Weave pole problems

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Weave pole problems

Postby suemckee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:44 am

Hi all, I have just joined this group so had better introduce myself. I own a two year old Brittany. I live in New Zealand, there are very few Brittanies here and we adopted him as what we thought was a four month old but he was obviously a bit older, around six months. We've had our ups and downs but he is a lovely dog. He is the third dog I have trained in agility and he is proving to be a challenge. His nose dictates his behaviour and he is easily distracted. He is a very good weaver, but he will not weave in the competition ring and most often not at training, even though he definitely understands the job I require of him. Any thoughts? he runs past them, sniffs and generally ignores them.
I will no doubt have lots more questions, but this is a start. I have owned and trained two Vizslas in the past, one is now an Agility Champion, we also had a Vizsla that my husband ran and made up to Agility Champion also (two of the Vizslas are now at Rainbow Bridge, lived to be 14 and 16). Rez my boy Britt is different to my current Vizsla, but then she is now 10 years old and an "old hand" at the agility game. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it with him, but realise they are late maturers.
Any advice on training this young man would be appreciated, he can drive me to distraction but he has so much potential, it is heartbreaking at times.
Sue McKee
Rez (2 year old Brittany), Teezsa (10 year old Vizsla) & Switch (8 year old NZ Heading Dog)
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby Cindy » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:13 am

I can't be of much help since I've only done an intro agility class, but there are several people on this board who compete and are very competent - I'm sure they will chime in. I do know that Kayla was about 2 when I took her to the intro class. She could do anything and everything but absolutely HATED waiting for the other 3 dogs to take their turn. It was almost as if she was thinking "Why can't you figure this out? It's so easy! If you'd do it right the first time we could get on to the next activity." Rest assured that keeping your Britt's mind on one thing can be a challenge, especially if he's still pretty young.

Anyway .... hi and welcome to the discussion board.
Kayla RIP 10/2/15, Pippa, and Layla
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby Lisa » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:56 pm

Hi and welcome!!

I've been working through weave issues with my Brittany boy for almost a year now, and I think I've finally hit on the right combination of things to get him to weave. I'll share what works for us, and hopefully it'll work for you as well! Most of our trials are either on packed dirt in horse arenas or outside on grass. Buster understands the concept of weaving and inside my house, on carpet, he can do a flawless 12 poles. When we moved to the practice field, he was about 50% on the weaves, and in the trial ring, he was maybe 10%. I've now got him to do the weaves about 90% of the time at practice and 50% in trials. So, I figure that what I'm doing is working and we'll just keep practicing until he's 99% in practice!

So, first thing I did was teach weaves in a no distraction environment using a clicker to shape the behavior. Once he understood the behavior, it was just a matter of teaching Buster that weaving is more rewarding than sniffing the ground. Buster is easily distracted, so I've learned that once he's in the weave poles, he performs better if I stay silent and don't make any sudden gestures. Anything that distracts him from going through the poles will pull him out or get him to start sniffing. So, I tell him to weave, and keep my arm extended towards the poles until he's gotten to the second one, then I stay about 3 feet laterally away from him and about a step behind him as he goes through the poles. I make sure to stay silent and keep my arms and shoulders still and pointed straight ahead. His reward for completeing the weaves in practice is a getting to lick canned, stinky dog food out of a little container. I started this with just 4 poles, so that he'd get a reward quickly and figure out that weaving is worth it. Then, I went to 6 poles, then 8, then 12. In practice, I usually let him get a quick lick of the canned dog food before we start the poles, so that he remembers he's going to get something really yummy. Last class, he ran through the weaves like a Border Collie - fast, accurate, crouched to the ground...it was awesome! This after a year of him getting 3 poles in and sniffing or forgetting what he was doing or missing the entrance...well, you get the idea.
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby suemckee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:14 pm

Hi, Lisa and Cindy, thanks for the welcome and the replies. So good to know that I am not alone in this problem!! that is exactly what Rez does, sniffs, or runs past and ignores them and then sniffs :cry: So I will certainly try your suggestions, Lisa, I have noticed that if I hang back and don't crowd him he is a lot better, but my frustration levels rise. I really don't want a year of it, but it looks like I may be going to get that! What is so frustrating is that he can be brilliant, and yes, your comment re border collie weaving - his is a full blown adult weave when he sets his mind to it. People who see his behaviour in the ring cannot believe it when he finally gets going! Perhaps I should go back to doing fewer weaves, I started on the 2x2 weave method but we never really gelled with that one, he doesn't have a great retrieve so it was hard to do, he would prefer to "take away" rather than bring the toy back, just one of the issues we are having to work through. Having him from six months old has been another dimension we've had to sort through.
How have you/are you going to make the transition to competition with the food - I don't know about US but here we cannot take food into the ring, so I have to get him to love the weaves in competition as much as he (hopefully) will do in training. We weave night and morning for his meal, which gets him going but once again can't do that in the ring situation. Should I be removing him from competition do you think, and give him a break until he grows a brain?
Sue McKee
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby Lisa » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:00 pm

suemckee wrote: I started on the 2x2 weave method but we never really gelled with that one, he doesn't have a great retrieve so it was hard to do, he would prefer to "take away" rather than bring the toy back


Yeah, Buster didn't really get the 2x2's either. I started it with him and he just thought it was dumb. I ended up just shaping his weaves with a clicker and treats. I've shaped the entrance to the weaves from every angle imaginable! For a while, Buster was popping out consistantly at the 10th pole, and so I started back chaining and he's getting better about doing all 12 now.

suemckee wrote:Having him from six months old has been another dimension we've had to sort through.


