The Last Inch: Closing the Weave Poles

With both the 2×2 method and the channel method, you ultimately get to a point where you are going from offset (by just an inch or less!) to inline. Many dogs and trainers struggle with this final step in the process. I have seen many dogs with near 100% success with one inch offset poles, and near 0% when they tried to take that leap to inline poles.

I taught my 16 month old puppy Venture with the 2×2 method. I didn’t like the huge drop in reinforcement rate as I tried to close the poles that final inch. I ended up trying to close the poles, opening them a little to get some success, and trying to close the poles again. After a few sessions, I came up with the following plan:

  • Set up a set of six poles offset just an inch or two (whatever distance leads to successful repetitions).
  • Set up a second set of six inline poles nearby (I chose to put them in a line to ease the transition).
  • Run the offset 6 and reward, using the reward to move into position for the inline set.
  • Attempt the inline 6, giving him 2-3 tries before going back to the offset 6.

My thought was that he would have weaves ‘on the brain’; that having just done 6 offset, he would assume the next attempt was the same; that his reinforcement rate would be at least 33% (1 rewarded offset rep for every 2 non-rewards on the inline set); and that I would wait for him to figure it out.

That moment came during the very first session with this method.

This first video shows a recent training session (his 2nd using this method).

A low angle and video review highlights the difference in footwork between the offset poles and the inline poles at this early stage in his training.

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