Dog Agility Equipment List
Dogs can practice agility with their owners by utilizing the practice of obstacle courses. These courses can be used for training purposes or practicing for competitive events. A successful dog agility team will have a well-prepared dog; the competitions and obstacles can vary depending on the dog’s size and experience level. The trainer helps guide the dog to the appropriate obstacle at the correct time.
In the competitive circuit, dogs may need to complete nine different obstacles, so a trainer should have their dog ready for each of them. Which obstacles a dog may see depends on the competition; some competitions will use all obstacles while others will use a select few. To get their dogs ready a trainer should practice the following obstacles: A-Frame, Chute, Dog Walk, Pause Table, Tunnel, See-Saw, Standard Jumps, Tire Jump, and Weave Poles.
Dog Agility Equipment
It is good to practice with all the obstacles and have the dog prepared, but some obstacles are too expensive to buy, or too large to fit in a backyard for many people. Some of the basic equipment that is great to practice with include: the tunnel, the jumps, and the weave poles. They are a great base to start with and will help the dog practice the more common obstacles for competition.
The A-Frame is an “obstacle that is made from two large aluminum or wooden planks that are [three feet] and [nine feet] long”. This obstacle is meant to challenge the dog to ascend and descend quickly. To successfully clear this obstacle the dog’s paws must come in contact with the yellow zone; there is a yellow zone on both sides of the obstacle. This prevents the dog from jumping from the top once they’ve cleared the first side. By requiring the dog to come in contact with the yellow zone you are making sure they have both ascended and descended the obstacle.
The Chute is similar to the Tunnel obstacle, but the difference is there is only one side open for the dog to run through. The opening is a barrel with a twenty-two inch diameter and has ten to twelve inches of fabric covering it. The backside of the obstacle is fabric that has no wire frame; instead, the dog will run through the fabric on the backside and “shoot” out the other end. This obstacle can be tougher for dogs to train for because there is no apparent opening on the other side, but when they learn to run through “chute” at full speed it becomes one of the most exciting obstacles on the course.
The Dog Walk is an “obstacle constructed of three [eight foot] - [twelve foot] planks”. While not as steep as the A-Frame obstacle, the Dog Walk does test similar skills. The dog will ascend one side of the ramp (making sure their paws come in contact with the yellow zone), they will run across the “balance beam” (center plank), and then descend at the other side (again, making sure their paws come in contact with the yellow zone). This obstacle tests the dog’s ability to ascend and descend (like the A-Frame) but also challenges the dog to balance and quickly clear the center plank.
The Pause Table is an obstacle that is essentially a short table made of plastic or wood. To clear this obstacle the dog must stop on the table for five seconds in standing or sitting position (depending on the competition). This obstacle may seem simple, but tests the dog’s ability to control itself in the middle of a speed competition. Think about running full speed, then coming to a complete stop and patiently waiting for the “all clear” to take off again!
See Saw (or Teeter)
The See Saw (or Teeter) obstacle is one plank made out of wood or vinyl that is balanced on a metal or plastic frame (this allows the plank to teeter). To complete this obstacle the dog must run up the plank and stop at the other end (in the yellow zone). The dog must wait for the other end of the plank to touch the ground before proceeding. This obstacle tests the dog’s ability to balance and a little bit of patience (since the dog will need to wait for the plank to touch the ground before proceeding).
The Standard Jumps can be set up a few ways, but the obstacle is made of PVC pipe and encourages the dog to clear its height and width. The kind of jump a dog may encounter depends on the dog’s competition and size, but the obstacle can be set up with a bar that the dog must clear vertically (this can be between four to twenty six inches) or horizontally. Some competitions use Spread Jumps which looks similar to the “regular” bar jump, but in addition to the vertical clearance the dog must also clear a set horizontal distance. There are also other versions of the obstacle such as the Panel Jump (which has a solid board instead of the PVC pipe, and makes the obstacle appear solid) and the Broad Jump (which is solid boards the dog must jump over horizontally; it uses solid board instead of the PVC pipe).
The Tire Jump obstacle is not a rubber tire, but is made from plastic tubing and held by metal or a PVC pipe frame with cording and a chain. The tire’s opening is usually between nineteen and twenty four inches and the dog must jump through. While the tire is raised off the ground, the height is not the real challenge of the obstacle; instead the challenge comes from being able to time a jump through a target. Jump too early and the dog will come up short, but jump too late and the dog may hit the bottom of the ring.
Dog agility tunnels come in various sizes and lengths (they depend on the dog you have and what level of competition you are entering). They are usually 24 inches in diameter and are made from heavy-duty vinyl. There is also a wire frame that gives the tunnel its shape and allows the dog to run through it.
The tunnel’s length can be between ten and twenty feet, and there are different ways that it can be set up. For example, the tunnel can be laid out straight or bent/curved to add an additional challenge. Some competitions have the tunnel in the shape of an “S” while others will make a small loop with the tunnel. These differing shapes provide the dog and trainer some variety and test their ability to adapt.
The Weave Pole obstacle is made up of six to twelve vinyl poles secured to a straight line metal base.2 Depending on the dog’s size, the poles will be spaced twenty to twenty four inches apart. The dog will enter the weave poles from the left and weaves in between the remaining poles until the dog reaches the obstacle’s end. This obstacle really challenges the dog’s agility and change of direction speed with rapid zig-zagging.
What obstacles do you need for dog agility?
The following obstacles are used for the sport of dog agility:
- Dog Walk
- Pause Table
- See Saw
- Standard Jumps
- Tire Jump
- Weave Poles
What makes Dog Agility Equipment Unique?
The unique part of dog agility equipment is that each obstacle tests different skills. While a dog may excel at one or two obstacles, a well trained and agile dog competitor can handle all of them. The majority of these obstacles can be set up in a backyard, so almost any dog owner can begin training their dog; just remember to have a lot of treats ready for encouragement!