Teaching Weaves--the Channel Method

Discussion in 'Dog Sports' started by tx_cowgirl, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Okay, so there's a chance Z and I will be starting agility within the next month or two. I think I want to use the Channel Method when teaching the weave poles. Honestly I know very, very little about agility. So I was just wondering, does anyone recommend any literature or videos on agility, and more speficially, the channel method?
    I have been watching Emily Snider's YouTube vids of two different dogs learning the channel method from beginning to end. Seems as simple as gradually narrowing the gap.

    The trainer we will be going through uses the 2x2 method I think, which I also don't completely understand, but the channel method seems to make more sense to me. Zekers does have an issue with small spaces, so regardless weave poles might be tough for him. We'll see I guess.
    I'm not entirely sure what to expect, as the club she trains for is big on prong collars and a combination of corrective and positive methods, while I use no corrective methods at all. But I'm not sure if that's part of her personal training philosophy or not. Regardless, if she does use corrective methods, I will not hesitate to tell her off if she tries to correct my shy Zekers. He'll have a hard enough time just approaching her for the first several days. I will of course talk to her long before any training begins and figure out exactly how she trains(in terms of corrective/positive).

    So one last question....should I go with whatever method the trainer uses since she's trained it thousands of times, or insult her and tell her I want to train it a different way? Or ask her for help training it a different way? Or, is she going to want to bash my head in regardless? Lol.

    Thanks in advance! :dogtongue2:

  2. cali Well-Known Member

    Corrections have no place in agility- hopefully she knows that and won't use them with your Zeke. (If she does, don't be shy about asking for your money back and going to find a different trainer.)
    Is this an agility class, and she's starting with weaves? Or are you just wanting to learn that specifically? Weaves are one of the hardest obstacles usually. Normally you start with simpler stuff.

    As far as channel vs. 2x2, I'd give her method a try. Tell her you're interested in the channel method, find out if there's a reason she teaches 2x2. Show her you're openminded about it but you've also done your research. =]

    Can't wait to hear how you two do! I will be starting agility classes with my new pup in a few months.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Oh no, haven't even started. I've talked to her numerous times, and have been wanting to do agility for a loooooooong time. She and the club she works for are the only two places to take agility classes in my area. She trains both for the club(volunteer) as well as privately--right now, I'll be going through her privately. Z and I both need some private help as well someone who can work with my schedule, not a whole bunch of peoples' schedules.
    Weaves are just one thing that seem to have numerous methods, with the most common being 2x2 and channel. I will let her know I am definitely interested in trying the channel method, but I'm certainly no agility expert and am not going to tell her how to teach me to work with my dog. She knows far more about the sport than I do! ^^ Not going to challenge the expert.

    I know the woman personally, but do not know very much of her training philosophies. In fact, I didn't even know she had anything to do with dog training until fairly recently. I've already explained to her what Zeke is like(extremely shy, timid, but has come a long way...but nonetheless will need some special help), so she kind of has an idea of what kind of dog we'll be working with. The first day I imagine we will mostly just be tossing a tennis ball to get him to warm up to her and be comfortable with the scary stranger. (And possibly the second and third days...until she becomes the "fun agility lady with the tennis ball!")

    I feel sooo comfortable with tricks, obedience, and behavior issues, but when it comes to agility I'm just flat uneducated. :dogblink: But hopefully soon that will change! :D
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    i see it's been awhile since this qustion, have you started the class yet?

    Generally weave pole training is something that you have to do at home. It is very unlikely that a dog can learn to weave just by going to class once a week. Therefore in a beginning agility class they usually have the method that is easiest for all the dogs to practice on at once, regardless of what stage of training. Channels and guide wires are very common to have in a class setting as it accomodates the largest number of dogs. But I have seen 2x2s in a group setting as well.

