Archive for the 'Dog Activities' Category

19 OctNovice Course Walkthrough

I created a 6-minute video showing one way to run a novice level course:

Dog Agility Novice Course Walkthrough #1

If you’re new to agility or just want to see alternate ways of looking at a course,
check it out!



PS – Yes, I do have other video walkthroughs in the bag — I hope to get them
out sooner rather than later!

05 MarBuying Or Building Dog Agility Equipment, Which Is Right?

The sport of dog agility has so much going for it that it’s a shame our equipment needs aren’t as simple as those who crochet or collect stamps. Instead, we need jumps, teeters, tunnels, more jumps, weave poles, etc. And a storage area for all those pieces.

Oh, and a big yard where we can set it all up. Well, even a small yard can work in a pinch, but we have to have some space.

We can’t get around the need for equipment, but there are some options we can look at to make dog agility less costly — one of those options is to build at least some of the equipment ourselves.

Sidebar: If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford all the dog agility equipment you need, go for it. While there are some advantages to building your own, such as decorating it the way you like, that doesn’t really make it worth building the equipment if you don’t have to.

Some dog agility equipment is easy to make, some isn’t. Let’s take a look at the most common pieces and I’ll give you my opinion on whether building or buying is the best option.

Jumps: These are so easy to make you can knock out several in a morning — and that includes the trip to the hardware store to get the supplies. Simple PVC pipe jumps are all you really need to get started — and you can easily add wings to the side if you need to.

Even though these are simple to make, they’re also pretty cheap if you do want to buy a few. And most come “bare” so you can decorate them the way you want with colored plastic tape or paint.

Weave Poles: Another piece of equipment that’s easy to make — depending on what style you want. You can create a complete set of weaves from PVC pipe or you can use a metal base and PVC pipes for the poles. There are some “special” sets of weaves available that are supposed to make your dog learn faster — if you want something like that you may have to buy them.

Long Tunnel: Here’s something that’s almost impossible to make, so just close your eyes and write the check. While there are some “kiddie play tunnels” that owners of small dogs can use, they’re not as sturdy as a real tunnel and just won’t work for medium to large dogs.

Chute Tunnel: This can be made fairly easily — as long as you can sew a long tube of cloth (or know someone who can do it for you). That and an empty plastic barrel with the ends cut off will get you where you need to go.

Contact Equipment – Teeter, A-Frame, Dog-Walk, etc.: Here’s where it gets tricky… these aren’t very easy to make, but if you buy them you’ll spend a fortune in shipping costs. A good compromise is to buy the hardware (or even the base, in the case of the teeter) and then head for the lumberyard for the wood needed to finish the equipment.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to have every piece of equipment all at once. Get started with a jump or two and some weave poles and add the rest of the equipment as you can.

25 FebRunning A Dog Agility Course Without Passing Out

You envision the upcoming dog agility run in your mind — leading out while your dog waits at the line and then you start! Running from one obstacle to the next, back-crosses, front-crosses, going from one piece of agility equipment to the next until you and your dog leap across the finish line together!

Then you open your eyes and real life comes back — you remind yourself you just want to have fun, that’s the most important thing. And if you can keep from collapsing in a gasping heap in the middle of the course, that’s just icing on the cake.

Okay, not everybody is out of shape — but the “fattening of America” didn’t skip over people who love dog agility (that would have been nice, wouldn’t it?). If you want to run agility without fear of passing out, the obvious answer is to lose weight.

Simple to say, but anyone who’s tried it (over and over and over again) knows it’s not a piece of cake (pun intended).

If you’re just too overweight to keep up with your dog you have a couple options (other than the lose weight one):

1. Train your dog to stay with you on the course. If you can slow down your dog then you can walk, saunter, do a little jog, etc., and get through the course that way.

Two big problems with that is first, it’s not really fair to the dog (they want to FLY and have fun) and second, you’ll have a hard time getting a qualified run if you don’t get a move on.

2. Train your dog to work away from you. With this option your dog can go ahead of you on the course and do the obstacles as you direct them from behind. Of course, for this to work you’re going to need your dog SOLID on going away from you, turning left, and turning right. If you have a “velcro dog” this might not be an option, but a lot of dogs can learn to work away from their handler.

While option 2 is something that will help whether you’re overweight or not, there’s also something else you can do, and that’s to get in “better” shape without actually worrying about losing weight.

Note! As always, check with your doctor before doing any kind of new physical activity.

By better shape, I mean to start working on being able to jog short distances, just 20 feet or so. Even someone who’s very overweight can build up their stamina to handle short bursts. You may not win any world records in speed, but being able to run 20 feet, slowing down for a couple seconds while your dog handles an obstacle, then going another short burst, etc., can give you a much better chance at having fun and finishing the course without passing out.