Backyard Fun: How to Create Your Own Dog Agility Course
Dog agility is a popular sport that involves jumping, weaving, sprinting, and navigating. While some dogs compete in competitions across the globe, the everyday pet parent can still build an agility course right in the backyard for very little cost, and plenty of outdoor fun!
Building an agility course will give you and your dog some quality bonding time. You’ll be there to help guide your dog through the poles or over a teeter-totter and cheer every time he lands a jump. In addition, an agility course will also provide your furry pal with a good workout that will promote his physical and mental health, as well as behavior.
Whether you want to actually train your dog to compete, or just have a good time in the backyard, here are a few steps to help you build a DIY agility course.
1. Find a large, open space where you can set up your course.
Your fenced backyard, or another enclosed area, is a great place to start.
2. Start by creating some weave poles.
The easiest way to do this is to purchase some tall orange cones, then line them up and teach your dog how to weave through them. You can also pound bamboo poles into the ground. Try using three poles to start, and then add more as your pooch progresses.
3. Build a simple jump.
A simple jump bar helps your dog build up his hindquarters and develop a better sense of boundaries. It can especially help breeds, such as Labradors and German Shepherds, that may be more susceptible to hip and joint concerns improve strength and agility.
There are a number of fairly simple ways to build a dog jump. One idea is to place two flowerpots on the ground. Then, put a PVC pipe across the top of the flowerpots. No need to secure the pipe—you will want the pole to be able to easily roll off if your dog misses the jump.
4. Build a tire jump.
Ready to build another jump? For this one, all you need to do is tie a tire or a hula-hoop sideways between two chairs or posts.
5. Make a tunnel.
The easiest way to do this is to buy or repurpose a child’s play tunnel. Use tent pins or another method to anchor the tunnel in place.
6. Build a teeter-totter.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can build your own dog teeter-totter, which is basically a version of a child’s see-saw. This will help build trust with your best friend as you help him over it using basic commands like “come,” “stop,” and “stay.”
To build your teeter-totter, you can use a wooden plank as the board for larger breeds. For a smaller dog, you can use a boogie board instead. For the balancing point, take a pool noodle and cut it in half to make two pieces with a flat side and a rounded side. Tape the flat side of one piece to the bottom of the board. Now, you have a teeter-totter!
Safety Comes First
As with any sport, safety comes first. Before you begin assembling your PVC pipe and wooden plank, be sure to first check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is physically able to participate in an agility course.
While running through the course with your best friend, try to focus on one obstacle at a time. It may take a little while for your dog to master a particular activity, like jumping or weaving. Once he has the skill down, you can move on to the next obstacle. Be sure to have Bil-Jac Treats on hand and have your pooch drink plenty of water in between each round.
Finally, be careful not to push your dog beyond his limits. If he shows signs of tiring, call it a day! There’s always tomorrow to have fun.
Does your dog have great natural ability? Why not look into a local agility club in your area? It’s a great way to meet others, train and learn from the experts. Find out more about canine agility from the American Kennel Club.
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