The Two Way Communication of Training

Posted on 12/03/09 26 Comments

As we approach the one year anniversary of the release of my 2×2 Weave Training DVD I thought I would 

2x2 Weave Training DVD celebrates it's 1 year anniversary this month.
2x2 Weave Training DVD celebrates it's 1 year anniversary this month.

welcome any questions you may have that I have not yet answered.

By now there are likely thousands of people that have trained their dogs to weave using the 2×2 method. I get all kinds or great emails from folks raving about the experience and many of you have posted about the adventure on this blog. Thank you to all of you for taking the time to write.

Even people that are resistant to breaking away from their old “favorite” method of weave pole training are now at least training entries alone with 2 poles.  As a result, I see more and more dogs nailing difficult weave entires in trials. Entries that normally would handcuff a great number of dogs in the past. Bravo!

I would however like to comment on one small detail that irritates me. That is the issue of footwork. Striding problems in weaving are not all created by the same method, but they are created for the same reason.  Dog training problems grow from simple fixes to time consuming complex issues, when people don’t observe what the dog is learning as they are training.  I have seen dogs trained with the channel method of weave pole training, the 2×2 method as well as those that have been shaped to weave using a clicker. Regardless of how it happens, I think it is unnecessary for any dog to struggle with their footwork.


Now I am not suggesting that this is common with 2×2 trained dogs, the vast majority of dogs whizz through the method just as I demonstrated, with my dog Feature,  on the 2×2 DVD . In less than 7 days she had to-die-for weave skills. However, as I commented on the DVD, I altered her striding on day 4. I made adjustments when I saw the issue arise.  She was trying to go faster, but couldn’t figure out how to do it with her current 3 or 4 beat stride. She need more input from me, she needed to know who to accomplish the task at hand with a more efficient single step action.

Here is the take away point that we all need to remind ourselves of as we work with our dogs; training is a two way flow of information. You give the dog your input and immediately your dog will give you feedback on how he has processed this information. It is crucial, in all of your dog training, that you observe this feedback from your dog. This critical training information will come to you in the form of the dog’s actions. Observe what your dog is sharing with you and make any necessary adjustments immediately. 

Please do not press ahead with your training thinking “the dog will figure things out.”  Sometimes they do, but many times they don’t. This sort of training is often the reason why some dogs have painfully slow contact performances or trip over their own paws while trying to weave. 

Take the time to receive feedback from your dog and you will reap the benefits of a dog so brilliantly trained that he exceeds any expectations you could have possibly dreamed for him.

Today I am grateful for the feedback our dogs give us, sometimes it is subtle, but it is always there if you are looking for it!




  1. Sydney says:
    Sunday, December 27, 2009 at 3:44pm

    Love the 2×2 method and the dvd! What are your thoughts on spacing between the poles. My weaves (regular set and 2×2) are all 20″ on center. With AKC going to 24″ my regular set will now be 24″. Should I have my 2×2 made into 24″ for teaching and/or retraining a dog? Happy New Year to all at Say Yes.
    Sydney in CA


  2. Jenny says:
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 7:49pm

    Hi – I am retraining my min poodle using the 2×2 and just gone to 12 poles. She is driving in weaving & driving out – I am thrilled . She is so anxious to be sent in she is barking @ me !! is a miniature poodle expected to single step ?? or bounce. Also @ what point do you advise naming/cuing the behaviour with the word you wish to use in competition ?
    Many thanks


  3. Meghan says:
    Friday, December 11, 2009 at 10:18pm

    I need to watch the video again, but I’m stuck bringing the first 2 sets together to make the 4 poles. Whatever I’m doing wrong is confusing the poor dog.


  4. paulmac says:
    Monday, December 7, 2009 at 4:45pm

    Love this weaving method. I re-trained my weaves using the 2×2. I had some great remarks in class tonight for the hard entrance my dog made into the weaves.


  5. AL says:
    Monday, December 7, 2009 at 8:46am

    Well, count me among those who are having a footwork problem. But… the dog you used on the DVD had some sloppy footwork going on, too, and once the dog was weaving 12 poles, *then* you opened them up a little, and within a few reps the dog was magically single-stepping. So naturally, I didn’t worry too much that my pup’s footwork wasn’t great – I just followed along with the DVD, and it seemed like sloppy footwork at that stage was to be expected. (Perhaps that is a point that could be clarified if you ever revise the DVD.) However, opening the 12 poles up a little did NOT fix the footwork problem for us. Not at all. So now I am stuck, and I think I am going to have to re-train the whole thing with channels, unless anyone has a better idea for me? All my other dogs were trained with channels, and while it did take a little longer, they all had very reliable weaves and beautiful footwork.


