Weaving In Washington

Posted on 07/05/09 20 Comments

The title of this post sounds a bit like an old Jimmy Stewart movie to me (okay, now I am dating myself!). Regardless, I thought I would catch you up on some of my teaching in Washington State last month. I had a Contacts & Weaves Day. I will post here about the weave work and to avoid making this post too long I will post about the Contact Session on my newsletter. 


To start the day I set up this evaluation course for all of the dogs to run first weave entry. I have set this sequence up many times on Contacts & Weaves Day in the past (in Sweden, England, Belgium, Canada of course around the USA).  As typical, in Washington only 2 of the 14 dogs at the seminar were able to hit the entry. So for the rest of the day I gave people the option; would you like to go back and work 2×2’s with your dog or have me set up more weave entry challenges.


Five of the fifteen people chose to have me work on sequences with weave challenges in them.  With a big USDAA event upcoming that weekend perhaps they didn’t want to change too much that close to the trial. For that group I set up what I considered moderate challenges (I didn’t want to demoralize anyone that close to the trial) and most of them had only a few hiccups in their dog’s performances.


For the rest of the group we did 2×2 work all afternoon with some awesome results. However, there were a few common mistakes that I saw repeated so I am going write about them here. Hopefully anyone reading this can avoid making the same mistakes when you train your 2×2’s.


Before I start though I am going to state for the record that I think all these mistakes can be avoided by watching and really learning what I am teaching in my 2×2 DVD before you try and train your dog.  While I was in Washington I got a lovely email from legendary American obedience trainer Jan DeMello. Although she doesn’t compete in agility any more, after viewing the 2×2 DVD she decided to give the method a try with some of her young dogs.  She got great results and wrote me a wonderful letter endorsing the method. It is great to get such positive feedback. Please feel free to post your comments to the blog and I promise I will get to your questions as well.  For now here are some glaring errors I saw in Washington that you should try to avoid.


1. Be certain you have a well defined reward line. I really don’t think this method will work nearly as well, (if it works at all)  if you do not have2x2reward line a consistent reward line for your dog. That reward line eventually grows into the full set of poles (see diagram).  It must be well defined in your own mind (a physical prompt for your reward line is never a bad thing).


2. Allow your dog to choose but do not build on a slow, uninspired performance. Yes the dog may do one or two repetitions slowly as they figure out there is value in the poles BUT THIS SHOULD IMPROVE!  Your dog should be running towards the 2 poles like he is racing another dog towards a big slab of roast beef that just fell off of your dinner table.  If he doesn’t,  do not go forward in training.


3. Arousal, be certain to have it before you start! Get your dog excited and you will avoid  scenario #1.  Tug is a good way, but if you dog does not tug YOU MUST RUN, really run to get the dog’s heart rate up so he is more energized before you allow him to move towards the poles!


4. Allow the dog to fail. Way too many participants panicked when their dog made ONE mistake! They would alter where the dog was sent from or worst let “V-set” with their body, or take a giant step towards the first pole, anything to try and set the dog up to not make another mistake. Mistakes are a necessary part of learning. If you have worked your dog up fairly to the point of failure and he has had a ton of reinforcement for the correct response, be brave and LET HIM FAIL! He will figure it out.


5. Keep your sessions short. End it early and keep your dog wanting more. Two-three minutes should be long enough especially at the 2

or 4 poles stage.


   Take my advise here, before you get your next dog, get my DVD and re-train your current dog using the 2×2 method. It will not only make your current dog better but more importantly you become comfortable with the method so that you and your next dog do not have the struggle of learning together!


Be sure to check out the newsletter (I will send it Monday afternoon so those of you that aren’t signed up, have a chance to get on board first) for the info on the contacts session in Washington.


Today I am grateful for a Sunday afternoon at home. Giving me a chance to catch up. 



  1. Stephanie Morris says:
    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:53pm

    I took the seminar with Susan in Washington with my little Border Collie Express. I am so absolutely impressed with the understanding the dog gets from FAILING and working through it. We were working 4 poles at 7 and 1 and now are weaving 4 straight and doing a jump prior to. It is almost impossible now to get her to fail…. RC’s are her weak spot but after 4 or so failures…she fixes it! I LOVE THE 2 x 2 ‘s !!! Thank you Susan!


  2. Patti says:
    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 1:55pm

    Out of curiosity, what is the typical handler path for this weave entry evaluation? Did handlers try to send their dogs, or go with them? What are the distances between jump-DW and DW-WP?


