A safety-first culture is a goal that all levels of an organization must adopt. It can help to reduce near misses and accidents on the business premises.
Creating agility obstacles can be costly, especially if you want to upgrade to professional-grade equipment later. But you can start with basic DIY dog agility hacks using items most pet owners have in their homes.
1. The Tunnel
When learning agility, you’ll need a tunnel and probably want to add more equipment as your dog progresses. But, ensuring your dog can safely go through each obstacle is important. Before training, check the entire area for any rough or sharp edges that could scrape your dog’s skin. Also, look for any divots or rocks that might hinder your dog’s running and jumping.
Some dogs find the tunnel to be a very challenging obstacle to master. They may struggle to see their handlers from inside the tunnel and even turn back when exiting it. Expert handlers have learned how to teach their dogs to run through the tunnel with no problem.
If your dog is having trouble with the tunnel, try to use it more as a reward for doing other obstacles like staying on the pause table. Using the tunnel as a reward will give your dog something fun and exciting to do that will encourage him to take on harder challenges.
You’ll find lots of dog agility equipment on the market, but it’s best to stick with sandbagged-down items with heavy bases.
2. The Jumps
Many different types of jumps are used in agility, but the single pole (also known as a bar) is the most common. These are typically made with either stanchions or wings. Wings are typically used in competitions as they restrict the dog’s peripheral vision and make the obstacle more challenging. Another popular type of jump is the fence wing jump, which looks like little fences with wings on each end.
Regardless of the type of jump, it is important to ensure that your dog always jumps on a safe surface, such as grass or dirt. Dogs are not recommended to jump over concrete, tile floors or linoleum as this can seriously injure the dog. Jumps should also be kept low to encourage the dog to take them and slowly raise them as they progress.
A tire jump is a fun and challenging obstacle requiring the dog to time their jump through a narrow rubber or PVC pipe tire opening. This can be difficult for some dogs, especially if they try to jump around the tire rather than through it. To prevent this, it is a good idea to place cones or jump wings next to the tire to block off the wrong entry options and allow the dog to choose the correct path.
3. The Weave Poles
If you’re just getting started with agility, it’s wise to stick with easy DIY equipment such as a square tunnel that won’t roll and a set of weave poles. You’ll want to ensure your equipment is safe, sturdy, and appropriately sized. If any of the equipment isn’t up to specs or moves unpredictably, your dog may be put off agility and hurt by sudden movements.
The weave poles are the most difficult equipment to teach your dog because they are between 18 and 24 inches apart (depending on the governing agility organization). Training your dog to enter them in a zig-zag pattern and move through them at lightning speeds takes a lot of patience. And because the weave poles are one of the most common obstacles to getting faulted on in competitions, you’ll want to make sure that your dog knows how to navigate them properly.
You can help your dog get familiar with the weave poles and work on entering them correctly by using the channel method described above. You can also start with just a single set of two weave poles, then increase the number of poles and gradually close the gap between them as your dog hones his weaving skills. You can also vary the height and striping of your weave poles to keep your dog on their toes.
4. The Table
Whether or not pet parents opt to compete in agility, these obstacles provide an excellent outlet for exercise, training, and bonding time. But before beginning to train with agility equipment, a little preparation is required. Taking your dog through the course at least once or twice is recommended to familiarize them with the different obstacles. It is also important to ensure they have a comfortable and safe space to complete the course.
A good way to do this is by lining dining room chairs back to back to create a tunnel. However, it’s essential to ensure that the chairs are wide enough to navigate through safely. Another great obstacle is the pause table, typically made of a raised platform with a flat top surface. This obstacle helps improve focus and impulse control in dogs by requiring them to remain stationary for a short duration.
To avoid spraining or overstretching your dog, consider using a flexible pause table with adjustable height. Unlike rigid pieces, flexible ones allow for easy adjustment without compromising safety. Portability and durability are other factors to consider when selecting agility equipment for your pup. Most equipment comes in a carrying bag that makes it easy to transport from one location to the next. Choosing durable, sturdy materials that can withstand vigorous movements and frequent adjustments is also important.