Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dog Agility: Homemade and Fun!

A few weeks ago, a friend and I started a dog agility club in our home town of Colima, Mexico. With no expertise, no equipment, and no money, we've still attracted a good crowd of enthusiastic club participants, human and canine.

If you've ever thought about trying agility with your dog, but thought it would involve a big investment of time and money, here's how we did it almost for free, and in an hour a week. As you'll see in the photos, the dogs learn really fast!


The first thing we did was to watch a bunch of Youtube videos. The selection is wide, and they range from professional guidance to finding do-it-yourself props. The link above is to a fairly random page of agility training videos. You can take it from there.


The next thing we did was brainstorm some props. Here's our first.

Buy a plank and put it on some bricks. That's it! The trick is to make sure it doesn't wobble or make noise. Most dogs take a few tries with treats to get the hang of it. Then there's no stopping them! This cutie Schnauzer is Popis.

If you take the plank, turn it on its side, and prop it up with the same bricks, you have a jump. Voila! Popis was a little reluctant at first, but she followed Susie the cocker spaniel right over.

By week three we had two planks at different heights. One a little shorter, lower, and wider for beginners. The other a little longer, higher, and narrower for the pups who wanted more of a challenge. You can see that we hold the club in the side yard of a residential house. Not a lot of space, and we have to use leashes all the time because of the street, but we appreciate having a free, clean space we can use.

We started with holding a hula hoop for a jump. Since we have one person per dog, it was a little awkward keeping the non-jumping dogs out of the way. Prada, a Siberian husky, didn't mind. She loves to jump!

One of our participants had an old bed frame to donate. We cut off the legs, pointed the ends, and made a jump out of the headboard. Sparta, a pit bull, loves it!

We decided to duct tape the hula hoop and some sections of garden hose to stakes, so they would stand up by themselves... sort of... The hula hoop is more rigid and turns out to work better than the cut up hose. We've since graduated to using plastic cable ties, neater and quicker than duct tape. You can see that sometimes the owner needs to go through first, to get the idea across. Cosmo, a Schnauzer, is a champ who runs the whole course with great joy! 

We found that by keeping the stakes longer, we could put them either side up, creating tunnels as well as jumps. We make the tunnels by stretching a black garbage bag across two hoops. I don't have a tunnel picture yet, but will post one this Saturday.

Of course, the most important part of any club is having fun!

Do you have an idea for easy, inexpensive equipment for dog agility? Please share! Next week one of our members is bringing an old tire. I wonder what else we can come up with?!

As always, I look forward to reading and responding to your comments. Thanks for dropping by!



  1. Do dog every get injuries doing these kids of things? I would think like humans they could get overuse injuries.

    1. Hi English,

      At the level we're doing it, nobody gets injured, that's for sure! There are all kinds of safety measures for the dogs. The broad colored strip is to ensure that the dog touches all four paws on landing, for example. All the activities are things the dogs do naturally.

      I've been amazed by how quickly the dogs learn, and how much they enjoy the activities. One little chihuahua practically drags her owner back to the start as soon as she finishes.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting,