When looking at weave training and/or frequent weave pole problems, it is not uncommon to have a dog who will make the correct entry between poles 1 and 2 but them NOT make the bend back between poles 2 and 3. This video shows a demo of one training technique that I use to put value on the bend between poles 2 and 3.
Dogs do what they get reinforced to do. Therefore, if I want to put value for my dog bending between poles 2 and 3 I am going to reinforce between poles two and thee. This means some training sessions with just 3 poles OR really good markers that give the dog permission to exit the weaves without continuing. In this video, I focus on training with just 3 poles but switch back to 6 to ensure she doesn’t think she only had to do 3 poles.
Dogs most commonly miss the bend between poles 2 and 3 when approaching the entry from the soft side so when practicing in this way I only work from that side but I do make sure to change my angle of approach throughout the session. What I do want to be fairly consistent on is where I reward at the exit of the 3 poles. Since I am really focusing on getting a tight bend between 2 and 3, I’m going to reinforce for an even tighter bend around pole 3 by reinforcing BEHIND the dog. While some systems only reward the dog forward, this can create a dog who is always wanting to drive forward and and get to the exit as fast as possible without the priority on bending to the right. It is also common to teach or train weaves with an even number of poles – 4 poles, 6 poles, 12 poles – but what that means is the dog is always exiting the weaves to the left. By reinforcing left and/or forward 100% of the time, I’m not building the value for rocking back and being to the right.
What to Watch for in this Demo
You will see I choose to use a toy reinforcement for this session but I also focused really hard on a consistent and timely toy makers. I use “get it” as permission for her to end the behavior and get the toy. You will see in the middle of the session she exits the weaves before I say “get it” and therefor she doesn’t get the toy.
For the first few reps in this video Surprise was very much wanting to drive forward to the end of the weaves. You will see that she does not bend around pole 3 very tight. After several reps of rewarding BEHIND her, she started to wrap pole 3 tighter which lead to her loading into the poles with more priority to bend right around pole 2.
Mid session I switched back to 6 poles to ensure she doesn’t think the new rule is to only weave 3 poles. She struggled at first so I was happy I decided to add this into the session. We finished the session with 3 poles to get back to reinforcing the bend around pole 3.
This was her 2nd time working this exercise (first time in over a year) and I was very happy with how things went. I would likely increase or decrease the frequency based on how much of a struggle the dog was having with missing the bend between poles 2 and 3.