  3. Linda Harbury says:
    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:41am

    Just a comment about Weaving in Washington. I would very much have appreciated hearing some individual synopsis of our evaluation performances. Although my dog failed to perform the proofing drills, indicating a lack of understanding of criteria, it would have been instructive and fun to get constructive feedback.


  4. :Linda Kightley says:
    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 7:31am

    Got the Dvd and it is so great. Thankyou Susan Garret one day I will visit you in America. We are All training them.


  5. Marilyn Spitz says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 10:26pm

    This information has been really helpful. I am training my first agility dog and am flying blind a lot. I have been afraid to get my 15 month old Aussie too excited. I want to be sure I have control of him. I have your 2X2 DVD and after reading these comments I’ll go back to the beginning again. He does a set of six correctly but slow. We love the classes we go to and we love the back yard training. If I haven’t started getting ready to train by 5pm Riley comes to find me. Thanks for your newsletter and all the information your site provides. I hope that we will be able to take a seminar sometime.


  6. Karen in Santa Clarita says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 7:39pm

    Great to review your Weaves in WA comments. Re-trained my aussie Max on 2×2 weaves in March and your comments were reassuring that we are on track–Max now DIVES in between the first two poles, our times are faster, and he is single-stepping about 4-6 of the poles in a trial and STILL improving. Your comment about letting your dog fail is very reassuring–when Max fails in practice I always remember it’s good we found an area to strengthen.

    Saw your world’s video with the awesome independent dog walk contact–that was great! Glad you commented on independent contacts in your post–and provided exercises to work on them.


  7. connie wilson says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 4:54pm

    I taught my year old with the 2+2 in a very short time. I tested him on the 90% weave entry and HE NAILED IT!!! That is one great thing about the 2+2, it definitely teaches the dog entries. It took my older dog quite a while to learn using the channel method. The 2+2 is so much easier and alot more fun. THANKS Sharon for a great way to learn weaves! Connie


  8. Gillian Self says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 3:15pm

    I’m always interested to read about the 2×2’s as I am currently going through the process with my young dog. I am interested to be reminded about arousal of the dog. My dog is easily aroused by tugging and just playing and I was actually considering to tone it down as when he is so aroused he focusses on me, barks a lot and doesn’t even see the poles. Am I approaching this incorrectly??
    PS: Wanted to mention great post!


  9. Gillian Self says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 6:42am

    I’m always interested to read about the 2×2’s as I am currently going through the process with my young dog. I am interested to be reminded about arousal of the dog. My dog is easily aroused by tugging and just playing and I was actually considering to tone it down as when he is so aroused he focusses on me, barks a lot and doesn’t even see the poles. Am I approaching this incorrectly??


  10. Shannon says:
    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 12:23am

    I see so much advice to rev the dog up, rev dog up, rev the dog up…… I am finding I am having fall out from this practice of getting my dog, Jessie, reved up and excited by tugging and voice. I have been getting a dog that can go from calm to high in a second with any rewarding activity and fall out of spinning. This dog is a sheltie. Another sheltie, Susie, who lived with me for training and titling until recently, not related to my current sheltie, developed this same behavior and I am now thinking this has something to do with me rather than the dog. Thoughts about this phenomenon would be most appreciated. Thanks.


  11. Wendy Nydam says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 11:57pm

    Love your blog, and your 2X2 weave pole DVD has been very inspiring. My shy aussie’s attitude toward weave poles changed instantly when I started your method. I got him up to twelve poles with speed but he was still hopping so I did the string down the centre method and about the 4th pole in he got the right idea and started single stepping them, but when I put them straight he hops them again, how can the eighth of an inch make such a difference? Although he continues to go quickly through the weave poles at home, trial after trial he becomes a tortoise once again and thus my clean master standard run is once again point .63 seconds over time. Do you have any suggestions other then renting every Agility venue in southeastern Ontario?


  12. Sally says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 11:28pm

    I have recently trained my youngster using the 2×2 method and am in love with it and can’t understand why anybody would teach it any other way. I watch a number of older dogs who are presently trialling and there weavers are slow and not as driven as my youngster who at 15 months it still to young to trial. Its a bit embarrassing when your baby weaves as well as most dogs at the club (and better then some of the current masters trialling dogs) and that from woe to go even with a break in the middle, due to a number of factors and in part planned it really only took a month for her to weaving 12 poles. She is now at the stage where I can run her through different types of poles (base plated or non-plated – we still have some trials with non-plated weavers) so she has to be equally familiar with both and she is pretty reliable. Not 100% but I am continually pushing the boundaries.

