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Training Exercises: Weaves and Serpentines

Work weave entries and exits along with serpentines in this exercise. By Elizabeth Dott. 

This is a fun exercise to work on weave pole entrances and exits as well as serpentines. The serpentine line can be straightened to make the exercise even harder as you progress. How many different ways can you run this course?

From #1 to #2, I set my dog on a slice so I could easily turn him to the left. This is important since the weave entry is blind from the first jump. Another way to show the entrance into the weave poles effectively is to start with your dog on your right side at an angle (half circle) so they are naturally turning left.

There are a few ways to work the end of the weave poles to show the second line from #2 to #3. You can drive ahead up the line of weaves in front of your dog and do a blind cross, picking him up on your left side or you can front cross the end of the poles on the takeoff side of #3. Want even more of a challenge? Use lateral motion to carry you ahead on the right side of the jump for a landing front cross between #3 and #4. If you want to try your rear cross, you can pull to #3 out of the weave poles and rear cross #4.

This is a nice line but be sure to use your shoulders to turn your dog right into the tunnel.

This is a great place to work on entries. The dogs are coming out of the tunnel with lots of speed and will need to collect to get this entry. What worked well for me was to be sure to hang back a bit and also to be sure my left foot was pointing at the correct entry pole.

This is another tough weave exit. You can play with this exit two ways. You can work on rotating your body to pull your dog out of the weaves and straight down the line back into the tunnel from #7 to #9. Start by waiting until the dog exits and then gradually work on turning sooner and sooner as long as your dog continues to drive through all the poles. This is a great proofing exercise. The second way to do this exit is by adding lateral motion and front crossing at the right side of the stanchion of # 7. This will allow you to keep moving forward to support your dog's forward motion through the poles, while still moving laterally away so you are in the correct place for your cross and not stuck behind the jump. If you want to add even more challenge, try moving lateral and layering #7. Now you are on the left side of jumps #7-#9 which puts you in a better place for the upcoming serpentine.

Be sure to use your shoulders to show the entry into the serpentine from the tunnel and be sure to drop your right arm to invite your dog over #11 followed by another shoulder push to #12.  My preferred way to show this serp is with my right hand all the way through and let my shoulders do the talking. If your dog is not quite ready to do the full serp you can turn  jumps 10, 11 and 12 slightly to make it easier for your dog to see and then eventually turn them back to a full serp.

Because #13 is not straight on to #14 this is a great way to practice ugly entries. Use your body to push your dog out a bit so he sees the entry. Want more of a challenge? Let your dog find the entry without shaping it for him.

Here's another great way to work a challenging exit. You can use a pull or a push here. See 6-7 above.

My challenge to you is to now see how many variations you can build off of this one course. Have fun with it! 

Elizabeth Dott owns and operates Legendary Agility Training in Altamonte Springs, Florida. She has been participating and competing in agility since 1993. She can be reached for class info or clinics at


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