DIY Obstacles for Dog Agility Training

DIY Obstacles

If you’re a handy kind of human, and you don’t want to spend a lot of cash on expensive agility obstacles, we have compiled some ideas on do-it-yourself obstacles. No point in spending money to just finding out if your dog even likes it! Even if you have no ambition of becoming a pro, this is a really great way to start getting your dog really into agility training.

Firstly, to find out whether your dog is even interested in dog agility competitions, I would test it out in a dog park with obstacles first. You’ll realise pretty quickly if your dog is interested or not. This site is a pretty good directory of dog parks ordered by state.

We reserve the right for these obstacles to be absolutely rubbish, and take zero responsibility if they last only 2 minutes. And let’s be honest, if they break, it’s probably because you’re like me and suck at manual arts!

DIY Weave Poles

DIY Weave Poles

Weave poles are probably the easiest thing to make yourself, therefore they are first on our list. In the very simplest version of these, all you need is PVC pipes. You can get more technical than that, but lets start there:

Tools Needed

Procedures

  1. Head over to your local hardware store and buy about 4 x 10ft sections of PVC pipe (or 2 x 20ft sections if your car can handle it). Unfortunately, most PVC pipes come in 2’, 5’ 10’ or 20’ section, so no matter what you do, you will have some left over.
  2. Each pole should be about 3’ each (unless your dog is exceptionally large or small), which means you will get 3 poles out of each 10ft piece.
  3. Cut one end of each pole diagonally, to make a sharp end to stick in the ground.
  4. OPTIONAL: You can always grab some colored tape as well while you’re at the hardware store for decoration.

Approximate Cost

Assuming you have a pipe cutter or saw at home, it will cost you less than $8 without the decoration tape, around $10 including the tape.

DIY Pause Table

Use What You’ Got

If you have an old coffee table that you’re not using, or thinking of throwing away, don’t – this can be used as a pause table (so long as it’s big and stable enough). You may want to get some of this stuff to tape over the top, to make the surface less slippery:

Anti Slip Tape

Or, although it’s more expensive, you can opt for these:

Stik N Step

Alternatively, you can use an anti stick paint, which is more expensive again:

Valspar Anti Skid Paint

Make a Pause Table Yourself

Agility by Carlson Pause Table

Tools Needed

If you want to be crafty and make one yourself, you will need:

Procedures

  1. Go buy the stuff you need. Buy 1 x 10ft length of PVC and 1 x 2ft length
  2. Cut the PVC into 4 x 2ft sections, and cut the rest into 4 x 1ft legs (all straight cuts). Assemble the 2ft sections into a square with the elbows as per the image below.
  3. Attach the legs to the elbows and super glue them to the plywood sheet. Wrap the top and sides of the plywood sheet in turf, or coat it with the non-stick paint.
  4. Voila – you’ve got your homemade pause table.

Approximate Cost

Once again, assuming you have a pipe cutter or a saw, the kit will cost you under $50.

Pause Square

If it all becomes too hard and you can’t be bothered with the table, just make a pause square. This could be anything from a cardboard cutout to an old shirt, a hoola hoop…use your imagination.

Bear in mind, though, that this IS different from a raised pause table, and your dog will likely not know what to do the first time they come across a raised table.

Tunnels

FurryFriends Pet Agility Tunnel

Procedures

Head on over to your local hardware store and buy a 24” diameter PVC pipe. 

Just kidding, might as well buy your local dog park.

Tunnels are a bit trickier though – you can’t exactly make them yourself easily (if you do know a way, please do tell), but in some cases you can get away with buying regular kids play tunnels.

You can pick one of these up at Lowes for a bit over $20, or at IKEA for $15. Be mindful thought, that these tunnels are only 20” and 18” opening respectively. This is not big enough for a large dog. Also, these tunnels are not made for sharp doggy claws, and so you might find they don’t last very long…

Jumps

Everything You Need to Know About Dog Agility Competitions

Tools Needed

Procedures

  1. Buy 3 x 10ft PVC sections and cut each into 3 even pieces. Similarly to the weave poles, some of the sections need a sharp end, but this time we only need 2 sharp ends. The sharp ends will make the “legs”, and the last section the “hurdle”.
  2. Shove both of the sharp ends in the ground with a distance of about 3ft apart. Attach the “hurdle” section with zip ties at the desired height.
  3. Make the zip ties tight enough for the bar not to slide when bumped, but loose enough to adjust the height when applying force.
  4. OPTIONAL: You can always grab some colored tape as well while you’re at the hardware store for decoration.

