Fun Agility Ideas
OUR WEBSITES ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS. PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR MORE IDEAS FOR TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT
We will be adding fun ideas and photos of agility ideas for you to enjoy with your dog. If you are looking for instructions on how to teach your dog to compete at Agility, this may not be the web page you are looking for. However, read it anyway as you might just get a few ideas here you won't find other places.
This page is for the person that wants their dog to learn a bit of how to manipulate the Agility Equipment and have fun with simple ideas, their dogs and perhaps other dogs and their owners to join them.
These are our English Shepherd puppies, Raya and Midas, playing in the half barrels we set up for them to learn the Tunnel in. They had a ball, and so did I.
Agility is great fun for all types of animals and it all stemmed from Horse Steeple Chase. Now you can see dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, ferrets, gerbils, mice and who knows what other animals participating....albeit with agility equipment the size needed for the types of animals using it.
You do not need to have the expensive "Competition Grade Equipment" to have a great time with your dog and you probably have many items you could use to train your dog and have a good time right out in your garage. Just make sure all equipment or anything you use for your animals are safe and most of all stable.
Make training fun for both you and your dog. I am betting if you mention that you are gathering items to train your dog to do agility to your friends at work and to other friends you know that own dogs, they may want to join you and come up with more equipment they can put together. If you meet on a regular weekly basis I am betting more and more equipment will be brought to this fun event and soon you will be seeing Competition Regulation Equipment to have a great time on with friends....add a cook out and have fun!!
That said, It is always a good idea for you to read a book or two on Agility before starting your dog. The books might give your ideas on how to train and explain details in how the dog might see the piece of equipment you are going to begin to train.
It is also important to use the correct size equipment for the dog you are training. Tiny dogs and Giant dogs can not use the same equipment, it is just not safe. Some of the Agility equipment is adjustable, some is not. Keep size and safety of equipment above all not only for your dogs welfare, but to make sure the dog is having fun as it runs/learns the course you have set up.
SOME FUN IDEAS FOR FREE OR INEXPENSIVE DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
I can not stress enough that the equipment needs to be safe, meaning not only stable, but also no shape edges, strong enough to hold double the dogs weight you will be using on it, made well, ext.
You might be surprised at what can become Dog Agility Equipment for the back yard.
This "Closed Tunnel" or "Chute" is made with an 18" diameter white plastic barrel I got free from a car wash. I used duct tape to add the inexpensive tarp that I used for the fabric end. When we took this photo I had had the Tunnel for at least 5 years and it was stored outdoors. 24" May not be large enough for some competition Closed Tunnel specifications, but it sure is for the Teacup Dogs Agility Association....perfect for my Cocker Spaniels.
I made this Blue Closed Tunnel or Chute the same way. This size is the size opening that is asked for as competition equipment piece by most Dog Agility Organizations. I have had this one for years, as you can see the sled dog decor on the sides. These Chutes were stored outdoors and you can see how well they have held up(I did cram the tarp chute up into the barrels and stored them standing upright).
The small tube in the background are my Rabbit Agility Tunnels, they were stored inside the larger tunnels.
These "Fence Jumps" I bought at the hardware store. They were less then $4.00 each. We <read my husband, Deron> took the stakes that were on the jump to stick in the ground and added a short 2" x 4" board on each side so that the jump will tumble gently if hit by the dog as it goes over the jump.
These jumps come in several colors (green, black, white, I think there may have been other colors too) and are just at 16" tall.
CHECK YOUR OWN GARAGE
You might find a tri-folding lawn chair that could become (while still folded) a Pause Table.
A couple of Cinder Blocks and an old broom might become a Jump.
That old left behind Hula Hoop or Bicycle Tire can make Hoop Jumps or call the tire your Tire Jump.
See that old plastic barrel? Can it be cleaned out? What was in it to begin with? If it was soap you can rinse it out and cut off both ends for a short Open Tunnel, or cut the barrel in half and add a matching tarp to the half barrel with duct tape for a Closed Tunnel.
VISIT GARAGE SALES, FLEA MARKETS AND THRIFT SHOPS
You might be pleasantly surprised at the items you might find at second hand shopping areas. Never over look the toys sections and be sure to go through those boxes, many, many many squeaky toys have been found there for a nickel or so.
Items you might find:
Child's Collapsible Open Tunnel
Human toddler's plastic slides
Plastic Club Houses (great to teach the dog to go in one way and out another)
Small Car Tires (usually free)
A Scooter (for cross training)
A child's wagon, they come in many sizes one for all dogs sizes <grin> (for cross training)
The photo is of my "Spool Jump". Notice that there are two animals in the photo "refusing" from each side. The Spools were free from a Farm and Auto store where they sell cord, rope and chain. When the rope, ect sold, they give away the spools. These matching spools already had holes in the uprights that I just stuck the pole right in.
