Dog agility competitions are one of the fastest growing sports in this country. These obstacle courses are designed to demonstrate a dog’s athletic ability, stamina and relationship with their handler or owner. But, it doesn’t all have to be about competition.
These courses are also a great way to keep your dog in shape, promote bonding between pet and owner, and work on obedience training. The best part – you can do it all right in your own backyard for a fraction of the price! Here’s how you do it:
Agility 101: Obstacles
Equipment used in agility courses will depend on your dog’s size and breed. If you are looking to build yours specifically to get your dog trained and ready for competition, refer to the AKC agility information for equipment size regulations and recommendations.
A basic agility course is made up of:
- Jumps (standard pole jumps and tire jumps)
- Weave poles
- Teeter board
- Pause table
Making Your Own Agility Course
The Standard Jump – Jumps make up the core of any obstacle course ranging in difficulty and configuration. They are constructed from PVC pipes witch are easy to get ahold of at your local home improvement store. A standard regulation jump when ordered will cost you around $150, but a DIY PVC jump will only cost you about $17.
- 4, 18 inch length PVC pipes
- 2, 2 3/4 inch length PVC pipes
- 3, 4 inch length PVC pipes
- 4 PVC T’s
- 4 PVC end caps
The Tire Jump – A regulation ordered tire jump will cost around $150, but there’s really no need to spend that much on an apparatus that is actually incredibly simple to make and will only cost you about $45.
- 4, 18 inch length of 1 inch PVC pipe
- 2, 36 inch length of 1 inch PVC pipe
- 4, 1 1/2 inch PVC elbows
- 2 PVC T’s
- 1 flex drain pipe (measured and cut to fit your dog’s girth), 8 feet length
- 1 drain coupler
- 1, 12 inch length link chain
- 3 rolls duct tape (1 roll red, 1 white, 1 blue)
Weave Poles – These are designed to test your dog’s agility and ability to navigate complex order. A standard run of poles can cost up to $200. The same PVC pipes, however, will only cost you around $65 for the whole run.
- 8, 36 inch length PVC pipes
- 4, 18 inch length PCV pipes
- 2, 1/4 inch PVC pipes
- 10 PVC T’s
The Tunnel – Building the tunnel can be a bit tricky. You can compromise by buying a children’s play tunnel for under $25, and all you have to do is anchor it to the ground with four small landscape, fabric pins. This same tunnel, when ordered according to regulation, would set you back around $200!
The Teeter Board – The teeter board is essentially a see saw. While you can easily build this yourself, you may actually be better off buying this one. It will cost around $60. If you choose to DIY this part of the course, you may be looking at spending closer to $85.
- 8, 1 inch 90-degree PVC elbows
- 6, PVC T’s
- 4, 2 1/4 inch PVC pipes
- 5, 5 1/2 inch PVC pipes
- 9, 12 inch PVC pipes
- 1, 10 inch PVC pipe
- 1, 2 inch x 10 inch board
- 2, 6 inch pipe straps
- Assorted screws (buy a screw kit)
- Astroturf or grass carpet for cover, 4 ft x 8 ft rug
The Pause Table – Pause tables are meant to provide a place for your dog to take a break and regroup during competitions, but they are scored on their ability to stay calmly on their table. Tables vary according to your dog’s size, so ordering one can set you back anywhere between $80 – $180. When building one yourself, it may be a good idea to visit your local utility provider or warehouse supply store. They may be able to proved the base of your pause table, cable spools. These are sturdy and won’t rip easily. With this recycled spool, your pause table should only cost about $25.
In addition to your cable spools, you’ll need:
- Particle board cut to cover the top of your spool at 24 inches x 48 inches
- Astroturf or grass carpet to cover the board at 4 ft x 8 ft
- Tacks or carpet glue to fasten the carpet
Instructions for Assembly and Course Regulations
Now that you have all of your DIY materials, simply go to the American Kennel Club website for all of the information you’ll need to plan and construct each course element according to your dog’s measurements. The website, caninecrib.com, is also a great source for easy DIY assembly instructions.
Remember to check with your veterinarian before you begin training on your agility course.
Featured photo credit: skeeze via Pixabay, cc