IMPORTANT: Make sure it is a height your dog is comfortable jumping over, don’t push them too high because they might hurt themselves trying to please you in all of the excitement!

Cost

This kit will come at a price of approximately $13. Add ~$2 for decoration tape.

Tyre Jump

Weave Poles Beginners Bundle/Package

There are options you can go with here – the basic option of sticking the legs directly in the ground, or the slightly more advanced option of building a base.

Well, the very simplest option would be to roll up a pool noodle and hang it up, but this requires a pretty well placed tree (or other horizontal object up high). You’d probably also better hold the ring – at least to start – while your dog jumps through it, to keep it from swinging or moving.

Basic Option

Tools Needed

Procedure

  1. You should be able to get all of the supplies from Lowes (or whatever other hardware store you usually go to). Get 1 x 10ft PVC sections.
  2. Cut one of the 10ft lengths into 2 5ft sections. These will act as your “legs”, so once again, cut these diagonally to make 1 sharp end.
  3. Fold the noodle up into a ring and use a wide and very sticky tape to hold it in place.
  4. You are probably better off taping the whole ring if you want it to last, and be protected from both weather and sharp claws.
  5. Lie the ring on the ground to judge the distance of the “legs”. The legs are supposed to be at a width of the centreline of the ring, so move the ring once you’ve got your checkpoints and stick the sharp ends into the ground.
  6. Zip tie the ring at the appropriate height for your dog. Remember the tip in section “Jumps – Step 2” – get the tightness of the zip ties right to be able to slide the ring up and down to alter height.

Advanced Option

Tools Needed

Procedure

  1. You should be able to get all of the supplies from Lowes (or whatever other hardware store you usually go to). Get 2 x 10ft PVC sections (or 1 x 20ft if you can transport it) and 2 x connections as per the picture below.
  2. Cut one of the 10ft lengths into 2 5ft sections and the other into 3 x 2ft lengths – all STRAIGHT CUTS.
  3. Fold the noodle up into a ring and use a wide and very sticky tape to hold it in place.
  4. You are probably better off taping the whole ring if you want it to last, and be protected from both weather and sharp claws.
  5. Assemble the base by fixing the 3 equally long pieces to the elbows, and stick the 5ft pieces on top (the “legs”).
  6. Zip tie the ring at the appropriate height for your dog. Remember the tip in section “Jumps – Step 2” – get the tightness of the zip ties right to be able to slide the ring up and down to alter height.

Cost

The basic option will cost you about $11, and the advanced option will make you about $18 poorer.

Dog Walk

Dog Sports Rubber Top Dog Walk

Tools Needed

Procedure

  1. Get the supplied from your hardware store. The plywood sheets usually come in 2ft widths, so you might either have to cut them to suit (which may require an electric saw), find the non-standard widths somewhere other than a commercial hardware store, or settle for a rather wide dog walk.
  2. Fix the steel angles to the plywood pieces at an angle that will suit the height of the cinder blocks. You can either use very short screws or super glue the angles. Tip: don’t use nails or long screws as these may poke through the top and hurt your dog.
  3. Place the cinder blocks at each corner as per the image above. If you are using plywood that is thin, or your dog is very heavy, might be best to put an additional couple of blocks in the middle. Tip: the dog walk needs to be supported on blocks, so make sure they are tall enough/the angle of the ramp is slight enough. If you want a taller structure, then we recommend finding a different supporting object – stacking one cinder block on another is not the most stable option, and not recommended.
  4. Wrap the top of both the walk and the ramps (and preferably sides) with fake turf (glued on) or paint it with a non-slip paint.

Cost

The plywood is the most expensive part, and if you want a sizeable dog walk (like the one suggested) expect it to cost you about $150. Quite expensive, but when compared to the $800+ it would cost to buy one, we feel it’s not too bad.

Teeter Board

Mini Travel Teeter

Tools Needed

Procedure

  1. Place the pipe directly in the center of the board and drill two holes in either side of the pipe. Place a carriage bolt through each of the holes and through the pipe to attach it to the board. Next, place the bolts on the inside of the holes in the pipe and tighten a nut on each bolt to hold them together.
  2. Wrap the top and sides of the teeter board with fake turf (glued on) or paint it with a non-slip paint.

Cost

Assuming you already have a drill at home, this DIY teeter-totter will set you back about $30.

Some Finals Words

Well, there you have it – a whole bunch of obstacles you can build yourself for minimal cost. But if you can’t be bothered, and it all becomes too hard, you can always buy them pre-made.

We have a full list of our recommended professional dog agility equipment here.

But if you do decide to give it a go, good luck!

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