A dog agility set is the basic starting point for agility training but purchasing the various obstacles can quickly add up to quite a bit of money. Fortunately, if you are just picking up agility training as a fun hobby or even if you are intent on entering your dog in competitions, you can put together your own agility set without spending a great deal.
Most courses consist of a basic collection of obstacles: jumps, tire jumps, weave poles, tunnels, and a pause table. For extra difficulty you could also add in a teeter or seesaw 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 your homemade dog agility set with the 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 the standard jump, you would make two standing pieces and stretch a bar between them, and adding jump cups so that the height of the bar can be adjusted.
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An inexpensive dog agility set made of items you already have around the house can get you started with dog agility training.
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.
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 one of the most enjoyable parts of any dog agility set 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 should be forgiving so that your dog doesn't get hurt as he learns to weave in and out of the poles.
Tunnels 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 and want to add even more to your homemade dog agility set, 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.
Of course, if the DIY approach is not your thing, it is possible to purchase relatively inexpensive dog agility starter 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!
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