10 September 2008

Still teaching weave poles-a primer.


So Gustavo, I may have mentioned ONCE OR TWICE like four thousand times, has been really hard to teach weave poles to. In context, Ruby, my first agility dog, learned with a treat and some white pvc sorta poles stuck in a patch of grass in my yard with me never having taught a dog to drunkenly weave back and forth through a set of poles, and learned to have pretty darn fast weave poles somehow. Thanks for being a super genius Ruby! Have no idea how I taught her but you can guess it wasn't pretty. Her weave poles have slowed down a bunch over the last couple years with her aches and pains and phobias, but they're solid. If she ever misses a pole these days, is because I have done something so crackhead and bizarre that she is freakazoid and near meltdown state. In technical terms.

Otterpop learned super fast weave poles in like 3 weeks. Because that's how long I borrowed my friend's weave channel weaves for. And let me tell you, it is very motivating to teach weave poles fast when you know you have to give them back and you are SO SICK of lugging these giant metal nailbreaking finger pinchers in and out of the car and setting them up at the park where people are like TOTALLY STARING AT YOU FREAK WITH DOG PROPS or it's the elementary  school down the street so you go at like 6:30 in the MORNING FREEZING COLD o'clock so small children don't shame you with their stares, setting them up and involves giant leg bruises and not fitting in car and a lot of cursing. Good thing school hasn't started-sorry kids! Somehow it happened in those 3 weeks and gladly returned the poles. That dog will do anything for a frisbee. She may have other problems, but evil super genius, indeed. And now, you can send her into weaves from wherever you want. Super funny party trick in my driveway.

Schematic Diagramatic Channel Methodical

Gustavo. I bought you your own super fancy, powder coated set of channel weaves. Decided you were one year old and could learn weaves, and off we went. Used wires. Used cages. Methodically, carefully, using all my knowledge from all my agility careful reading of books and videos and classes and teaching others to run through poles. Whole MAGAZINE ISSUES devoted to teaching weaves. We studied. We make notes. I made hot dogs. OK, we did not make notes. But I did sing Buck Owens songs here and there.

And it went great. Wow what fast poles as I methodically and slowly closed the channels down in careful, tiny increments. Agility Jargon Alert! Do you get this fact, my non agility friends? Open channels=looks like a straight line with nothing to bump into for the dog. Fast! Closing channels means not so straight line anymore of dog running, in fact many poles a dog could bump into and learns to weave through them because now poles are the straight line.

Until the poles went straight. That last teensy bit, equaled, not weave poles anymore. Hi and Goodbye and Adios. Yes, these newly 100% straight poles were better for going around or through and out or something not the perfect, super fast poles of my dreams.

And we may have taken a practicing break. Or two. Or three. Don't tell Jim. With the super champion puppy. Due to actual practicing and perhaps champion being doesn't hurt.


But guess what we have this week?


7 comments:

Mary Schultz said...

Congratulations Gustavo and Team Small Dog! I can't wait to see Gustavo blasting through poles.

Also, I WANT an Otterpop-approved patch, too, to put on my agility sweatshirt!

We promise to do something to earn the patch. Does it just have to be weaves? We can do that!

It will be just like Girl Scouts that I joined but didn't last long enough for any patches on my sash. (I was a very good Brownie, though. Like Brownies.) Has to be sweatshirt instead of sash, though, for agility, I think.

Although, perhaps we could get a Project Runway designer to design an agility-friendly sash for patches and with a treat pocket. Maybe velcro so it doesn't flap around. Maybe could have other patches for our multi-million-dollar corporate sponsors who will pay for our agility lessons and seminars and trials!

But, at least I really would like an Otterpop-approved patch. Think about it.

Agility Foot said...

I have the answer to your weave pole problem...BC

Elf said...

Dang dog brains. I taught Tika how to weave in, like, 2 weeks. We had trouble with everything else in the universe, but from Day 1 of competition, I knew that she would always make her entry and always go all the way through to the end. Fast.

So I am a super studly weave pole trainer now, right?

So it took me maybe more like 3 weeks to teach Boost weave poles when she was about a year old. We were way ahead of everyone else in our puppy class in weave poles (except Tammy and littermate Derby). She made Tika look slow.

And that lasted about 3 months, and then they fell apart. We've been trying to put them back together again for 2 years now, and it finally seems to have stuck--she has gone back to doing the same simply amazing weave entrances and speedy-all-the-way-throughs that she did when she was, oh, say, 13 months old.

So, OK, super studly weave pole trainer, I ask myself, how come the FIRST dog gets it and the second dog has to think about it for 2 years? Myself doesn't have a good answer.

The point being that some dogs are wired more for certain behaviors and we have to be thankful for those other things and just work on the issues per dog. Like not every human learns every skill the same way or at the same speed. (Dang it.)

Best wishes to Gustavo from super-weaving Boost and especially Tika for super weaves forever.

-ellen

P.S. I want to earn one of those patches, too! I haven't put all my NAC, OGC, EJC patches on my jackets, but I would definitely wear an otterpop patch, proudly!

sclmarm said...

Our first three agility dogs took what seemed like forever to weave and we used a zillion different methods like WAM, channels, wires, etc. Fourth dog came with almost all the poles taught with hand in collar. Been a reliable weaver, but hand in collar for shorty dog=torture! Fifth dog shorty Nub learned in a couple weeks with expens on straight weaves and has awesome weaves! Sixth dog, same method as above, learned fast and weaves great. Starting seventh dog and we should see shortly how it turns out, but he is already bouncing with a nice rhythm.

My theory is no channels. I've never been successful getting them in line. I've also noticed this with my class dogs. Few channels to get the running fast and I think FEW as in half a dozen then right to in line poles with xpens, then wires and off as quick as possible.

For the recovering channel method dogs I go to xpens, wires, off and they usually get them.

cedarfield said...

I tried using WAMs with Devon (JRT) but wasn't successful. So I switched to channels and he learned to weave 12 straight poles in just a few weeks. I've heard people say not to take too long when using channels or the dog starts to rely too heavily on seeing the channel. Have you tried making the first few poles open and then the rest straight in line? Maybe your set won't allow that.
One thing I tried when I was transitioning from using the channels to using regular poles is to set up regular poles parallel to the channels and go back and forth between them. First doing one set, reward, then do the other set. I probably did that for a few sessions only.
Of course I still don't have great entries. I think it's because I didn't practice angled entries while the channel was open because I was worried about Devon becoming dependent on the seeing the channel. I plan to one day go back and open up the channel slightly while I work on entries. One day....

barjor said...

Hey

Read you post on the weave poles, and I had the same issue with my young BC. The channels were fine until we got to a certain spot. His was about 3 inches apart, and he couldn't do them anymore.

So, I lured him through a normal set. Had to get some shorter poles, and started with treat in my hand for a few passes. Then just my hand (same position) for a few passes, and then I raised my hand up for a few passes, and then no hand. It took a week of training it every day, and he had 12 poles at the end.

It clicked with him, and he's got very nice weave poles now.

Nice blog! You are very funny!

Gussie said...

I LOVE your diagram illustrating deterioration of weave performance. Only ham and the humiliation of hissssssing has ever worked for us. Particularly embarrassing when we practice in our local park, where the local kids know me as the mad hiss lady.