    As for what method you use at home, talk to the instructor about the pros and cons of each and see why she reccommends 2x2s. I have personally done both and LOVED 2x2's as while ti seems complicated, it really produces thinking dogs. I like channel for working on speed, but it can be difficult to go from a 1/4in spacing to completely closed for a lot of dogs. To me, 2x2 actually teaches the behavior better then channel which more so teaches around the behavior. That being said, I still like both! Other people like WAMs for teaching dogs footwork and some completely free shape the poles.

    In the end, it really doesn't matter at all as long as you work independence and entries from the get go. I doubt your instructor would care what method you choose to do at home in the same way that she won't care what contact criteria you decide as long as you're consistent!
  5. snowblind New Member

    I think there should be no shame or fear of being disrespectful when telling a trainer you aren´t comfortable wth using corrections. Especially with a dog that isn´t all that confident and hard. Corrections shouldn´t really be a subject at all before the dog has learned alot more about agility. If ever. If the trainer insists, I would probably leave. But anyway the one correcting the dog should always be the owner so it really is up to you.

    Ask about different methods. Your trainer is exactly the person to do that with. I think I might have put a few gray hair into my trainers with all the question on different methods and ways of teaching and doing agility. She had never taught a running contact until I came, determined to teach that to my dachshund. With only a few months into agility, I think my girl has one of (if not THE) the most reliable contacts in the bunch. And I saw my trainer trying the besics of it with her own dog before our class ;)

    So do your research and ask away. Why does she use the method she does? Has she ever used other methods? To me personally 2x2 method makes alot of sense and to me it seems it creates very reliable weave entry and weave in general. Unfortunately my trainer isn´t very familiar with the method and I don´t have enpough money to get the DVDs to do it myself. Some people that have represented our country in the world championships have told good words about the channel method- it creates a really fast weave vs. the stoneage method (luring dogs beck and forth between poles) that leaves some dogs doing it slowly forever. But I don´t know how it compares to 2x2.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Would it be confusing to teach both the 2x2 and the channel?

    And no I haven't started class yet. This semester's courses just started and I'm trying to decide when is going to be the best time for me.

    IF she uses corrections, I will certainly not hesitate to stick up for my shy boy. I would never let someone do anything negative to him. Only once have I allowed him to get in a bad situation(complete accident), but that was a coworker deciding to hug Zeke when I had my back turned. Needless to say, Z freaked and took a while to trust that coworker again. Aside from that I've always been very careful to keep Zekers safe. ("Safe" meaning not crowded by strangers, not having to get too close to someone/something he isn't comfortable with, etc...)

    Thanks everyone for all the info!! I really appreciate it.
  7. snowblind New Member

    I asked advice from an agility trainer that trained her bc 2x2 and she told me that if my dog had reliable weaving then I can just teach the correct entry with 2x2 and use this knowledge in with the complete weave. Once the dog is confidently entering and doing the 4 poles straight and knows that thy must complete the whole set of poles I can´t see how it could be confusing.

    HERE is an article from Chris Parker about how he teaches weaving that is basically throwing 2x2, channel and weave-o-matic in a pot and giving it a good stir. And this guy should know, training the standing Guinness record owning weaving dog (as far as I know). I won´t be doing it this way but I take this as a reassurance that using different methods will not confuse a dog.
  8. fickla Experienced Member

    I don't think it would be too terribly confusing. I started channel with Lance, then switched to 2x2s pretty late in the process. With Vito I did both kind've at the same time in the early stages and then only did 2x2s.

    And honestly the methods do look VERY similar at a certain point in the training. The difference is how the dog views what he's doing (pushing through to find the "hole" vs finding the gate entry). If you're doing one method at home and the other in class the dog might not even notice the difference, especially if you're at the same angle with your channels as the 2x2s. The problem would come in during later stages. usually 2x2 progresses faster then channel and there are stages where the first and last set are at an angle but the middle ones are "closed." With a channel dog still learning he won't be able to handle that yet. But overall you shouldn't have a problem working one method at home and another in class.