OTHER PLACES YOU MIGHT GET FUN ITEMS TO USE FOR DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Stop in that local Car Wash and ask what they do with their plastic barrels when empty (most give them away so they do not have to pay to send them back or to the dump)
Hardware Store for 1" plastic conduit to be cut and used for Jumps or stuck in the ground for Weave Polls
Do you have any trees on your property or know someone that does? Or do you have a firewood pile? A log cut to approx 28" - 30" would make a pivot for a 2" x 10" x 8' board for a Teeter Totter. Just choose the size log you would like to have and screw the board to it.
Two logs approx the same size with another 2" x 10" x 8'board would make a great short Balance Beam.
BUILDING YOUR OWN DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Dog agility equipment is expensive and the shipping costs...my goodness!! But just about anyone can build at least a few pieces of equipment with PVC piping and a little time.
Check the Internet or Dog Agility books for instructions and ideas for building your own pieces. Don't try to build it all at once, you won't need it all at once anyway. Build a piece and go from there. Start with a very simple piece. Ask a friend or lover to help you with one piece and see how it goes, they might just have so much fun with it.....they build you a full set. <you can hope anyway>
In my opinion, if you are going to build dog agility equipment, build it right. It will not cost much more to build it to regulation then to just put something together. There are several different associations, so look around at their regulations before starting or buying your equipment.
Be creative, you might just come up with an idea that will catch on for regulation equipment.
Building equipment is fun. Deron and I have built and do build all sorts of agility equipment for animals. Plan it out and have fun building it.
JOIN A DOG AGILITY CLUB OR SIGN UP FOR A NOVICE CLASS
Here is a way to have a really good time with your dog and other dog lovers. Join a dog agility club in your area or take a novice dog agility class. The equipment will be provided and experts will be on hand to help you teach your dog.
This is a way too to find out if you and your dog are cut out for agility. You can try all the equipment and have a good time. But if you find you or your dog are not agility people you have little invested.
Best part about joining with others that enjoy the sport?!! You will meet people that have the same interests. You may meet a life long friend or even your future spouse.
The contents of this page for Fun Agility Ideas is still under construction. Our websites are a work in progress.
-- The DogStar Kennel Team
FUN WITH OUR DOGS IN THEIR NEW AGILITY TRAINING AREA
We are blessed to have an area where we can set up the Dog Agility Equipment and leave it up. It may not be as flat as we would like, or as grassy, but blessed all the same. Between the slight hill and the uneven horizon our MADE STRAIGHT Tire Jump looks, well, not made straight. Don't worry, it is not on such a hill that the dog is at risk when landing.
I am also blessed that my husband builds and helps me build and move items for the dogs and I to play on....once in a while he even joins us.
I have been working mostly with Frankie, who in these photos is 14 months old. He LOVES playing with me on the Agility Equipment. We will be adding photos as we train. The day of these photos we were expecting rain so I did not set up the Tunnels.
Oh, and the boots...this is rattlesnake country!! I have cleared and cleared and at this writing am still clearing all the cactus from the area...I have it all away from the equipment, now I am fanning out for the two acres that we are now calling our dog training area.
If you are setting up an area in your backyard be sure to walk it before adding equipment. Look for rocks, cactus, holes, or other hazards for humans and dogs. Set you equipment in as flat as an area as you can find. It is not a good idea to set up on concrete unless you are going to cover the entire area with thick mats.
Your dog needs to be in good physical condition to participate in Dog Agility. Dogs work hard, jumping and running and weaving and running.... You also need to be in good shape. It is a good idea for you and your dog to begin or continue and lenthen your walks together so that you can both be in shape for the running, turning and jumping you both will be doing....human's seem to jump up and down when their dogs do really well on a course.
The day that my husband put the new board on the Sea Saw it was again very windy, so again I did not set up the Tunnels. Frankie did really well learning to walk on the platform and the tilt did not seem to bother him...and he wanted the treats. He also worked on some Stays in his new Backpack....I of course think he is adorable!
We now also have a Pause Box and a Crawl Tunnel...we will have to get photos of the crawl tunnel. The fabric top (cover) is not quite finished yet.
Can you tell it was windy when we took Frankie's photo in his Sit Stay? LOL It is so windy here!
It is another windy day in SD, 8/31/08, so I did not finish and add the top or cover to the new Crawl Tunnel. I am really tickled with this!! It is an UKC piece and just looks like fun for dogs, owners, handlers and spectators!
Our Bar Jump is made to Teacup Dogs Agility Association regulations....cute, isn't it? LOL From the angle of the photo Frankie looks a bit big for it, but he's really not....but if he grows much more, he will be. I do say that Frankie is more of an Insulated Coffee Mug then a Teacup and Joy (our black Cocker) is more of a Teapot.
