Dog Agility Equipment: Where Do I Begin?
by Brad Carlson
There is such a wide selection of dog agility equipment, where do I begin? There are several factors to consider when making your agility equipment purchases. Two major factors are your goals and your dog.
Are your goals to develop a deeper bonding with your dog by taking agility classes together, having fun, and seeing how far you and your dog can progress with agility skills? Do you have a timid dog and want to develop confidence in him? Or do you have a high drive dog and want to help him burn energy in a controlled manner? Do you want to do agility as a just for fun activity or are you setting your sights on making it to the nationals and becoming an agility instructor? All the previous factors are important to consider when purchasing your equipment.
An agility course has contact equipment, jumps, weaves, tunnels, closed tunnel, and possibly a pause table (depending on your agility venue). It would be wonderful to have a full course of agility equipment in your backyard, but it's not necessary to learn the sport. Contact equipment consists of dog-walks, A-frames, and teeters. It is a good idea to have at least one contact obstacle. Many people select to purchase a teeter because the motion often causes a dog hesitation. If you can't fit a regulation piece of equipment in your yard, consider an 8' dog-walk instead of a 12' or even select from mini-contact equipment that is available to train your dog on.
Jumps. You can never have enough single jumps, but you also might think about a double jump or triple jump. If you cannot purchase a double or triple jump, you can place two or three single jumps together to practice. Eight single jumps give you lots of drills and exercises to practice and interchange.
Tunnels, chutes, and tables are variations to add to your course. Tire jumps are very popular to have in backyard training. Pause tables are essential in our agility training program. They are our center and focal point for developing our directional commands and building distance.
Weaves, critical for having at home. The type of weave to purchase depends on your method of teaching. Is your agility class using weave chutes, angled weaves, or straight lined weaves. If your instructor is teaching a specific method, than its easiest to purchase the same type of weaves. We have trained five different agility dogs, each with a different method and in the end they all have nice weaves.
There are a variety of training aids that can help you develop the behavior you want from your dog on the equipment. Buja boards are excellent for timid dogs that need to build confidence slowly. Contact trainers are great for back chaining your contact behavior, and they are smaller so you can bring them indoors for winter training also.
About The Author: Brad Carlson is a dog trainer at Agility by Carlson. For more training details, visit our website at www.carlson-agility.com