    edit: I just wanted to add that once the dog is fully trained and can weave a straight set of poles, it wouldn't be confusing for him to work with angled 2x2's. And if you get to that point where you are way ahead of the class, then you can use that opportunity to test things like your position, movement, crosses, distance, etc. on the easier poles.
  9. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks to both of you! That clears up a lot of confusion I had. Seems to me, from my uneducated view, that the two methods together would produce fast and accurate weavers...?
    WOW that's some quick dogs(Chris Parker)!
  10. storm22 Experienced Member

    ive trained storm on the channel method and then koda in the 2x2 method, i found storm had a fast hard drive through it and is able to run at them by himself (but he makes more mistakes, koda likes me by her side and shes slow at it (but also ive only really started training her it in the last month) one thing i will say is when you start training weaves try if you can to practice everyday if not twice (thats why its taking me soo long with koda havent got the time really) but she goes right to the end of the weaves,
    but also i started luring koda through the set up weaves as we had a break in the middle on her weave training and she picked up alot more speed following food through it, if zeke is really ball crazy or toy driven he actually might do better with channel weaving, my friend has a red border collie who will do anything for his ball and he had no problem with the poles aslong as his ball was at the end
    good luck
  11. Foolishness&Fluff New Member

    I would not do the 2x2 method and the channel method at the same time. Switching to one after a while is different. When you teach the 2x2, you are teaching the dog and individual behavior that is chained together. With the channel is one long behavior. Lola was taught with the channel method and Ice is being taught 2x2. So far, the 2x2 seems to be going faster, but I am a lot more dedicated now than when I first started with Lola so... I also expect Ice to be a faster dog.
    As for corrections, I agree they have no place in agility, and I would tell my trainer that going in to it.
  12. JRT-Smurf Member

    I wouldn't consider training with someone who used punishment. I have used channel weaves and 'V' weaves to teach two different dogs. I have not used 2 x 2 weaves, however I have researched and know friends who have trained this way and I think that using 2 x 2 the dog can learn independent weave entries from anywhere much more consistently. I think it depends on your long term goal. If you are happy to enjoy agility training and do simple weave entries then channels and V's are fine. If however you want to train to develop weave entries from any possible angle then the 2 x 2 method is really worth researching into... try googling on you tube susan garrett's 2 x 2 weave pole training....
  13. Anneke Honored Member

    I've kind of made up my own version of the 2x2 methode. I have tried 2x2 with cooper, but found that I couldn't handle it:D I wasn't patient enough to start with 2 and then build on that. So I spend ages luring him through 8 poles... He does a pretty good weave now, but it is deffinately NOT his favorite thing to do.
    When I started agility with Jinx this year, I knew I had to do it differently. Make it more fun. I did start with 2 poles and throwing a ball, but quickly progressed to 4. Using my hand as a target and throwing a ball at the end. It works really well for us. I don't have to use my hand anymore and she is starting to get the hang of the rythme of weaving. I am now adding a jump before or after the weave and changing the angle and the side of where I am.
    And I am up to 6-8 poles.
    Where I train agility they start out with 8 poles. I refused to do this, because I feel it is too hard for the dogs and too boring. At least, that is what I see in the other dogs training with us. I have talked my trainer into starting out with just 4 poles and then adding 2 as the training progresses.
    I find training the poles is the hardest thing in an agility course, but that they(the trainers in my dogschool) don't let us practise it often. They just throw it in a course and we have to do it.
    Since I don't want to train it like that I train poles at home and have turned it into a game, Jinx absolutely loves! And although she doesn't have a perfect entry yet, we are getting there.
    I just googles the channel methode and it was something else, than what I thought it was:D I thought it was when u use these wire things that click on the poles so you create a channel for the dog to follow, while the poles are in a straight line.:oops: Channel-wires I think they are called.
    We have tried this methode, but it didn't work for Cooper and Jinx... Both of them thought they were supposed to jump the wires:D
  14. JRT-Smurf Member

    sounds to me like you have added the perfect ingredient - FUN - and the method you are using makes sense to me and it seems to your dogs - so stick with what you are doing at home - it is easy to teach a dog to weave, although it can take a very long time - but it is not easy to teach the dog to weave with enthusiasm - you have it cracked - just stick with it!!
  15. agilelab123 New Member

