.

To make the obstacle even more challenging in UKC rules state that “the side of the Pause Box closest to the previous obstacle is the correct entry side, and the side closest to the next obstacle is the correct exit side, which the dog must use to receive full credit for the Box. This means you will have to train your dog to change angles inside the box! All great training even if you and your dog never see a pause box.

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Can Blind Dogs Compete in Dog Agility

blind agility dogFor most that is a silly question as it seems very obvious that it would be far too dangerous to run dog agility with a blind dog. Well, the authorities agree, you cannot compete with a fully blind dog. However, while you may not be able to compete with a blind dog, they can benefit from body awareness exercises as long as you keep their safety in mind at all times and take it slow.

And while you may not be able to compete with a completely blind dog, several venues accept dogs who are blind in one eye or have visual impairment.  Some dogs are diagnosed with Collie Eye Anomaly which results in serious holes in their vision. Depending on the severity and the dog, they can do just fine once they learn to trust their handler and work around their disability.  Some dogs, have what is called Early Take-off Syndrome (for more information, check out  Linda Mecklenburg’s site.)

Once your dog is diagnosed with a visual impairment, discuss with your vet first and then your trainer, on how to proceed with training for your dog. Maybe verbal commands would be better, or handling from their seeing side. Your dog can learn to negotiate a course with slow, consistent training that allows your dog to build their confidence and find the best way to communicate with you on course.


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