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Does this Mean 2×2 Training Doesn’t Work?

Posted on 05/20/10 46 Comments

At the recent IFCS World Championships in England Encore really struggled with her weave entries. Believe it or not I actually had people come up to me telling me they where concerned as they just bought my 2×2 Weave Training DVD and wondered if I felt they should train that way?

Too funny. First of all dogs are dogs, they are not machines, we would like to think they are infallible but they are also humbling.

Secondly because my dogs have been 2×2 trained I take a lot of chances on weave entries that others just won’t take. I take those chances to try to win. That is all. No you will not see others miss those entries because lets face it, the other handlers just wouldn’t try them!

(I apologize for this video, I was in a bit of a hurry when I put it together . . . but it gives you a good idea of what we went through:))

Thirdly Encore was off work for 5 months with some mysterious injury or illness. When I brought her back to work the one obstacle that seemed to bring on stiffness in her back end was the weave poles. So I avoided them. I avoided weaving of any type right up until the last couple of weeks before the event– and then I only did so while practicing courses — nothing extra. So for more than 5 months I didn’t allow Encore to weave. Regardless of how a dog is trained she will lose her finer skills if they are not refreshed.

And lastly. Encore does have amazing weave skills however they are not quite as brilliant as my younger dog Feature’s skills. The difference lies in the way they two dogs where trained. Encore was trained using the 2×2 Β methodology I wrote about in articles (and in the back of Shaping Success). When Feature came around I had made a few tweaks of improvement. Rather than just trying to “teach” the dog to weave– I as I went along with Feature, Β I always included massive attempts to get the dog to fail in order to further along the understanding of what was and was not acceptable to me. I think that is the biggest difference between the two dogs. Soo if you are following along the methodology I have outlined in the 2×2 video your dog should be brilliant and even if you are using the older information the weaving should still be better than most other dogs out there!

But I won’t discredit Encore’s abilities because she still has skills very few other dogs out there possess (as evident from her 2008 IFCS Snookers Gold Medal Run.)

No, I do not feel pressure living in my fishbowl where people are always going to jump on any errors by my dogs or me as terminal ends. I do agility because I love my dogs, I love to compete and I love this sport. That is why I can walk away from near misses at world championships without losing a single night of sleep (I have slept like a baby every night since I left home) and I leave the weekend loving my dogs every bit as much as I did before the weekend began, possible more because of how hard they try for me.

That is my wish for all competitors, to walk away from disappointments without losing anything in your relationship with yourself or your dogs.

I leave you with Encore’s Jumpers run from the Biathlon where she came within a few hundreds of a second of first place. With her being more than a second behind Feature on her runs, I don’t think she is back to 100% but looking at her jump style she is 100% better than she was 5 months ago!

Today I am grateful for Johnny B, who is patiently sitting around this hotel room waiting for me as I write my blog while we are “on vacation.”


  1. Wendy Johnston says:
    Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 1:16am

    I think anyone who knocks 2×2 just doesn’t understand it and hasn’t the patience to try. I retrained my 4yo kelpie from the DVD with fantastic results. Again, at home entries from just about anywhere and with whatever distractions you can throw at him. But, it doesn’t always work in a trial depending on the course,distractions of handler (of course) etc! Thanks a million Susan for the DVD and getting me over a massive training ‘block’.


  2. Lahni Thompson says:
    Monday, February 6, 2012 at 7:05pm

    I just found a quote by Albert Einstein that reflects what is going on with the critics

    Great Spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds

    Keep up the teaching Oh Great Spirit or Lucy or even Susan


  3. Lyn Brakke says:
    Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:42pm

    Great dialogue and BTW love the 2×2 method.


  4. Lahni Thompson says:
    Monday, February 6, 2012 at 12:51am

    I love the two by two method and notice that every dog I train with it gets better than the last. As well I think that keeping to criteria and not skipping steps improves outcomes lahni thompson


    • Susan says:
      Monday, February 6, 2012 at 12:55am

      @Lahni, LOL, funny how that “not skipping steps” helps eh? Thanks for your comment and happy to hear it is going well for you.


  5. Wendy says:
    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 2:39am

    Susan, they are awesome weavers. So sometimes it doesn’t quite happen. I was in a position, after an operation, of not being able to do much running around and with the 2 x 2 DVD was able to re-train my 3 yr old Kelpie. The result was fantastic! I have never been able to do the things I did after the re-training. We are going through a patch of ‘don’t know what the weavers are’ in competition. So, back to the start with the 2 x 2 method to help my wonderful, loyal companion. A Million Thanks.


