When teaching your canine pal a new exercise remember to keep the training sessions short and enjoyable. Your dog will master the weave poles more quickly if you break the exercise down into small steps. Ensure that your dog understands each step before you proceed to the next.
Using a food treat, toy or hand target lure your dog slowly through the weave poles. The dog should enter the weavers between the first gap moving from right to left. Reward the dog as he moves around each pole.
Once your dog begins to follow the lure fluently through the poles it is time to begin rewarding him randomly. Reward him for completing two or three poles in sequence.
It is now time to lose the lure. So keep your food treats in a treat pouch, or your toy hidden in your pocket. Direct your dog in through the gap and around the second pole using an exaggerated hand signal. When your dog moves around the pole use a reward marker such as a clicker or a special word to let him know that he has done well and will now be rewarded. If your dog makes an error start again. If you are consistent and clear he will soon understand what you are asking of him.
Gradually increase the number of poles. To keep your dog keen do this in a random fashion. For instance you may ask him to negotiate three poles before he is rewarded then four poles and then suddenly reward him for going around a single pole. This way your dog will learn that each pole has equal chance of earning him a reward. Dogs that are only ever rewarded at the last pole tend to skip past the middle poles in order to reach the pole that pays!
Your dog is now slowly and reliably negotiating 8 poles in sequence without a lure. Now it is time to step slightly away from the poles. ANKC agility requires a half metre exclusion zone between the handler and the poles. Initially stand only a few centimetres from your dog and gradually increase your distance as he becomes more skilled.
Now that your dog is reliably negotiating the weave poles with you at a distance it is time to increase his speed. So pump up your enthusiasm as you encourage him to move more quickly through the weavers. Have a friend time your dog and tell you if his last run was faster that the previous. If so give him a jackpot reward!