Have you been looking for a way to train your Pet and keep them healthy and happy? Consider setting up an obstacle course like the ones you might have seen on competitive dog shows! Getting the official set-up might be costly and impossible, but here’s our “course” full of simple, easy ways to build your own agility course at home. You can try one idea, or try them all depending on the amount of time and space you have available.
Give Them Something To Jump Through
Agility course jumping has a ton of great developmental benefits for your dog, including body conditioning, speed enhancement, and maneuverability and discrimination between heights and distances.
Creating a jumping obstacle can be as easy as turning over two laundry baskets and lying a curtain rod on top. It’s a short jump for most dogs, even the smaller ones! If you happen to have any PVC pipe on hand from other home do-it-yourself projects, they can also make for a great bar to hurdle. If that’s still too much, you can try using pool noodles or the old stand-by, the hula hoop. Want to go all-in? Here’s a breakdown of a DIY agility jump set-up for more industrious Pet Parents.
Tip: Whatever you use, make sure it’s collapsable to avoid injuries. Knocking over your jump set-up is better than your Pet getting hung up!
Give Them Something To Weave Through
Teaching your dog an agility weave can improve cardiovascular health, help channel their “zoomies,” and engage their brains.
The same pipes you use for a jump can be repurposed for a weave. Simple orange cones are great for this, as are any small posts — even some holiday decorations like the candy canes you see in peoples’ front yards can work! Be creative! But, just like the jump set-up, make sure your “poles” are safe and collapsable so they don’t cause discomfort when your Pet bumps into them.
They will bump into them, by the way. Learning to do this well can take most pups between 2-3 months of daily training. Your Pet doesn’t have to be great at the agility course … they just have to stay engaged, and have fun!
Give Them A Tunnel To Run Through
We’re sure you’ve seen play tunnels for children. They’re also an easy way to mentally and physically challenge your Pet!
Those kids’ play tunnels can be easily repurposed for Pet training if you have any lying around (or live in proximity to a Goodwill), but you can even remove the bottom of a cardboard box and turn it on its side for a quick and easy “tunnel.” Don’t be afraid to start small! Your little friend might be afraid to go through a tunnel at first, so stay under four or five feet in length at first. Bonus points if you’re able to crawl through it yourself, to show them that it’s safe!
If your pup is having trouble getting started, treats can be a real “light at the end of the tunnel” for them. The trick to all of these suggestions is to have fun. They’re not being graded, and neither are you. Just play together, and do your best to show them how much fun running through tunnels, jumping over high-bars, or dashing through cones can be!
Give Them A Ramp To Run Up (And Down)
Pets don’t have a Stairmaster, but they do have ramps! Ramps and stairs are great for mitigating the impact and stress exercise can have on their joints, and building a ramp can be as simple as angling two planks of wood over a cinderblock. Make sure the planks are secure and wide enough, so nobody slips on the way up or down!
Tip: If you aren’t especially handy, or don’t have construction materials on-hand for whatever reason, many Pet and department stores sell ramps and small sets of stairs for helping Pets more easily climb onto couches and beds. A pair of small stairs back to back are an instant pyramid for ramp-running fun!
Give Them Variety!
If these set-ups work for you and your Pet starts to really enjoy the agility course and get good, switch it up! Run the obstacles in a different order, or rearrange them in your space. You want them to know that each obstacle has its own goals and commands. You can also switch things up by adding in fun activities such as fetching a tennis ball between obstacles. The goal is to keep both their bodies and their minds engaged. Mental agility is just as important as physical agility!
Remember: Not All Pets Are Made The Same
Some Pets might master the agility course on day one. Others may never master it. Both of those things are okay! Helping your Pet stay mentally and physically healthy isn’t a chore, it’s an opportunity to improve your bond and make sure it lasts for as long as possible. If the course ends up being a complete failure, what’s the worst that’s happened? You’ve spent more time playing with your dog? It’s a win no matter what the outcome.
Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. The Hannah team is always here for you, in the sun as often as the rain.
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