How to teach your dog to weave!
Watch a dog hurtle through weave poles at a dog agility show is one of the finest things you can see! Doing any activity with your dog is great fun and bonding for the two of you, but there is just something so exciting about doing weave poles together- hence why we have installed some at The Bark Park! Not sure how to get started? Follow our steps to begin ‘weaving’ with your dog.
Positive reinforcement is how we are going to train this behaviour. Make sure that you have some tasty and high value treats for your pup or dog (something he or she loves and doesn’t usually get – we love chopped Sprats or Pure Pate) and that he or she isn’t over tired and is ready and excited to learn!
Start with a piece of food in each hand and coax your dog to walk between your legs. Some dogs are nervous of walking under people, so be extra calm and still and really praise your pup when he or she does it. If your dog isn’t food motivated, try luring your pup with a favourite toy instead. Dogs are motivated by different things!
Once your dog has mastered running through your legs following the treat or toy, the next step is to have him follow your empty hand, and reward when the dog does this. This may take a few attempts, but persevere.
Now your pup is used to following your hand and he is comfortable going in and out of something, you can introduce the poles! Weave poles can either be set into the ground, in grass such as at The Bark Park, or can be on a long metal base, such as is used in agility competitions. In competitions, dogs always start to weave from the right of the pole with their left shoulder next to the pole, so with your dog to the right of the first pole, let your hand lead him around the first pole. He should be used to following your hand now!
As your pup grows in confidence and ability (most dogs love to do this!) add in more poles!
Once he is actually ‘weaving’ through a couple of poles, we recommend adding in a verbal cue – such as ‘Weave!’ or ‘In!’ or ‘Out!” (but you need to be speedy if using the latter!) Adding a cue word can take time and don’t expect too much from your dog right away.
If you are teaching your dog to weave in the Bark Park, be aware that it will be a lot harder for your dog to concentrate with other dogs around. Considering practising at home and / or hiring the park privately for some quiet time. Add in distractions after he has nailed the basics – not the other way around!
Congrats! You are on your way to ‘weaving’ with your dog!
Sarah is a long time dog owner, lover and has completed many courses in dog training and dog behaviour. She has a special interest in canine nutrition.