Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weave Pole Challenge

SUMMARY: A fun knock-out challenge sending to weaves.

Last night in class Jim gave us a weave-pole knock-out drill (you get a chance at each level, and if you can't do it, you're knocked out of the drill). In this case, we each got 3 chances at each level.

The drill looked like this:


Start with one jump next to the weaves, 3 or 4 feet out, perpendicular to the weaves (so that the dog's path to the weave entry is a U-turn), and one pole away from the end of the weaves. That's the black jump in the diagram. Then, staying behind the jump, send the dog over the jump to the correct weave entry.

For the next level, move the jump one pole further along the weaves (as shown in red). Then move it two more poles back. Then two more. Then two or three more, until finally you're at the far end of the weaves, sending your dog ahead of you all the way to the original end of the weaves. (Of course you can modify how far back to move the jump each time, but that's roughly what we did.)

We found that standing still and sending the dog from beside you didn't work well; none of them wanted to carry out the full distance. All the dogs did much better if we revved them up about 20 feet back and ran them at the jump to build momentum. After that, if the dogs knew their weave-entry-finding job, they'd work themselves at getting out far enough to make the wrap.

Tika did fine in the early stages. At the third to the last position, though, it took us all 3 tries; the first two tries, she entered with the first pole to her right instead of to her left. At the next to the last position, it took her two tries, and then on the final position, she apparently finally realized what the game was, and did it perfectly on the first attempt. Four of our dogs made it to the final level, although the 12" sheltie didn't successfully complete the last level. The others were Kye (the other long-legged 26" aussie) and Jim Basic's Spy, although we all had points during the drill where we had to try it more than once. Apache the Terv made it to maybe the next-to-last level before dropping out. The other two dogs who were there that night were 16" dogs but they both have trouble with weaves just in regular flow if they're not helped a bit. And Ash and Luka weren't there.

Now--that's the easier weave entry for dogs, because they simply have to find the last pole and wrap around it. If you were going in the opposite direction, that's a harder entry because the dog has to enter between two poles, which is a more challenging distinction to make. So--go ahead, try it, tell me how it works. ;-)

I'm almost certain that Boost can't do this drill at all. She's getting better and better at entrances all the time, but we've done nothing like a U-turn, I don't think.

And I also discovered, when testing Tika in the yard this week on some of Boost's weave drills, that if she's entering at an angle from the right side of the poles and I'm already past the plane of the entry, she misses it. (That was one of our mess-ups in the last Steeplechase.) So there's something for me to go back to with her.

It never ends!

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