  6. Stephanie Burns says:
    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 12:28pm

    Susan – the 2×2 method is amazing. I waited until my puppy was 15 months old before starting her on weaves. We had a week off of our agility class – so I took the two weeks between classes to teach her to weave. When we returned to class, she was weaving 12 straight poles from hard entrances. I can run past her while she weaves – no baby sitting the dog in the weaves. There were a lot of questions from the other students – 2 by what? Where do you get that DVD? I can’t imagine another method working so well and so quickly.


  7. Amanda Albretsen says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11:00pm

    Your 2X2’s are great. I use them all the time!


  8. Norm says:
    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 6:38am

    Well I’m currently saving up for some 2x2s and your video, and this hasn’t put me off at all. Of course we make mistakes when we’re trying something new and challenging, when we’re pushing boundaries. Sometimes it pays to play it safe, but other times we need a challenge – and that goes for dogs too.

    I’ve been in a similar situation to Encore myself. I’m a yoga teacher. If I get ill or stressed there are people who say that must mean that yoga doesn’t work. Well yoga doesn’t make me not-human or infallible. but it does improve the quality of my life immeasurably. In the same way, Encore’s life is all the richer for having such great training – and a trainer who recognises that perfection is not the ultimate goal.


  9. Lyn says:
    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 12:32am

    Thanks for that – my young sheltie is coming along well 2 weeks into his 2 x 2 training. I’ve trained 3 dogs before and it took months to get the weave action happening and I can never rely on the entry without a huge amount of handler help. Dougie, with your help has an amazing understanding. And without meaning to be nasty at all it’s reassuring to see that top dogs do occasionally miss. Susan – your dogs are not only amazing, they are incredibly happy and I’d rather have that any day than a robot.


  10. Hannah says:
    Monday, June 21, 2010 at 4:30am

    I’m new to this dog agility as our border collie been a therapy dog and you did give me an awesome idea about that 2×2 training..


  11. Kim Duff says:
    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 7:28pm

    What a load of bullshit!!


  12. Michelle says:
    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 10:25am

    Another 2×2 convert here!

    I haven’t put much time into my youngest dogs weave training yet, partly due to lack of space but mostly because even our quick 2×2 training has made her weaves much more reliable than her other agility skills, so we have been focusing elsewhere in our training. We have worked entries from every angle and she is great, but haven’t had the oppurtunity to practise these at speed ever until tonight… wow she has blown me away, getting tough 90 degree entries, both sides at top speed, first try, every time, 100% sucess rate all session! I guess with the 2×2’s the dogs understanding is built up so well that even when things change a bit the dog still knows what to do. Great that it gives me time to work other things (like contacts… ugh!) and also saves alot of repetitive weaving stress on her body since I have never had to drill anything in her weave training. The only sad thing is, we never seem to see any weave challenges in trials that are even close to “hard” now, we would love to show off our great 2×2 skills! πŸ™‚


  13. Nicola Garrett says:
    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 4:39am

    Hi Susan what a great job you did with both girls especially after the break that Encore had. Feature was amazing and coped so well with the atmosphere and got a gold on her 3rd birthday, how fantastic!

    I have to agree that the 2×2 method is fantastic and after having trained a youngster on that method and used it to improve Wych’s weave entries I would never use another method again, but dogs and people aren’t machines and we all make mistakes.

    I agree with some of the other postings that we need a contact DVD now!!


  14. veronica says:
    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:50am

    All I can say is this 2×2 weave method is a very clever invention and “yes” it works and so fast.I am not an expert trainer but just used this system on a very beginner dog and the results are amazing.Still need proofing like all things ie memory and muscle development etc
    Thanks Susan
    Veronica( Australia)…its a winner.


  15. Wendy Atkinson says:
    Friday, May 21, 2010 at 1:21am

    I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~Louisa May Alcott

    Thank you Susan.


  16. Kari says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:00pm

    That’s too bad that folks would question the training method just because of one off day. Personally, I think that 2x 2 method really does rock! Being new to agility and to training — it is the first thing that I have trained my dog where I feel that I have done a good job. I love the method!


  17. Nat says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 8:41pm

    I wouldn’t expect any dog to be perfect in Encore’s circumstances! Nevertheless, Encore did incredibly well at IFCS Worlds, especially for being on rest for 5 months.