  6. Chantal says:
    Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 10:55pm

    I have retrained my BC with the 2 X 2 when he was about 31/2 years old using the articles. That was way before the DVD came out. I did make some mistakes but we went from never either properly entering or finishing a set of poles to about 85% success. This summer, I trained my rescue BC using only the DVD and got great success and worked really hard at proofing my older boy’s weaves. But then got to the point that both my dogs were popping at the second last entry…. being that they both did that, I figured (turns out rightly) that I was doing something wrong. My trainer at a seminar suggested that I was throwing the reward too early. So I was given the exercise to call my dog over the weaves while slowly progressing to doing it from the very end and watching my reward timing. 4 sessions and that problem went away with both of them so I was able to resume sending my dogs again.
    Thought it was an interesting tidbit to add.


  7. Maria says:
    Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 6:01pm

    You wrote that questions are welcome, so I would like to ask one 🙂
    I’ve trained my dog using channel method – I made some mistakes and now I know I should have worked differently. Because of my mistakes sometimes she has some problems with entries.
    After watching your DVD I decided to try a bit of retraining, but I wasn’t able to do it properly with my dog. Running trough two poles was really easy for Una, but when I moved on to more difficult entries – she ran in the wrong direction. It is rather difficult to explain, so I prepared a “great” 😉 picture to give you the idea:
    Blue lines show running into the wrong direction, but hey! she passed poles having the first one on her left, so it is a correct entry!
    Of course it means that she ignored reward line, but actually this is something I’ve taught her during our all agility way! I don’t want my dog to run the way she remember, the way we did several times. I want her to react on my body language and on the situation. I don’t want her to run in some direction just because I threw a ball there a couple of times. So when there are only two poles and I’m not helping her with my body language she is choosing the way which is the easiest one for her in certain moment…
    What would you do in such a case?


  8. Jodi Altman says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 12:08pm

    Phew Andrea…now I feel much better.


  9. Kathy says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 9:44am

    I’ve only used 2×2 to retrain and build confidence for my 2 experienced dogs. I plan on using it exclusively with my almost 9 month old sheltie pup when he is over a year old next spring. He knows there is something he is supposed to do with those weaves. He offers a straight line run by, sometimes a run through combined with run by…he’s very cute. I was putting away equipment yesterday, took apart the tire jump…laid the frame on the ground. He was right there, pawed the frame, sat inside it, laid down inside it. Since he was being in the way. I gently picked him up and moved him out of the way…asked for a sit…got it. I picked up the tire frame and released him. He’s always looking for work to do, I expect weave training to be a snap when it’s time.


  10. Andrea says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 9:40am

    This doesn’t apply to just weaves as Susan mentioned. When I first put my youngest dog over the frame she was so slow and shuffling down. I think I wouldn’t have thought about it with my first dog and would have just assumed it would get better with time. Now I know that it actually could have become a fixed behaviour over time instead of getting better and luckily I was able to get expert help for my young dog right away and now she has a much better frame.

    Thanks Susan for all great training reminders. And yes Jodi – you’re paranoid 🙂


  11. Jodi Altman says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8:55am

    Am I just paranoid?


  12. Tracy says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8:22am

    Ha ha Jodi, I am sure it isn’t directly about you, but we have all certainly had the moment of : Wait, is she talking about me?!?!?!

    My young dog has just started 2x2s – it is fascinating to watch her hash it out because she is not necessarily built to be lithe, supple and flexible, but she is working hard to dig in and bend. She would also prefer to simply run (and maybe flank) when she gets really excited, and as we know running & flanking are not conducive to brilliant weaving.

    Her footwork is also interesting as the poles have gotten tighter- when she is on my left, she bounces – which I think is appropriate for a dog her size, but she doesn’t seem comfortable – her head is a little high, her back a little scrunched. When she is on my right, she is trying to single stride – I didn’t think she was big enough, but her head is lower and she seems more comfortable. Hmmmm. She isn’t wrong either way – the two of us need to decide what is best!

    So, I put it away for a few days to let it “cook” in her brain. I will also get her adjusted by the chiro, then go back to it and see what she says about the footwork – and, of course she will get some feedback from me!


  13. Sally says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 7:56am

    I used the 2×2 method to teach my now 20 month old and she has lovely weavers although her main issue with them is obviously a lack of proofing with me in the picture at the entrance. I am wondering how many others found this an issue. She has great independent weaving and will nail the really hard entries with ease so long as I am not there. Its been a while since I have watched the dvd and I am not sure if this is covered anywhere in the proofing section.


  14. Heidi says:
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 12:19am

    Love this weaving method. I re-trained my weaves using the 2×2. I had some great remarks in class tonight for the hard entrance my dog made into the weaves.


  15. Mary M says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:08pm

    Reading this post makes me question a previous assumption I made regarding footwork in the weaves….

    Is it inaccurate to think that some dogs (many small dogs I see) will not end up using the one foot method to move through their weaves, and this is more about structure of the dog???? This is my inexperience with multiple dogs talking, and I would love feedback on my assumption.


  16. Mary says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 7:24pm

    I trained my second agility dog, a Toy Poodle, using your 2×2 method..I followed it to the letter and reviewed the DVD and your articles prior to each training. My little dog started in agility classes two weeks ago (with the big dogs at the excellent level). She ran through the weaves so fast and accurate that the teacher thought she missed a pole but then realized that she didn’t miss any because she came out of them on the correct side. I watched her and RAN in front of her (laterally) and knew that she didnt’ miss a pole…she is just consistently FAST and ACCURATE. The instructor laughed and, I think, was embarassed at her mistake. I am SO GRATEFUL for the 2×2 method. Thank you Susan!!!