    I was chuffed a week or so ago at training. We had been doing some weaving practice. I had put her away for a bit to run my older girl over the course. Well we then had practice time on any bit of equipment we wanted while we were waiting for the small dogs to finish to switch courses. I let my baby off and she left me (ran under a bar – oops decided we had spent not enough time building value for bars so went back to some one jump work) but went straight into the weavers and drove hard away from me and nailed all 12 will zero support/encouragement from me.

    Pretty impressed and certainly recommend the process to people starting dogs. I have toyed around with the idea of retraining my older girl but her weavers are ok and she is at the stage where I am winding down what I do and just hanging out for a few more passes to finish off titles before calling it a day.


  13. Mary says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 9:39pm

    Soooo Susan, I am curious did you set back up the evaluation sequence after the participants worked either the 2X2 or traditional drills and what where the results in the end….

    Also, please never worry about writing too much on your posts, I can’t speak for everyone (here’s me asking everyone else to encourage – trainers use your positive reinforcement skills here! – Susan to write, write, write!!!) but speaking for myself, I love the info and miss your input on the days I don’t find a new post. On these days I rummage through your older posts and see what I need to remind myself to work on!

    Thanks for taking time out of your day to help us all be the best handlers we can be : -)


  14. Jan DeMello says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 6:34pm

    You’re welcome!


  15. Chantal says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 6:30pm

    I wrote last week on the “Stuff about Susan” part of the blog about getting my little shy BC revved up with collar grabs. With your encouragement, I continued to make things insanily fun for her and the results are astounding.

    Before I wrote on your blog, I was always concerned that I should not get her “too” excited as I figured that the dog had to be able to have time to think to find the entry, boy was I wrong. So I started her again on 1 set and am proud to say that we are getting much better angles than ever before and yes, I try to spend little time straight on (*wink*).

    After watching your video from beginning to end again, I realized that I was a bit wishy washy with the reward line so I went out on the front lawn, and spray painted a white line on the grass and I spend more effort aiming right at it while watching the dog from the corner of my eye….. I guess that contributed to the success too so here you go, a little testimony on what you are talking about here….

    I am so encouraged that I am going to retrain the BC I am currently trialing with!!!!

    With my thanks


  16. Jan DeMello says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 6:09pm

    I so agree with Susan’s comment when she states “allow the dog to fail” not sure if it is appropriate to put a link to a you tube video but here is a you tube link to one of my dogs’s working thru his mistakes on entries.


    In one session it took him 7 failed attempts in a row before getting it right. followed by 3 mistakes, then 2 mistakes then finally getting it right on the first attempt. I just kept my patience (not always easy with this old dog trainer>) and allowed Prada to continue to figure it out which he did!

    I have now taught 4 dogs with the 2×2 method and I endorse it fully and have already convinced many Hob Nob owners to take the 2×2 challenge of which several have with great success! Thanks again Susan for such an outstanding weave method!


    • Susan says:
      Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 6:16pm

      Awesome, thanks for the link Jan!


  17. jenn says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 5:58pm

    hi susan

    i loved this post!! i have re-trained my young dog with the 2×2 method and would NEVER use another method again! I originaly used the channel method, but as you stated many times he learned to “see poles, run fast”. with the 2×2’s he has to think about what he’s doing and i love watching him think it through. when i look at that evaluation sequence i am confident that he could nail that entry without a doubt, now ask him to do that entry 3 months ago and i would have laughed!

    thanks so much for giving people the chance to learn this method and being supportive of those that are struggling. it makes it much more rewarding to students when we know your just a blog entry away for answers!

    thanks a bunch!!!


  18. Ligea Ruff says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 5:25pm

    A little off topic, but I’m sure you don’t have time to check comments from old posts…

    I’ve been cruising your website and archives all day and will probably be in Colorado Springs in August to join your workshop. I was wondering as another comment to your “I Just Don’t Get It” post earlier this month: how can we keep track of where SayYes is going to be outside of your home base? If I were anywhere near Alberton, I’d be signed up for every class series you’ve got – from puppy on, but being out here in the western US, I’ll have to be satisfied with DVDs and workshops. Knowing where the training is going to be would be great!

    And thanks so much for the wealth of information both here on your blog and on clickerdogs.com. It gives inspiration to newbies like myself.


  19. Nat says:
    Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 5:04pm

    Useful, thanks for posting! I know that neither of my dogs would be able to hit at 90 degree entry in the evaluation sequence. Something to work on!



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