  18. denise says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 7:02pm

    Encore is brilliant to have run so fantastically well at the championships. We wouldn’t expect any human athlete to be at their very very best after such a long lay off immediately prior to an Olympics so why should a dog be any different? Despite her long break she still had some blistering runs….. that Jumping run was a cracker…. you really couldn’t ask any more of her than what she gave you. You’re blessed to have such a willing partner.


  19. Christine says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 6:27pm

    “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. ”
    ~ Cadet Maxim

    Curious of they were competitors or spectators… : )


  20. Deb Bogart says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:58pm

    That’s it…I’m selling my 2×2’s, giving away my DVD, not allowing my students to train on 2×2’s and never going to teach my 2×2 workshop again. I mean, if one dog struggles in one competition after not training for over 5 months because of lameness, there must be something terribly wrong in the methodology. I’m bringing back the channels, wires, gates, etc. πŸ˜‰

    Seriously though, I love seeing your dogs run when they nail a spectacular entrance and even when they struggle (which isn’t often). Just watching you work through the problem on course similarily like you do in training is great. Just like you said, dogs and their handlers aren’t infallible, but I think it’s how they handle their struggles in training and competition that help them achieve their goals. I love the 2×2’s and am amazed at how well they work in teaching the dogs to think about their job.

    Thank you for sharing.

    And to address what other people have posted above about wanting you to come out with a contact DVD, just like Jef Blake stated in his training video….if Susan would just get off her lazy butt and come out with a DVD to train contacts, then I will come out with a video to tell everyone else to go out and by Susan’s DVD πŸ˜‰



  21. Mary M says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:53pm

    “That is my wish for all competitors, to walk away from disappointments without losing anything in your relationship with yourself or your dogs.”

    Nicley said!!!!


  22. Karissa says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:28pm

    I thought that Disc 2 of the 2 x 2 training video was AMAZING to watch, if nothing else because it let me sit in awe of all of the mind-bending weave entries I got to see performed. Not that all of the previous videos I’ve watched of your dogs wasn’t enough to impress me, but that solidified my decision to use the 2 x 2 method on my young BC. We’re waiting a few more months since she is only 9 months old, but I can’t wait to start. I got my 2 x 2 bases last Friday. πŸ™‚

    I tell you, the first time she misses a tricky weave entry at a trial, I’m just going to ship her to you and send you a bill for all the wasted training I did. hahaha


  23. Trudie says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:15pm

    I like my dog! I like my haircut! I like my 2×2 weaves!
    Coming at the weaves from the other end with dog on my right, my dog never misses to wrap around that first pole! But with dog on left, well, there’s something about that entry …my dog will rush in one pole too far, repeat the same, until I can see him visibly thinking “Oh yeah…”
    I know non- 2×2 people who have to point out the entry or use obvious body placement – nay! nay!
    Sorry, I prefer a thinking dog, and I don’t care if sometimes “fools rush in”


  24. Andrea says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 3:30pm

    I think going through the 2×2 method is truly one of the coolest dog training experiences ever. It is so incredible to see how a dog can go from having no idea what the poles are to weaving 12 poles and nailing crazy entries in such a short time and most importantly having fun doing it, it’s a totally reinforcing experience for the human too! I think everyone should try it with at least one of their dogs, and I’m sure they’ll never go back to any other methods.

    By the way thanks for posting the video’s. It’s Phoenix’s birthday today and for a present I let her watch a couple of Encore’s runs and bark like crazy at the computer screen. Obviously it’s not the same as having real thing but I think she still enjoyed it immensley πŸ˜‰



  25. Shawn says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 2:54pm

    You know what I loved after watching that video…. You never made it easier for Encore to go get the entry. You knew she knew her job and while you called her back to you, you didn’t go help her find it, you let her just go do her job. And of course she got it!


  26. Lyne Michaud says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 2:53pm

    It was too funny to read that – people are juste too crazy !
    You did a great job, you and your 2 dogs – as usual – we are very proud of you – I know you must work very hard to have this constant success – Congratulations !!!


  27. Lee Carr says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 2:44pm

    I second the comment on a contact training DVD – my girl has fantastic weaves thanks to the 2×2 method… if only I could say the same about her contacts!! I’m just the type of learner that needs a ton of visual help.
    Spree has been in the same position of being off for over 9 months from weave training. I was surprised on how quickly her skills went away… but pleasantly surprised how they fast they are coming back πŸ™‚


  28. Misa Martin says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 2:29pm

    I was going to make another flip comment to add to the above but they have all been used up! Teaching the 2×2 method to my (then) 5-yr old dog turned the weaves into his favourite obstacle and pushed me to start challenging him in ways that I didn’t think were possible.
    Videos and stories are amazing, and your posting them is very much appreciated. Thank You!