    I've trained 2x2 just for entries then once my dog understood the good entries on just 2 poles i switched to channel and his weaves are amazing!!! And you should definitely check out Susan Garrett's videos and buy some instructional dvd's, they are well worth the price!!! As well as Susan Salo for learning good jumping methods. Agility is a fun sport to do! Good luck!
  16. xena98 Experienced Member

    Hi Guys
    Might be a bit late on this but how are you getting on with the weavers
    Personally I wont use the channel method as it did stuff up my border collie and I had to retrain her again. I have basically trained it differently with every dog and they all had awesome weavers. Gabby I had done basically my version of 2x2 I had 2 poles and lured and clicked and did both sides in the training. I than had a touch stick that I glued a ball and a clicker taped to it and had her following around 4 poles and click and continued on like that. I was basically clicking to say yes you are correct but you get the food at the end which when you start on 3 and than 4 it wasnt far. She started understanding after no 6. I than faded out the stick. I also played around with the no of poles that I was using but I always had even no out so that the dog understands where the finish is. Gabby has awesome entries and people are very jealous with what she can do . I can also be at no 12 and send her to the first one and she will find the entry. I can layer and send her I can trust her that whenever I say Go Weave she will look for an entry and do it. I can also send her into the weaves and run in another direction.
    Hope that helps
    Danni and the girls
  17. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks Danni.
    For the last several years, every time I *almost* get into agility, something comes up that kills it. So we didn't get to take the course. I don't want to train weaves on my own; I just don't feel comfortable with it. Right now I'm focused on training one of my dogs for shed hunting and blood trailing, as I do know a little more about that. The shed hunting seems like it is going to be easy. We'll find out when I get started, which should hopefully be in a week or two! :)

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions and information! :)
  18. xena98 Experienced Member

    Hi there
    Was wondering what blood trailing and shed hunting what is it and what do you do. I have never heard of it
    Danni and the girls
  19. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Blood trailing is the tracking of a wounded animal--following a trail of blood. Whether hunting with guns or with bows, the animal you shoot doesn't always just drop right where you shoot it. Their adrenaline starts pumping and sometimes they can travel a pretty good distance before dropping. You can track them just by looking for tracks and drops of blood, but depending on the terrain, it can be a real challenge. A dog can smell the tiniest droplet of blood, even if it has aged. Blood trailing dogs assist the hunter in finding the animal they have shot. There are even people who have several blood trailing dogs and travel all around the world and get paid looots of money to help people find whatever they've shot. I once read a magazine article about a guy who had shot an elk and both he and the guide had been going over and over the blood trail, but then they'd lose it. The shot placement was good, but the blood trail was hard to follow and seemed to drop off at one point. They hired a man with a couple of very well-known Bloodhounds to travel out to help them find the elk. By the time he got there, the trail was three or four days old, but his blood trailing dogs found the elk in less than an hour. :)

    I'm a bowhunter, and I just think that blood trailing is a really neat thing to teach your dog.
    Shed hunting dogs are slowly becoming pretty popular. Shed hunting dogs are used to find antlers that have been shed by deer, moose, elk, etc. Shed antlers will tell you about the size and health of the wildlife on your land, and sheds can sell for quite a bit of money to people wanting them for crafts. For me, I mostly just want them to know about the size and health of the deer on our land.

    It's just a fun way to incorporate two things that I love(hunting and dog training), and it gives my dogs a great, useful task that I think they are going to enjoy. :)
  20. xena98 Experienced Member

    That is interesting We dont have anything like this in australia We only have the tracking and search and rescue and that has only just started. Use to do tracking but havent done it for ages. It's too hard looking for ground to train on and also too busy with obedience and agility as well. Only so many weekends in a year to do things

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