Dog agility equipment can be a great tool for you and your canine to get into shape. They are a fun way to keep your dog healthy with exercise at any age. Yes, even good older boys can be trained to complete an obstacle course. Whether you’ve gotten a new puppy or adopted a rescue dog, dog agility equipment is a cool way to teach your new furry friend obedience.
If you’re new to the world of dog agility equipment then the many different designs can be overwhelming. How is each piece supposed to be used? Is it just as suitable for your small Beagle as it is for a Labrador Retriever? Which dog agility equipment is the best for newbie dogs and pet owners?
To navigate your way through the many choices we’ve listed our top picks for the best agility equipment you can buy on-line. Learn what to look for in dog agility equipment and check out our favourite options.
- 1 What Are The Benefits of Dog Agility Equipment?
- 2 Our Top Picks For Dog Agility Equipment
What Are The Benefits of Dog Agility Equipment?
Dog agility equipment is not just for putting on a show. Although, that is an excellent goal to have while you’re training your dog. There is a range of benefits your four-legged friend will gain from using this training equipment. These should be the reasons why you purchase dog agility equipment for your pooch, not the potential trophies you can win.
Health Benefits of Exercise
Every dog needs exercise to stay happy and healthy. Of course, taking your dog on his daily walk is a good form of exercise, too. However, agility training impacts Rover’s body differently compared to his regular walk. This makes it a more complete form of exercise for your dog.
Agility training is a great way to keep your dog’s joints working properly. The different obstacles your dog runs through will require different movements and so keeps his joints supple.
Joint health is one of the reasons why agility training is recommended for older dogs. Lack of exercise is one of the reasons why older dogs get stiff joints. A few runs through the obstacles will help to keep your old timer flexible.
When your dog already has joint problems or if you have a breed that is prone to joint issues, consult your vet. Check which exercises are best and perhaps also how to adjust the exercises as your pal grows older.
With stronger joints also comes improved muscle tone. For naturally active dogs, like Greyhounds and Terriers, this is a great way to keep them fit. It also prevents weight gain in dogs that are prone to put on a few pounds. This is why agility training is also often used as a technique for weight loss in overweight and obese dogs. Agility training is more engaging for your dog than long walks. You might have a better chance in coaxing chubby Bello into doing more exercise when it’s in the form of a stimulating obstacle.
A final health benefit is a better stamina. The obstacles in agility equipment are meant to be completed at a quick pace. While your pupper is getting the hang of it, she is also developing her heart and lungs. Healthy heart and lungs improves their blood circulation which in turn gives them more energy to exercise longer.
Improved Cognition Skills
Some dogs are a bit more clumsy than other dogs. If you think that your pooch could benefit from better cognitive skills than agility training could help you do that.
Dog agility equipment trains your dog in spatial awareness, focus and general coordination. Think of how Milo needs to estimate just how fast he needs to go to make the jump over the bar. Or how low he’ll need to go to crawl through the dog tunnel. These are feats that even us humans need some practice with.
Focus & Obedience Training
Dog agility equipment is designed to be a team exercise. This means that both you and your dog need to work together to make it through the obstacles successfully. This requires precise communication from your side and strong obedience from your most loyal friend.
As mentioned, the obstacle course is meant to be completed at a quick pace. This means that your commands need to be clear and short. You can combine words or very short phrases with hand movements to communicate with your dog.
There are no specific rules on the words and movement to use. Whichever is easiest for your dog to interpret is the way to go. It’s smart to train your dog in the basic commands before you introduce agility equipment. Moving through the obstacles can be distracting so your dog needs to have a reference point.
Learning to react to commands quickly will show your dog that obedience is important. Your dog will also recognize that you are the leader that needs to be followed at all times.
Engaging A Dog’s Natural Instincts
Some breeds were intended to be used as working animals, often on a farm. Breeds like German Shepards and Irish Wolfhounds were working animals. Other working animals are huskies which pulled sleds and the Pointer which was originally a companion for hunting.
If you own one of these breeds, you might notice that they can get a little anxious without enough exercise. Their natural instinct is to perform the jobs they were bred for. Dog agility equipment can mimic some of these actions and settle their nerves.
Agility training could also help dogs with behaviour issues. Often a dog’s bad behaviour comes from lack of mental stimulation and exercise. Keep your pooch from chewing on your slippers by engaging him with an obstacle course instead.
Our Top Picks For Dog Agility Equipment
These following links will take you to our top picks for dog agility equipment. We’ve taken care to include sets that are for beginners as well agility equipment more suitable for the advanced doggos.
