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How to get started with dog agility training
By Nicole Pajer
Many of the materials needed to craft a backyard agility course can be purchased at local hardware stores, yard sales, flea markets, or even found lying around your home.
A basic agility course has the following types of obstacles:
Here’s how to create each type of obstacle:
1. Weave poles
Weave poles can be created by sticking 10 to 15 ski poles or PVC pipe into the ground. Allow enough space in between each pole so that your dog can safely navigate around each pole.
Use a picnic bench as a dogwalk or construct one by placing a 12-foot piece of plywood across 2 cinderblocks.
3. Standard jumps
Standard jumps can be created by stacking cinderblocks on top of one another and placing strips of plywood on top. Depending on the height of your dog, adjust the height of the jumps appropriately.
4. Pause table
An old coffee table can be used as an agility course pause table. Look for one that sits low to the ground and make sure that it is stable.
A plastic collapsible children’s tunnel can be purchased from a department store and will make a perfect obstacle for your dog to crawl through. These can typically be found for less than $20.
6. Tire jump
An old bike or car tire can be strung from a sturdy tree branch to create a tire jump for your course. Make sure that the opening is large enough for your dog to safely jump through. Hold onto the tire while initially training your dog to jump through it.
7. Teeter boards
Teeter boards can be built with a long piece of wood and some PVC pipe. Mix an antiskid additive with paint and cover the entire board. This will provide your dog with more traction as he walks across the board. Purchase a large plumbing pipe from a local hardware store. Place the pipe directly in the center of the board and drill two holes in either side of the pipe. Place a carriage bolt through each of the holes and through the pipe to attach it to the board. Next, place the bolts on the inside of the holes in the pipe and tighten a nut on each bolt to hold them together.
Once you have the above obstacles created, you are ready to work on training your dog on the agility course. Before you get started, make sure your dog is able to follow basic commands such as sit, lie down, come, and stay. Next, begin to help your dog through the course. Teach him to crawl through tunnels, jump over hurdles and through tires. Help him weave through poles. Walk your dog over the teeter board and dogwalk and have him pause for a predetermined amount of time on the pause box. Take your time and start off slow. Once your dog has mastered the commands necessary to finish the course, you can start picking up the pace and working on his speed and accuracy.