How to DIY Dog Agility Equipment
It’s super simple to create your own dog agility equipment for your home. All you’ll need is your imagination, a few PVC pipes, broom sticks, laundry baskets, lots of super yummy treats and your dog. If you’re not the handy type, you can certainly purchase dog agility equipment. However, DIYing your own agility equipment for dogs is super fun. 🙂
Dog Agility Training
Dog agility has been around for years, and it’s a blast! Both handler and dog must complete a dog agility course in the shortest amount of time without knocking over any equipment. The handler points her dog in the right direction, and the dog soars over, under and through agility obstacles in seconds. It’s amazing to watch, participate and teach. I look forward to teaching dog agility classes every week!
Great for Shy Dogs
While agility is a super fun and active sport, it’s also great for timid or shy dogs that need to build confidence. When a timid dog is able to have fun crawling through an enclosed dog tunnel, his life changes for the better! He learns that things really aren’t as scary as they seem. The timid ones eventually soar through the agility course alongside the gregarious dogs!
Popular Dog Agility Equipment
For the most part, dog agility requires a few standard obstacles, depending on a dog’s skill level. It’s important to keep things super simple in the beginning until your dog builds confidence and is comfortable enough to walk on obstacles off the ground. I recommend the following dog agility equipment.
Just as a reminder, make sure all dog obstacles are on a non-skid and soft surface, such as grass. For indoor versions, you should add soft rubber non-skid rugs on both sides of or under an obstacle.
Easily the funniest part of dog agility training and one of the most popular parts of dog agility equipment are jumps. Everyone enjoys watching her dog fly over jumps. There are so many different types of jumps, and most can be made with everyday household items.
How to Create Jumps
If you’re on a budget, you can purchase two plastic laundry baskets with multiple holes on all sides and a broom. Push the broom through both laundry baskets, and move both baskets toward the end of the broom. Voila, you have a jump! Always start on the lowest level (i.e. broom stick on the ground). Once your dog aces jumping over a low broom handle, you can move the broom up gradually.
Never force a dog over a jump. It’s important your dog learns how to jump over an agility jump on his own. Try tossing a treat over the jump, so your dog is forced to walk over the broom to get the treat. If your dog goes around the jump (smart dog!), try luring him over the jump with a treat. Additionally, while we want to challenge our dogs, always keep safety and your dog’s abilities in mind.
An agility ladder is a bit different than a regular ladder in that it’s placed flat on the ground instead of against a wall. By placing a ladder on the ground, your dog learns to pick up his feet as he walks over each rung. For this dog obstacle, you can use a regular ladder placed on a soft non-skid area.
Cavalletti refers to single pole jumps that are slightly off the ground. It’s a common term in the horse world.
How to Create a Ladder
If you want to get super fancy and raise the height of a ladder rung for cavalletti, create an agility ladder with PVC piping. You can also use the above jump idea as inspiration by purchasing 10 laundry baskets and 5 wooden poles (or brooms), and set them up as a jump.
Move the jumps close together with a six-inch or one-foot gap between each jump (larger gap for bigger dogs). Always start with the poles on the ground. Once your dog progresses, move the poles up the laundry baskets in small increments. Don’t forget to lure your dog over each rung. Better yet, place one treat between each rung. This will slow your dog down, so he doesn’t walk on the rungs instead. 🙂
I’ve never figured out how to make a DIY dog agility tunnel that lasts more than a few sessions, so I recommend purchasing an agility tunnel. Once your dog becomes addicted to running full blast through a tunnel, a DIY or cheap option will shred in minutes.
High-quality dog tunnels usually cost more than $100. These are made of super durable material, can expand from short to long and can take a beating. If cost is an issue, the HDP 18-Ft Dog Agility Training Open Tunnel is a great buy for under $40. It can be purchased on Amazon. Just make sure to shorten the tunnel when teaching your dog to go through it.
Dog Tunnel Training Tips
Teaching your dog to walk through a tunnel can be tricky. When dogs balk at agility equipment during class, it’s usually the tunnel. Please, never force your dog through a tunnel. Shorten the tunnel and grab lots of yummy treats. Toss treats through the tunnel, so that your dog must step through it to eat the treats.
You can also ask a friend to stand on the other side of the tunnel opening and call your dog through it. Expand the tunnel in small increments once your dog willingly and happily walks through the tunnel.
Where to Store
A dog agility tunnel is super addicting! When not in use, fold the tunnel up and store in an area where your dog is unable to reach. Trust me, if you keep a dog tunnel available in your backyard at all times, your dog will likely be running through the tunnel instead of pottying. As for indoor tunnels, I leave ours out in the formal dining room (that’s what formal dining rooms are for, right?). We were woken up by the sound of our dog gleefully running in and out of the tunnel at midnight. 🙂
Dog agility is fun and very addicting—I’m just warning you!