  29. Ariel says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 1:54pm

    I love watching amazing dog/ handler teams like yours make mistakes! It helps keep everything in prospective for me. It reminds me that learning agility is an ongoing and process and that it is ok to push boundaries and make mistakes; it reminds me that growth is a greater goal than perfection.

    I look forward to the day when I have the courage to send my dog into the poles at an impossible angle then take off running the opposite direction to the next obstacle at a trial. It can be astounding how much the fear of failure can hold you back- maybe that is, in part, what separates the great agility teams from the average teams. I thank you for the inspiration, hits and misses and all!

    And as far as the 2×2 method- once you try it, there is no question about its amazingness!


  30. hornblower says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 1:21pm

    Wow, Team Canada did us proud!

    I LOL’d at your Weave Struggles video – da da da doom scary music!

    Meh, people are always finding things to pick at & squabble over (like I hear some people speculating that in 2009 Silvia Trkman’s running contacts on the DW were responsible for her dropping a bar two jumps later. Oy vey.)

    Sometimes dogs lose their brains. Sometimes people lose their brains. That’s the game & I’m SO glad to hear you talking about loving your dogs, & being so happy and thankful regardless of how the finish list looks.

    And I also like how you’re always refining & changing & developing as a trainer, finding the ways to best explain to dogs what it is we want them to do. You’re a real gem & so generous with your knowledge. Thank you.


    • Lyn Brakke says:
      Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:35pm

      Super dialogue, even though reading it late. I so agree sometimes dogs loose their brains and sometimes people do! Ha ha and sometimes it happens at the sametime!
      Susan, love your blogs and teaching style. “I leave each competition loving my dogs more whether we have won or not.”


  31. Jo says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:52am

    Susan – Congratulations on having a fantastic time in the UK. As a UK fan I am unlikely to ever be attending your workshops, so I was excited to see your rounds and to observe in person the fantastic bond you have with them both. Yes there were course errors and because you put yourself out there (to help others achieve success I might remind people) there are those that immediately want to focus only on those errors. Perhaps those people would like to produce a DVD or book to explain how they would train the obstacles more successfully? As a spectator I will admit I felt a momentary disappointment as the error occured – that oooh moment from the crowd – whenever any dog went off course – however the important thing was always how the handlers react to those errors and some of the loudest applause occured for those handlers who could still reward the dog when it went wrong. There wasn’t one dog giving less than 200% on those courses and it was a priviledge to be able to see them live. I will continue to use the 2×2 method and will be starting with my pup when he is old enough. Congrats again Susan – Fantastic to watch – Bloomin good effort!


  32. Taryn says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:28am

    I am yet another fan of your 2×2 method! I am just a so-so trainer, no illusions of this ever being more than a hobby. But even so, using just the 2×2 instructions in Shaping Success, I taught my younger dog to weave 12 poles in just 2 weeks and only one short session each day. He’s fast, and he loves the poles. Have we made mistakes at trials? Sure, but they were MY handling errors coupled with the amped up pressure of a trial! I tell everyone who asks that they should train with 2x2s!!!


  33. Andrea Rigler says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:54am

    I like that you push right to the edge and sometimes a bit over. I think that when we’re challenged, even if by other people when we falter, we have a great opportunity to grow. I’m sure there is a quote out there somewhere that states that perfectly eh Susan?


  34. Kathy Smith says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:46am

    Well I gotta chime in here.. my two oldest girls were taught a combination of channel and shaping by me. My next boy who is now over three, had the benefit of the 2 x 2 method but only up to a certain point as the DVD was not out yet. His weaves are pretty awesome and the girls were retrained along with him but he was still much better than them.
    My youngest boy who is not yet 2 has the best weave entries of them all but in competition he sometimes misses but he just started competing. He is amazing to watch weave and I know he needs to think more in competition. The difference between him and my 7 year old dog is no comparison… she is good but not like him and he had better weave entries than all of them at 18 months!! 2 x 2 is an amazing method and so much fun! My only complaint is the dogs like the weaves too much!
    IMO they are going to miss at some point or else you are not challenging them enough or they are not going full speed at those weaves…


  35. barrie says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:15am

    While I am still not 100% with you on the anchoring issue *g* KUDOS to you for your successes and sharing yourself, your dogs and your knowledge with the world so generously πŸ™‚


  36. Kathy says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:14am

    What? You have dogs and not Autotomatrons???? Say it isn’t so!
    I had a blast teaching my young dog the 2×2 and wouldn’t go back to any other method. Bummer for people who chose not to!