I am so blessed to have a husband that can put these pieces together for me in such a short time and so inexpensively!! I was quite surprised how fast the Crawl Tunnel went together. I thought it was going to be an all afternoon thing.
I took Deron about 45 minutes to make the Bar Jump and cost approx. $4.00 to build. Now if the wind will just slow down, this time of year however, it picks up. <sigh> It sure makes for cute Cocker Spaniel ear photos though.
When I first saw the PVC free standing "Tire Jump" I thought it looked like an Alien....I told Deron, my chief Agility Equipment Builder, (see? give them a title, makes them feel more important out there building the items you would like to have) anyway, I told him I thought it would be cute to add "arms" that it would look more like and "Alien Jump". The more I thought about it the more I thought it was a good idea. So Deron not only planned it and built it, he added the "antennas". I love this jump....it can adjust to different heights by moving the legs around.
AGILITY AREA MAINTENANCE
When you set up an area for Dog Agility, or any dog training, it needs to be as free of holes, cactus, burrs, rocks, snakes and any other hazards that may be in your area or yard and kept that way.
We have a 2 1/2 acre area we now call our Training Area. We are in NW SD so I have to watch for cactus, holes, and other hazards as well as keep it mowed. Many folks will have to move all of their equipment out of the area to mow...us? Well, here are some of our grounds keepers. We have five llamas, goats, horses....so it is kept mowed and fertilized in a way I do not have to worry about chemicals or parts falling off machines. <grin>
I learned many years ago that cross training IS important when competing.
When I was racing sled dogs and weight pulling I had dogs that were what "dog people" call "Nothing out of nobody" That means that my dogs were just dogs, they were not bred by folks that worked their dogs, they were not bred by big named breeders, just dogs. Guess what? I did well, really really well with my dogs. The reason? Serious training and cross training.
So if you want an advantage and a winning edge....cross train. Spend time with your dog doing all types of fun things.
Sled dog training and racing is not for only a few breeds, any breed can learn to pull and almost all dogs really enjoy it!
More ideas, yes even for the Agility Dog, are Backpacking. Backpacking can be an afternoon hike or a week end trip. Deron, my husband and I used to take a few of our sled dogs and take a 5 mile hike. Half way we would stop and cook a meal, maybe bacon and eggs and toast!! The dogs carried all the "fixins" and we shared the good stuff with them. Not only was it fun and kept us all in shape, it was time spent together on the trail learning commands and working together.
Agility dogs need to be limber and fast and think fast. Playing frisbie with an Agility Dog will keep them in shape without over doing the obstacle runs. The dog does not have to jump up and get the frisbie, but it is more fun for both the dog and person when they do. It is also great muscle building and tricks can be taught...back flips, no big deal for a frisbie dog.
A nice 2 - 5 mile hike in a hilly area is sooooo good for both handler and dogs. It is a lot of fun and if the dog finds a pond or a creek to swim in, all the better.
This is a photo of Frankie (8/19/08 ) out in a ravine on our property. At this time I did not have an A Frame, but as you can see, I do not think climbing one will be a problem. If you could see just a bit better, this "hill" is just about straight up and down. As we were repairing this fencing in the creek I can not tell you how many times Frankie, as well as our other four dogs that were with us, ran back and forth....but boy did they sleep when we got back. The Fence is about 1/2 mile from the house. Of course being dogs they did not just walk straight out and straight back....look over here, sniff there, swim here, swim there, run, jump and have a great time.
Playing fetch on a regular basis on land or in water or both will build the bond and the bodies of human and dogs!!
Throw a toy or if your dog is really good at fetching, teach it a few tricks. Dogs like to please you. Teach your dog to fetch the newspaper, to find your keys, or to pick up toys, each of these are just fetching games. I have some ideas on our Dog Trick page you will find in our menu.
Pulling a cart, wagon, someone on skis, skates, a sled, travios, or the like will surely be a great time for both dogs and humans and will get them both off the couch on the cold days, keeping you in shape for those upcoming warm days of Agility Competition. The idea is to be active all year, not just when your sport is active.
There is much you can do to stay in shape and work those muscles and build that bond that will give you a winners edge when competition comes around....and will be a great time for both humans and their dogs!!
Be sure to get your dog out around other dogs, not just the other dogs in your own home, and train it to not only get along with the other dogs but also to mind you as you walk or run among them.
It is a great idea to get out with friends with dogs and hike, play fetch, have a picnic or a meal on the trail so that your dog is not distracted when it gets to the competition/class place. It is also a must to teach the Agility Dog to Honor other dogs. Honoring is waiting their turn, behaving while the other dogs are on the equipment and they are waiting their turn. I have some ideas on how to train many of these ideas I have given here elsewhere on this site. Honoring is on the Dog Tricks page along with many other things to do with your dog that will build a deeper bond between the two of you.
I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.