Adapted in part from a wikihow article*.
With the summer games in Rio right around the corner, you may be wondering how you and your best friend can enjoy them. Short of hopping a plane to South America, you might consider attending the Dog Olympics at North Carolina State University on September 19. Your pooch doesn’t have to be agility trained to take part in this contest that includes limbo, a howling contest and a Frisbee toss.
If that’s not in the cards, you can still have fun by setting up your own dog agility course! All you need are a few supplies and a good DIY attitude to get it done. A dog agility course can provide great exercise and mental stimulation for your four-legged friend.
Whether you want to actually train your dog to compete, or just have a good time in the backyard, here are a few tips to help you get started.
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 to weave through them. You can also pound bamboo poles into the ground.
3. Build a simple jump.
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.
All you need to do to create this one is tie a tire or hula-hoop sideways between two chairs or posts.
5. Make a tunnel.
The easiest way to do this is to repurpose or buy a child’s play tunnel. Use tent pins or another method to anchor the tunnel in place.
6. Build a teeter board.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can build your own dog teeter board. Picture a child’s see-saw—that’s what you’re aiming for. For a smaller dog, you can use a boogie board as the top. Take a pool noodle and cut it in half to make two pieces with a flat side and rounded side. Tape the flat side of one piece to the bottom of the boogie board. Now you have a teeter.
Safety comes first.
- Check with your veterinarian before beginning agility exercises to make sure your dog is physically able to participate.
- Make sure your pooch drinks enough water during agility course play.
- Don’t push him beyond his limits. If he shows signs of tiring, call it a day! There’s always tomorrow to have fun.
- Focus on one apparatus at a time. It may take a little while for your dog to master a particular activity, such as weaving or the tunnel. Once they have each skill down, you can move to another apparatus. Once your dog has mastered several, you can start to put them together to make a course.
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.
Instructions for building all of these obstacles and more can be found online with a search for “building a dog agility course.” Check more than one web site, as instructions vary in approach and level of simplicity.
Have you tried dog agility with your pup? What is your dog’s favorite agility activity? Have you ever competed in an agility trial? Please share your experiences with us!