Weave Poles

Topics: Contruction  |  Training  |  Trouble-Shooting


One of the simplest ways to set up a trainer is to stick poles directly into the ground. Use the normal PVC pole stuck in the ground using electric fence posts. Cut the PVC weave poles 40" long; then you can use them to measure the distance between poles on each side of the channel.

Then wire each side of the channel with vinyl covered clothes line wire.
(Kent Mahan)

Purchasing agility equipment can be expensive, but sometimes the trade-off between cost, quality, and the time between ordering the equipment and getting it is the deciding factor. Making the equipment used to be a way to get things in a relative hurry, but it isn't always cheaper than buying it. The cost of good quality wood - straight pieces with no knots or cracks - is getting outrageous.

Good PVC can be left out in the rain. Metal parts should be dried and oiled (WD40).

A good place to start when making equipment is to write and get the specifications for the equipment used by the agility organizations in which you are considering competing. This is useful even when ordering equipment. If, for the equipment you're building, the specifications are the same, you're home free. If not, are the specifications close enough so that it doesn't make a difference when training on equipment for one organization and competing on another? Here's an example: There is a metal table which many dogs tend to run under in trials, especially the dogs in the higher height divisions. In this case, you might want to buy this type of table since you can't easily duplicate a 1 inch deep table top without using metal. The USDAA has since changed their rules to require table tops with a 3 inch lip, but the AKC still hasn't specified a depth.

With weave poles, you need to see what the specifications are for distance between poles (20" seems to be a common distance). Other things to look for are limits on the height and width of the base, whether the poles can be rigid or must flex, is there a minimum height for the poles, etc...

If you use a wood base, it's good to have an anti-skid surface. Because a wood base is often wider than a medal base there is more surface for the dog to slip on when wet.

Be careful with the color of the base. If you use a bright color like white, you might find that your dogs will look for that white line on the ground to follow when weaving on other poles. So, use a dark color or a color that matches the ground surface - green for grass, brown for dirt. Note, that you don't want to do this for equipment that you WANT the dog to see, such as all contact obstacles - the color must contrast with the surface that you are using.

As for specifications, try measuring and sketching a piece of equipment and go from there. You can order a book of building plans for agility equipment from the USDAA. You can use this as a guide if you don't want to follow plans verbatim. You can often change the plans so that you use PVC instead of wood where practical. With the weave poles, you might not want to cap the tops so you can slide wires over them. Also, fill the top opening with foam in order to keep out spiders and rain. This is important for these plans since the poles are attached to the base in a way that will allow them to flex. You want to keep the moisture out to keep the metal bolts and nuts from corroding.

To make a chute, make another base, and instead of using plastic to hold the base upright, notch the bottoms so you can use a thin piece of wood for feet. One, for each end of the base assembly. This allows you to set the distance between the bases for the chute (and to hold the bases up). Use counter-sunk wood screws to attach the feet, and adjust the distances until the bases touch as training progresses. Make sure that the wood screws aren't too long - you don't want them to extend beyond the surface of the base so that they are a hazard to puppy feet.

For the bases, use wood that is about 3 1/2 inches wide, so with the bases fully closed, the distance for the chute is 3 1/2". To close the chute all of the way down to a straight line, just remove one of the bases and move all of the poles to the remaining base.
(Kenneth Boyd)

Some clubs have built flexible weave poles. They apparently take a long sturdy spring (like a garage door spring in miniature) and cut it in lengths of 5" or 6", secure each piece to a sturdy rail, and stick PVC in each, nice and snug. It's fantastic to watch a great weaving dog work these flexible poles.
(Bud Houston)

You can use springs to make flexible weave poles, but there is another option that is less expensive. Try using tubing, like they use in aquariums (only much bigger diameter) or ponds. They have it in the plumbing department in all different sizes. Cut a piece a couple of inches long. Then cut the pole in two pieces (one short piece, and one long piece). Put them together with the tubing! Flexible and cheap weave poles!
(Ann Bridges)

Sturdy black or white step in plastic posts work well for ring ropes and weave poles. The dogs don't seem to mind if you use black and they have notches on one side to which you can attach training wires. They are about 1" square and 48" tall including the 6" spike. Because of their shape, large binder clips (at any office supply store) can be securely clipped to each of 2 posts, and by laying a 3/4" pvc bar at the desired height across the little metal clip handles that project from the posts, you can make cheap, easy, lightweight jumps as well. With about 16 posts, a dozen large binder clips, 3 or 4 lengths of light pvc, and an expenditure of about $25, you can carry a complete training set of jumps and weaves wherever you go!

The source of these poles is Jeffers Livestock Catalog in MO, phone 1-800-533-3377. They are the DARE Step-in Posts (Poly Post 2400) and come in packages of 10, black (D4-S6-13) or white (D4-S7-13) for $12.95.

