2x2s and the Experienced Dog
This is a question that keeps coming up with dogs learning the 2x2s for the first time but have had previous experience with weaving.
What often happens with these dogs is that, even though you may establish the Reward Line, when you send the dog from high on the arc the dog often will choose the other end of the weave poles as shown here in the accompanying diagram 1. This is not at all uncommon. Even though you may have established “value” in the reward line, with a dog that is experienced a weave work they may view the picture differently. You are working against the competing “value” the dog has learned through the weaving he already has done. In that if the poles were heading out to the right in the diagram rather than to the left (as the reward line dictates) the dog would be correct.
I find the best way to avoid this conflict is to load up the reward line heavily first before going high on the arc. I see this with my own dogs when I am doing a 2 pole demo (with one of my experienced dogs) but it is quickly eliminated if I initially send the dog
from a position where there will be less confusion so the dog has a better chance at choosing correctly. That is, I don’t put the dog “high on the arc” before I have completely established where they the reward line is going (hence the imaginary rest of the poles) as in diagram 2.
Even though I don’t normally like sending a dog from a straight on or easy approach too often (what I refer to as the “thin slice of the pie,” ) I would not move this more experienced but currently confused dog out of the shaded area until he has chosen correctly at least 5 times in a row. ***NOTE: this is not the norm. Repeat, I will only do this with a weaving-savvy dog that is showing confusion.
If the dog is still struggling after you have heavily rewarded the correct “way” on the reward line for your dog, you can try to add a jump at the end as shown in diagram 3.
I really don’t like to do this because the reward often comes after the jump rather than after the poles but to avoid too many failures (too many is determined by your dog) I can see this option working. It is not something I have ever needed to do with my own dogs or my students dogs, likely because of all of the shaping they have had, but give it a go and let me know if it helps out those of you whose dogs are still struggling.
Today I am grateful for the great group of people we have at our contacts and weaves workshop the last two days. Major breakthroughs with a lot of dogs!