  37. Jan DeMello says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:06am

    oh good grief! dogs make mistakes, people make mistakes. Without mistakes learning is stifled and higher achievements are never reached. Playing it safe is just that. For anyone who has never taught weaving using the 2×2 method, it is they and their dogs that are missing out and ‘playing it safe’ to put it down.
    Simply put, the 2×2 method is genius which outshines and outdates any other weaving method to date. Susan has grown into being a trainer that goes outside the box time and time again not content to ‘play it safe’


  38. Suzanne Wesley says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 9:34am

    Well said Susan! A philosophy I hold as well, to leave the weekend loving my dog every bit as much as I did before the weekend began NO MATTER what happened. I was glad to watch my videos from that event and see that I had a huge smile on my face after every run and a hug and kiss for my dog! Sonic had perfect weaves this past weekend in England and I can assure you that it was because we trained it with the 2×2 method. He aced them all. But dogs and dogs as you said. It is what it is and “stuff” will happen. I often wonder how you cope with being in that “fishbowl” and am glad to see that it doesn’t affect you!! Kudos to you and your dogs. You did a wonderful job this past weekend at the WAC and had some amazing runs. I tried to watch them all and as always was impressed.

    Suzanne Wesley
    & SONIC


  39. Sally says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 9:11am

    I should also add it takes a very carefully thought out method that enables people from around the world to take what they see on a dvd and read in your articles and not only replicate it but translate that into success of their own. Now just wish you had a similar dvd out for teaching contacts. The thing I loved about the 2×2 method is that it was simple enough that you could take what you watched on the dvd and work through it yourself methodically and still get awesome results.


  40. Sally says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 9:07am

    I am another one who would never teach weavers now except using the 2×2 method. My youngster at her very first trial nailed a reasonably difficult weaving entrance that lots more experienced dogs were fluffing up (she was entered in an open jumping class which had dogs from all levels agility champion titled dogs included) and in fact had huge compliments paid by a number of spectators on how nicely she had managed it for a very baby novice dog. The whole run was something magical but the weaving entrance particularly so.

    As everybody has said dogs certainly aren’t machines. I thought your runs were all first class as always. I don’t think anybody should blame the failures on your method and those that do probably only are jealous of your success.


  41. Mary Lou Hanlon says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 8:29am

    Fab biathalon jumpers run with Encore and that weavepole entry that Feature did was amazing.

    I chuckle also when people expect the dogs to be machines and never make mistakes. Just think about normal tasks that we humans do day in and day out yet some days we have an oops. Just today I slipped while walking UP one of the many steps in my house. Fortunately aside from a momentary YIKES! I didn’t hurt myself.

    For the concerned public out there the 2×2 method is awesome!!! My young Shazam was trained with the 2×2 method that is on the DVD and his weaves are awesome. For such a young dog he can hit entries at speed that would be challenging for many experienced dogs. Now his weaving skills are not yet as savvy as Feature;s but we’re working on it!


  42. Diana says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 7:31am

    I feel it was better for them to ask you what you thought went wrong then just figuring the training didnt work and returned the video. Maybe it was the way they said it? You guys looked great. Thanks for posting this. Diana


  43. Gemma Osmond says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 6:28am

    Thank you for posting this, especially your wishes for fellow competitors – that’s really important. I find it astonishing that people would query using this method after watching the girls make a couple of mistakes – but then those people would likely not end up on the World stage because they certainly won’t have the belief in their training methods and dogs as you clearly do. People like that frustrate me, but I’m getting better at learning to ignore the doubters. It’s more fun to go out there and work with my dog – who by the way, was retrained with the 2×2’s and as a result went from the British Kennel Club’s G2 – 6 in less than a year. We look forward to giving her little half sister some competition at the next Worlds πŸ˜‰


  44. Kay says:
    Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 5:54am

    I thoroughly enjoyed the two days of competition I attended, and Encore wasn’t the only one to miss that very tight weave entry! That Biathlon Jumping run was phenominal on an incredibly tight course….I held my breath the whole way round, I think everybody there was willing Encore on!! A privilege to be there for such quality agility!


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