Macula's still not ready for an agility class: she's improving (slightly) in the class we're in right now as long as we keep busy she stays focussed, but if I pause in the exercises her attention goes to the other dogs and she starts barking again :-( I still haven't figured out an effective way of getting her attention when she's this distracted most of the things the trainer has suggested I've already tried. Her last suggestion was a shaker can, not thrown, but shaken with a sharp yell from me. My concern is that this won't really be viable on a day to day basis not enough hands, usually but it's got me thinking that maybe a sport whistle would work...

Anyway, I was thinking that, if the good weather ever arrives (it's been cold and rainy all week), I might try working Macula with a couple of simple pieces of agility equipment in the backyard until she can behave in class. It would give her some mental and physical exercise, and give me something to do with her while the boys play (hopefully) in their pen on the deck. Weave poles were the one thing she didn't instantly figure out during our one course, so I figured that would be a good thing to work on.

The trainer we started agility with had the poles set into a piece of metal that sat on the ground. She used two of these contraptions to teach weaves: the first week she set them about 18" apart and had us run the dogs through them straight, like they were two walls of a corridor. As the weeks went by she would gradually move them closer together. Her theory was that the dog would learn to weave "naturally" as the poles got closer together. Macula would just run the straight line to one side or the other when the "corridor" got too narrow. Other times she would try to squeeze between the rows and knock an entire piece of the set-up down.

I was looking at dog-play.com's instructions for making weave poles, and I notice that there the poles start out as they will finish I assume the dog is taught to weave from the start. And how do I decide how close to set the poles to start with?
Any opinions as to which method is better? I've discovered with Macula that it's way easier to teach her something right the first time than to try and unteach something later.
Marie
Any opinions as to which method is better?

That all can be good.
After teaching a lot of beginner dogs how to enjoy aglity equipment, I'll stand by treats when it comes to weaves. Weaves are the most unnatural piece of equipment that your dog will learn in agility, so you have to make them fun. (Treat = food or sqeaky oe praise.)
I really believe in "muscle memory" when it comes to unnatural movements like weaves, but there are lots of weave training methods; Clean Run had a recent issue that you should read.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
I started w/the 2x2 method but it didn't work for us. That doesn't mean it won't work for you!
)
It just happened that at one point when the poles went from 10:00 and 4:00 to 11:00 and 5:00 she couldn't get it. I opened them up one inch and she was fine but any closer and she couldn't figure it out. I tried for 2-3 months to help her figure it out and decided to try another method.

I then used straight competition weave poles w/wires. At first I lured her through slowly and once she learned to stay inside the wires and weave through the poles I put a target at the end of the weaves with a not-to-good treat so that Kali wouldn't be so excited that she jumped the wires. I practiced everyday with the wires and after a couple months slowly moved them higher and higher (starting with the center wires) until they were over her head. Once over her head, I started to remove them, starting with the center wires. Kali has really good weave poles but does pop out at #10 sometimes. Doesn't matter, I doubt that we'll ever compete. I wanted to get started this spring but baby-making plans are getting in the way!
Kristen and
Kali CDX, CGC, TDIA, TT
www.kristenandkali.com
SKIP> I wanted to get started this spring but baby-making plans are getting in the way!

Not to be nosy but what have I missed?!?!?! Are congratulations in order?? :-))
Marie (who finds she misses a lot of ng news now that her babies have been made)
I notice that there the poles start out as they will finish I assume thedog is taught to weave from the ... with Maculathat it's way easier to teach her something right the first time than to try and unteach something later.

All three of dogs were taught to weave with the poles in competition position (Bren and Mw, with guides on the outside to show them the correct path) and all three of them got the idea of what to do the first time I spent concentrated time on it (as opposed to brief stints in class). The process, with all three dogs (condensed version!) was to head them towards the weaves, initially marking and rewarding entering the poles correctly, then asking them for a bit more and a bit more until they went from one end to the other.
Bren had done channels 2-3 times in class, and didn't get the point. The first time we worked after class with straight weaves and guides, he figured out what to do in a few tries; ten minutes later, I took the guide wires off, and he never really needed them again. I DON'T recommend taking wires off first session - Brenin's instant grasp of them was highly unusual!

Morag and Rocsi never did channels at all. Mw got the idea of the path to take immediately, but didn't see the point of doing them fast (or doing them at all, really) until I put her away and did them with Brenin in front of her. When she was hyped up and wanting to work with me, I got her back out and tried again; she ran past the weaves, turned around, hit them at speed, and wove back to me - AFAICT, she got the idea of what to do by watching Bren.
Having once done them fast and correctly, she then tried every other possible way to negotiate the obstacle- she'd do them once correctly, get rewarded, then try an alternative creative way and not get rewarded. After about fifteen minutes, having tried everything she could think of, she was sure of what she was supposed to do.
Subsequent practice/patterning was done with guides; with her, it was a couple of months before I started taking the guides off.

Rocsi was taught with a clicker and no guide wires. It took 15-20 minutes from clicking a correct entry to six weaves from beginning to end; IIRC, she was 5 months old at the time*. Subsequent practice has sometimes been with guides (in class), sometimes without (at home). However, if I were to do it again, I would use guides for initial patterning, as I did with the other two.
*Important points of note:

1. I would NOT do straight weaves that early with a large dog. 2. Afterthe initial session, we never did more than 2-3 reps of weaves until she was much older. 3. Her ability to work that long, at that age, was VERY unusual- most young puppies don't have that sort of attention span.

One of the most important things to remember, incidentally- regardless of the method you use to teach: DO WEAVES FROM BOTH SIDES FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
I would never lure a dog through the weaves, as I want the dog to figure out for itself what to do- and I've seen WAY too many dogs trained that way who can't do the weaves in competition without the handler making hand movements.
All three of dogs

Whoops. Obviously, that should read "all three of MY dogs".
The trainer we started agility with had the poles set into a piece ofmetal that sat on the ground. She ... with Maculathat it's way easier to teach her something right the first time than to try and unteach something later.

It depends, honestly, on the dog and the handler.