If it makes ya feel any better, I got Buster at one year old, spent 6 months undoing his bad habits, another 6 month teaching him the "correct" behaviors and another year training him for agility! We started competing when he was 4 and a half...he'll be 6 in June.

suemckee wrote:How have you/are you going to make the transition to competition with the food - I don't know about US but here we cannot take food into the ring, so I have to get him to love the weaves in competition as much as he (hopefully) will do in training. We weave night and morning for his meal, which gets him going but once again can't do that in the ring situation. Should I be removing him from competition do you think, and give him a break until he grows a brain?


I do a lot of fun matches with Buster, where I CAN bring treats in to the ring in a competition evnironment. The shows in the US are the same as for you...no food in the ring. Now that he's finally getting weaves, I think I'm going to start givng up Q's to reward weaves for a while. We'll go in the ring, run our course, and if he gets his weaves, I end the run and we'll run out of the ring and get treats...he's more in to that than finishing the run. Gamblers is a great class to do that in. I haven't pulled Buster from competition, because that's where his issue is and we'll never get through it if we're not showing. He has fun in classes without weaves or where weaves are optional, and I use the classes with weaves for practice. Yeah, you end up eating some entries, but oh well.

Another thing I've learned with Buster is that I can't drill him endlessly on an obstacle. He gets bored too quickly and goes off to sniff. So, I never do weaves more than 3 times in an hour of training and I try to space it out. I also don't practice weaves every day. Two shows ago, in our standard run, Buster NAILED his weaves...got the entrance, all 12 poles, and at a decent speed...we hadn't worked weaves in over two weeks. Sometimes I think he stops doing an obstacle because he's just tired of it!
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby suemckee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:21 pm

Hi Lisa,
you can't begin to know how great it is to talk to someone doing agility with a Brittany. I am one of two in the whole country! Yes, I think age is going to be Rez's saving, he will mature and hopefully learn that it's more fun to do agility than sniff. Don't get me wrong, he loves agility - just likes sniffing as well :?
I've been blowing my runs with him by taking a toy in, but something invariably goes wrong, like the toy drops out of my pocket and he sees it and runs back for it - duh to me for letting that happen.
Funny you should mention that drilling them doesn't work - I've found that too, if I let it go for a day or two he does tend to have learnt it almost subliminally if that's the right word.
Yes, I thought too that pulling him out wouldn't help as that's where the behaviour is breaking down, so unless we trial he's not going to learn to do the weaves. Have been reading through old posts on this forum and it seems distractability is one of their drawbacks.
BTW, how do I put a picture in my signature?
Thanks again, so great to talk to people who have Britts!!! everyone virtually over here has herding dogs who mature quickly and are much more focused :cry:
Sue McKee
Rez (2 year old Brittany), Teezsa (10 year old Vizsla) & Switch (8 year old NZ Heading Dog)
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby rtropeano » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:13 pm

Interesting discussion on agility - I've just started with Daisy, she's a little over two. I have also noticed that I cannot drill an obstacle over and over otherwise she gets bored. She was the same way in CGC class. We'd do an exercise a couple times and that's it off to sniffing. I actually put "sniffing" on cue to get through class - it worked because she thought it was a great reward!

Another thing to look at - and this was mentioned to me during my agility training - is that maybe the dog is refusing an obstacle because it was somehow painful. When Daisy first started her agility at camp, she took to the A frame perfectly. Then all of a sudden, she kept refusing...come to find out that she strained herself because she was over worked....ooops!

Just something to keep in mind. I'll be going to camp in about a month, so I'll be watching this thread carefully.

Not to hijack the thread - but can someone explain the 2x2 method? I may try weaves this year, but not sure. We just did into to Agility last time so not sure if it is too much.

Thoughts?
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby Lisa » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:14 pm

suemckee wrote:BTW, how do I put a picture in my signature?


If you go to the Help Desk topic, there are a couple of posts there on how to post images. If you go to the User Control panel, there's a section for your signature.

rtropeano wrote:Not to hijack the thread - but can someone explain the 2x2 method?


It's basically a method of shaping the weaves using a toy as reward and basically shaping the behavior of going through 2 poles, then back chaining to 4 poles, 6 poles, 8 poles, etc. It's a great method if your dog understands shaping and if they consider a toy a reward.
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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby rtropeano » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:27 pm

Teehee, thanks for explaining Lisa, unfortunately, Daisy doesn't think of a toy as a reward.....she's food motivated. Understands shaping though....I'll have research it a little more.

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Re: Weave pole problems

Postby Alifaire » Fri May 07, 2010 7:13 pm

Hadn't seen this thread before, but I'm glad I found it! Victor sure fits the description of Brittanys in weaves - sniffs if it's boring, etc. He needs to get into the weaves first then I can catch up and stay 1 pole ahead. In training I can go quite a lateral or forward distance ahead without issue but most courses don't give that option. He prefers that I stay quiet and keep my hand pointed at the poles. It did take a while to get reliable weaves and it seemed to be most helpful if I didn't correct any missed weaves. If he missed it, we just kept running. I try to be as consistent as possible with the entry cues and position.

When we practiced at home, we did daily drills on 12 poles with plastic chicken wire 'guiding' him. I practice my moves to be consistent. It seemed to help.

Victor is not fast in the weaves and he has experienced some pain due to his pelvis being 'out'. But for the most part, he's pretty reliable.

Hope the weaves have improved for you.
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