If you’ve ever been witness to an agility competition, you may be familiar with some of the staples of the agility course. Things like tunnels and jumps are quite common, but one of the most familiar and recognizable obstacles is the weaving poles. These poles stand upright and allow for a little bit of wobbling as the competing dog weaves in and out of each pole, showing off an incredible amount of speed, control, and intelligence.
Weaving poles require a very specific point of entry and exit and are often placed somewhere in the middle of the course, meaning that the competing dog must not only rocket into them with incredible speed, but also know how to navigate them, and where to go from the exit. This is a difficult trick to learn, but once it’s mastered, it can definitely please any agility competition judge out there.
Learning the weaving poles is a necessity for any dog that is training to compete professionally. However, even if you’re not training for competition, the weaving poles offer an opportunity to practice obedience, speed, and keep your dog mentally engaged while getting exercise and having fun.
The obstacle consists of six poles to begin with, but often have twelve within the typical competition environment. In competition, it’s generally required for the dog to enter from the right side of the first pole and exit to the left of the last. Starting with this configuration can keep your dog from becoming confused later on and is generally recommended. In addition, this type of training is only appropriate once your dog has finished growing. The right age can vary, depending on the breed. Consulting a veterinarian beforehand is important, as repetitive movements before a dog is physically ready for it may cause damage or injury.
Weaving poles can be found at local agility clubs, purchased online, or created yourself, but ensure that you have regular access to them to train every day. Try to keep your setup as close to regulation as possible.
To begin training, grab some of your dog’s favorite treats or a toy that can be used to lure your dog through the course. Figure out what is most appealing to him and can encourage him to perform what you’d like him to. If you’d like a bit more control over your dog’s whereabouts, feel free to use a leash. Training for the poles is best kept short and sweet to avoid overworking your dog’s muscles, but a mastery of the obstacle will come in a few weeks if training is done on a consistent basis.