Building dog agility equipment may be the perfect solution if you're interested in agility training, as purchasing the various obstacles can quickly add up to quite a bit of money. Fortunately, if you are just picking it up as a fun hobby or even if you are intent on entering your dog in agility competitions, you can put together your own agility set without spending a great deal.
Most courses consist of a basic collection of obstacles: jumps, weave poles, tunnels and a pause table. For extra difficulty you could also add in a teeter board and an A-frame. All of these obstacles can be made inexpensively or fashioned from less expensive alternatives than the pricey manufactured pieces. It's a matter of knowing what to look for and how to put the various parts together to build what you need.
You'll want to start building dog agility equipment by making two kinds of jumps: standard and tire. Both of these can easily be fashioned using PVC pipe, which you would simply cut and attach in a frame.
For standard dog agility jumps, you would make two standing pieces and stretch a bar between them, and adding jump cups to the stands so that the height of the bar can be adjusted. An even more inexpensive alternative is using either two flower pots or two chairs with a broomstick balanced across them. You can vary the height by switching out the pots or chair for ones of different heights.
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Thinking of making dog agility equipment yourself? If you have the DIY skills it can be a great cost saving option.
Similarly, a tire jump can be made by building a PVC pipe frame and then tying a tire or a hula hoop inside it, suspended from the four corners. Again, for an even cheaper alternative, you can simply tie your hoop between two chairs or posts. The important point with any kind of jump is to ensure that it won't fall down when your dog jumps over it and, for bar jumps, that the bar will fall easily if your dog hits it in order to prevent injury.
Weave poles are some of the most enjoyable parts of any dog agility course and as with the jumps, PVC pipes can be used. Another inexpensive alternative is a series of tall, orange traffic cones. These will not be the same size as the regulation weave poles used in competition, but they may actually make it easier to train your dog. As with the jumps, whatever material you use when building dog agility equipment should be forgiving so that your dog doesn't get hurt as he learns to weave in and out around the poles.
An agility tunnel can be constructed using a series of chairs with blankets draped over them, but this may not work for larger dogs. The key to a tunnel is to make sure that your dog can run through it easily without getting scared. Many people choose to simply repurpose children's play tunnels, which can be purchased at toy stores for as little as $20 or $30. Pause tables or boxes are even easier…all you need is a simple rectangle made of PVC pipe that you can lay on the ground.
If you're feeling adventurous when building dog agility equipment, you can use PVC pipes and boards to construct a simple teeter board or A-frame. You can make these obstacles safer and more comfortable for your dog by covering them with Astroturf or Pampered-Paws rubber coating which is made especially for this purpose. Of course, if the DIY approach is not your thing, it is possible to purchase relatively inexpensive starter agility kits that contain everything you need for a basic course.
Cost is one thing that should not be an obstacle when it comes to agility training, so why not consider the possibility of constructing your own course. That way both you and your dog will have a real sense of accomplishment!