One of the best parts of teaching your dog tricks is showing them off to friends and family. And one of the more impressive tricks is the leg weave. This is when your dog weaves figure eights through your legs either while you’re walking or standing still. Although it takes coordination, this remarkable move is easier to train than you might think.
Why Teach the Leg Weave?
Trick training is beneficial to your dog. It provides necessary mental exercise and teaches them to think for themselves. Plus, it strengthens their bond with you. But trick training helps you too. You can polish your training technique without fear of failure. After all, you’re just playing with your dog. You can also build behaviors that will serve you and your dog in dog sports. For example, you can obtain a Trick Dog title for your pet or earn a ribbon in Freestyle, the sport of dancing with your dog.
Training the leg weave teaches your dog to focus on you and your body language. You must coordinate your movements and work as a team. And while challenging your dog’s mind, it also gets them moving and stretching their sides. That makes it a great warm up for other activities. Finally, when your dog has mastered the weave, you will have a great move to show off, either in a sport or just at home.
How to Teach a Stationary Weave
You can also teach your dog a stationary weave where they make figure eights around your legs while you stand still. Here are the steps:
- With your dog in front of you, stand with your legs open and your hands behind your back.
- With a treat in your right hand, bend your knees slightly or lunge to your right and drop your hand down to the space between your legs.
- Encourage your dog to pass through your legs to get the treat.
- When your dog has walked between your legs, click/mark/praise then allow them to nibble the treat from your hand. As they nibble, continue to move your hand around to the front of your body so your dog follows.
- Lure your dog further and further around your leg each time before you click/mark/praise and offer the treat. Continue to delay until you are clicking and rewarding the behavior only when your dog has walked all the way around your right leg and is back out in front of you again.
- Now repeat these steps on your left side.
- Once your dog will follow the treat on both sides, use an empty hand to lure your dog around either leg and offer the treat from your opposite hand.
- Now ask your dog to circle both legs, making a complete figure eight, before you click/mark/praise and reward. Use your right hand to lure the dog on the right side then switching to your left hand for your left side.
- When your dog will follow your empty hands around both legs, you’re ready to add a verbal cue. In time, your dog will understand the verbal cue and you can begin decreasing the amount you move your hands until your open legs become the only body language signal.
How to Teach a Moving Weave
Having your dog run figure eights around your legs while you’re moving is remarkable indeed. Although training requires a lot of coordination as both your arms and legs are involved, it’s actually relatively easy to teach from your dog’s perspective. To train walking figure eights, follow these steps:
- With your dog at your left side, take a big step forward with your right leg.
- With a treat in your right hand, lure your dog between your legs to your right side. When they’ve walked completely through, click your clicker, use a marker word like “Yes,” or praise your dog, then offer the treat.
- Next take a wide step forward with your left leg and repeat the process with a treat in your left hand.
- After several repetitions, it’s time to fade the lure. Now use an empty hand to move your dog between your legs before clicking and rewarding your dog.
- When your dog will follow your empty hand, ask them to make a complete figure eight before you click/mark/praise and treat. This will mean using your right hand to lure the dog on the right side then switching to your left hand for your left side.
- Build the number of steps you can take before you click/mark/praise and treat.
- Once your dog is weaving smoothly while you walk, you can add a verbal cue like “Weave” or “Eight.” Say the cue right before you begin moving your body.
- Now fade your hand movements until your step is the only body language signal.
Because your dog likely heels on your left side, stepping forward with your left is a cue to heel beside you. Therefore, always start your weave by stepping forward with your right foot. And if your dog knows how to nose target, you can use that to lure them between your legs from the beginning.
Again, if your dog knows how to nose target, you can use a nose touch to move them through the entire behavior. But if your dog is uncomfortable passing between your legs, start with asking them to simply go through and then slowly build the weaving movement.
You can teach the stationary weave from the moving weave and vice versa. Simply decrease the amount you step with the moving weave until you’re eventually standing still. Or add slow, short steps to the stationary weave, gradually building the speed and width of your pace until you’re walking. Whichever way you choose to train, you’ll have your dog weaving through your legs in several weeks. Then it’s time to show off your new moves!