Another idea for lightweight, more realistic pvc weave poles that don't rattle: Using 3/4" pvc as the pole, make a plug out of wooden dowling slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the pvc and about 3/4" long. Push it up inside one end of the pvc, drill two holes in the side and screw it in. A hole is drilled in a pvc cap through which you poke a big, long nail (spike). Place the cap with the nail on the end and secure with pvc cement. The wood plug keeps the nail from sliding up inside the pole. A bit of work and nicer looking than the fence posts but not as versatile.
(Susan McClair)

For building a weavepole chute, you can use electrical wire. Look for the type with the trade name of ROMEX. This is the stuff that electricians use for wiring outlets and electrical fixtures in your home. This can be purchased at any construction, or "do-it- yourself" hardware store.

Cut it into 4' or less lengths. You need N-1 lengths, where N = {# of poles}. Then wrap black vinyl electrical tape over and around the ends to keep the copper wire from poking out after they are bent, and shape the wire into a arc with the radius you want. Just make sure that when you have your chute closed down all of the way that there is a comfortable amount of room for your dog to maneuver between the wire and the pole that's being weaved. Also, make sure that you leave an equal amount of wire on both ends to wrap around the poles. Then twisted these ends into a tight coil around the poles. 1 1/2 to 2 turns should be all you need to keep the wire in position on the weave pole. Usually they will stay up with just friction. You can also wrap a rubber band around the pole at the height you want to hold the wire up - but rubber bands don't hold up well when left to the elements. If you don't want your dog snarfing up pieces of broken rubber band, don't forget to take them off when not in use.

The advantage with ROMEX is that it is structurally strong enough, will withstand stress, impact and mechanical fatiguing and is safe - or can it be made safe - e.g. wrapping electrical around the ends to keep dogs from being poked. It's also rigid enough to hold a shape and can be bent back into shape when a dog snags it when bailing out over the wire. It also holds up very well in weather and since it is covered with PVC vinyl, it doesn't rust or corrode.

One disadvantage is that it's bulky and leaves a good size knot wrapped around a pole. I'm sure that a smaller diameter cable would work, but I would want to make sure that a dog would not injure himself if he ran into it.
(Ken Boyd)

Directions for Flexible Weave Poles

For each weave pole, you will need:

1 - threaded (metal) flange with an interior diameter of 1 1/4" (this looks like a flat doughnut)

1 - 1 1/4" NPT 3" nipple (this is a hollow pipe, 3" long, threaded on each end - it will screw into the flange)

1 - 5 1/2" long bolt - a heavy duty bolt that will fit inside of the nipple)

1 - nut to fit on the end of the bolt

1 - piece of plastic tubing to cover the bolt (both need to fit inside of the nipple)

1 - 6 3/4" long spring ordered from a company in CA*

1 - 36" long piece of 3/4" PVC (for flexible poles)


1 - 36" long piece of 1" PVC (for stiff poles)

Use a 1 x 4 board as a base. The base will need support. This is usually some sort of metal plate, attached at a right angle to the board, that can be anchored into the ground.

The flange is screwed onto the base, which is a 1 x 4. Screw the nipple (pipe) into the flange. If you want stiff weave poles, you are finished. Slip the 1" PVC over the nipple and instant poles.

If you want the flexible poles, attach each nut to each bolt, placing the nut at the end of the bolt, so that it looks like a two headed bolt. Fit each bolt into a piece of plastic tubing - a snug fit. The bolt with the tubing goes into the nipple. Slide the spring* over the nipple. The 3/4" PVC sits over the bolt, resting on top of the nipple, inside the spring. These are the flexible poles.

*VERY IMPORTANT - The spring needs to be an exact fit. Even 1/16" off will not work. They need to be ordered from the CA company.

The company to order springs from is:
Century Spring Corp.
222 East 16th Street
P.O. Box 15287
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1466 or 800-237-5225
Ask for part #3418. Each spring is $7.47

(Lynn Welles, with help from Maureen Robinson)

Here are directions for quickly made indoor and outdoor weave poles:

Indoor Weave Poles

  • 1" x 4" lumber 4 pcs. approx. 5-6' each (approx. $2.39 ea.)
  • 12 crutch tips (you know, the rubber thingies on the floor end of a crutch) (approx $2.95ea)
  • 12 1/4 x 20 bolts with nuts and washers ($0.15 ea)
  • 12 fender washers to fit inside the crutch tips ($0.15 ea)
  • 2 door hinges (ca:$1.99)
  • 4 lengths (10 ft.) of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe. ($1.19 ea.)


Drill 1/4" holes 20" apart starting 10" from one end of each 1x4 piece of lumber.

Assemble a crutch tip to each hole, bolt from the bottom, through the crutch tip with the fender washer inside the tip bolted to the lumber.

Attach two pieces of 1x4 to each other with a hinge at the 10" end.

Cut 36" lengths from the 3/4" PVC and insert in the crutch tips.

Outdoor Weave Poles

  • 12 fiberglass "electric fence posts" available at farm supply stores ($1.39 ea)
  • 4 lengths (10 ft.) of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe. ($1.19 ea.)

For outside use, push the fence posts into the ground at your choice of spacing and drop a 36" PVC pipe over each fence pole.
Be sure to wash them before bringing them inside after a summer of use outdoors. It's amazing how many spiders and other assorted creepy critters get inside the poles. Use a baby bottle brush attached to a string to clean the inside of the poles. Dish-washing soap in the bath tub works well.
(Carol and Ladd Mazur)


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