  17. Elsina says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 7:21pm

    I assume you’re talking more about dogs actually falling over their feet rather than the actual choice of a one-foot or two-foot striding pattern?

    My older, slightly larger girl was trained with a shaped two-pole method (not yours) in the days when dogs in my country were being stopped before the weavers, carefully lined up, and then sent (with mixed results). She one-foot strides and her weavers are accurate and independent but not particularly fast. My younger girl was trained by your 2X2 method (before the dvd came out, unfortunately — I’d have done a better job if I’d had it), and she two-foot strides, but she’s much faster. Interestingly, during her training, I knew that if I opened out the 2X2 poles only a fraction, she would one-foot stride, but then revert to a to a two-foot pattern as they closed again (and this was on 55cm [22 inch] spaced poles, and she was also going to have to contend with 60cm [24 inch] poles). I didn’t push for a one-foot pattern because you were down our way in 2007 and suggested that some dogs might be better being allowed to choose a two-foot pattern ( I think Encore two-foot strides?), and this dog is a little smaller and straighter in front than my older dog, and she seems comfortable with her choice; she certainly doesn’t struggle with her footwork.

    I wonder if your opinion has changed? Would you now tend to train a one-foot stride regardless of whether the dog seems comfortable with a well executed two-foot pattern? And does trying to change a dog’s striding pattern once it is established create more problems than it’s likely to solve?


  18. Jodi Altman says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 3:40pm

    I somehow get the feeling that this post may relate, in a big way, to Mr 2-Do and I. Note taken.


  19. Kathy Smith says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 2:42pm

    My young Kelpie (number four) is now 18 months and jsut on the verge of consistently striding through 6 poles. I think we are on session 10 but I have taken things really slowly so I should be further ahead but there is too much time between sessions as our weather has not co-operated. I am thrilled with this method! His footowrk is great through four and I will watch for the striding through six. As always, your advice is so well-timed for me!

    Regarding the vocalizing post, what about dogs who have always been quiet during training but start barking on course in their first trials? It never gets in teh way of his performance but I run accross so many people that really think that he should never be allowed to bark. I have never seen him make a mistake or a bar come down for barking…. I have missed the buzzer on a Gamble before though!!

    Kathy Smith


  20. Linda says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 2:35pm

    I think even an experienced trainer can make mistakes in judgment when on unfamiliar ground. I used the 2×2 method for the first time. I made a lot of mistakes in implementing it with my pup BECAUSE I did not immediately go with my “gut” instinct that my dog had a footwork problem. I worked through the footwork section in the DVD with only marginal improvement. I believe I created the problem because it was a new method for me. And not having used the system before, I thought my dog would settle out in his footwork over time. Definitely not so. He is paying for my mistake. I am addressing his core strength with exercise. I am working on confidence but the early mistake I made will haunt us for a long time. I wish I had simply listened to my dog and gone with my gut.


  21. Shannon says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 2:30pm

    Could you go into more detail about the dog not figuring it out on their own with regard to coming down the A frame and how to fix that (2o2o)? My retired MACh (she’s almost 12 now) never figured that out and I never could figure out how to explain it to her. The best way she every figured out on her own was slide slat to slat which was slow and meant having her toes run into the slats. She had a hard time figuring out jumping too, but that was helped doing work I learned at a Susan Salo workshop (as this helped explain it to her).


  22. Steve says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 2:05pm

    I completely agree. I’d like to add a key point, and that is it is difficult for many students to know *exactly* what the desired behavior should look like. Without knowing in detail what you want you can’t give your dog the information to move toward that goal.

    An experienced trainer will look critically at a behavior being trained and know if an early step toward the final behavior has elements of a problem that needs to be addressed now rather than later. That is the part of training that makes experience so valuable…


  23. Laura says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:55pm

    Did I miss the weave pole webinar that people sent questions in for, back in May?


  24. Ann says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:46pm

    So agree. I think dog’s are much quicker to read the info we provide than vice versa. And since you brought this up in the context of weaving, I’d like to tell you that my young guy, who had never seen weave poles before, nailed 12 poles in less than 4 weeks in about 35 sessions. I’ve never had so much fun training a skill. 2×2 rocks!


  25. Lynda Orton-Hill says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:42pm

    Great post Susan… same applies as I raise my puppy… he gives me input every session! Listening is my job!


  26. Kathy says:
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:07pm

    I have trained three dogs this year to weave with the 2X2’s after the dvd came out, and I am always amazed at the reasons people give that they still need to use their old standby way of learning ;-), and how many misconceptions people will relate to me when they are asking about the method. I have a puppy that will be learning to weave in a couple of months, and I will use the 2×2, but with the AKC using the 24 inch weaves in my area, and the USDAA using 21 inch weaves, I assume I can just use the spacing my current 2×2 have?


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