Pawhut Pet Agility Equipment
This set from Pawhut’s dog agility training series is a great starting point for beginners but also a handy set for the more advanced. This set is suitable for both groups because it is easily adjusted to your dog’s needs.
Pawhut has included a hoop, four poles and all the poles and bars you need to build a high jump. To make the setting up of the obstacle course easier, the set includes eight steel stakes and two spikes to stick the poles into the ground.
You can have your dog weave through the poles, like they do in football practice. The same poles can be used to hold the bar for the high jump. And if your dog is more advanced, you can build a high jump with a hoop for your pooch to jump through. That’s three different obstacles in one set.
If you have more than one dog then this set will help you save the cost of buying a different set of agility equipment. The hoop has a diameter of 50cm which means that even a larger dog like a Golden Retriever is able to jump through. Your Saint-Bernard might struggle though. Pawhut has also taken into account smaller dog breeds. If you have a smaller dog like a toy poodle then the bars for the high jump are easily adjusted to a lower level.
The best part about this particular product is that all the pieces can fit into one easy to carry bag. This lets you take the dog agility equipment anywhere you want to go.
Jessejump Agility Direct
Another option for adjustable dog agility equipment is the Jessejump set of weaving poles and high jump bars. The set comes with nine poles that can be used for a weaving obstacle. These same poles can be adjusted to build three separate high jump hurdles.
The poles come with detachable heavy duty spikes to keep them steady in the ground. However, as is customary for dog agility competitions, if your dog bumps into the weaving poles then the poles will move.
The set includes jump cups. These are the extra bits that you will need to build the high jump hurdles. The jump cups can be set at any height to suit the size of your dog. You can also give your dog the extra challenge of setting high jumps at different heights.
The poles are made of PVC to keep them lightweight. The entire set only amounts to a weight of 1.6kg so they are easy to bring with you to the park, even without a bag.
We recommend the Jessejump agility equipment for pet owners that are new to agility training. The set is easy to put together and easy to carry around. Weaving and a high jump are the basics in dog agility training so this set serves as a good start for your new shared activity.
Rosewood Small Dog Agility Hoop
Specifically designed for the smaller pooch, this Rosewood small dog agility hoop will have your little one making jumps of joy.
The Rosewood agility hoop measures at 68x32x70cm including the structure to hold the hoop. The hoop is only big enough for a small breed like a Shih Tzu or Lahsa Apso. The height of the hoop can be adjusted so even the smallest toy breeds like a Chihuahua can have fun with this hoop hurdle. Don’t try to have your Weimeraner or other large dog jump through this piece of agility equipment.
The structure is made out of 100% foam which makes it lightweight. The parts are easily taken apart and fit into a specifically designed bag. This makes this piece of equipment great for bringing along and to store at home.
Since the size of the structure is reasonably small, the Rosewood agility hoop can even be used indoors. This makes it the ideal piece of agility equipment for small apartment dogs. If you don’t have a room inside the house that is big enough for agility training then simply take this lightweight equipment outside.
TecTake XXL Agility Tunnel
The TecTake XXL agility tunnel is a fun addition to your agility equipment if your dog is already well trained in the sport. A tunnel requires strong trust and communication between the pet owner and the dog so we recommend this particular piece of equipment for the more advanced.
The dog tunnel is made of lightweight polyester. Don’t worry about the tunnel blowing away with your dog in it because the set comes with 12 metal pegs that will secure the tunnel to the ground.
The TecTake XXL agility tunnel is quite long. The tunnel runs for five meters and has a diameter of 60cm. This broad space makes it suitable for larger dogs like a Border Collie, too.
Despite it’s size, the tunnel can be folded to fit into the specially designed bag it comes with. This agility equipment is somewhat heavier than the previous sets with just poles, though. The tunnel weighs four kg when in the bag, still light enough to bring with you to outdoor spaces.
Pawhut Wooden Pet See-saw
Another great piece of agility equipment for the more advanced is the Pawhut Wooden Pet See-Saw. This is an obstacle whereby your dog will walk unto the dropped side of the see-saw and step forwards until the other side drops to the ground. It teaches your dog about balance and trust.
The see-saw is designed for outdoor spaces. Fir is used for the wooden structure which is then covered with a protective water paint for more durability. The part where your dog will walk over is anti-slip felt. The anti-slip felt is made with sand grains and asphalt to give your dog a better grip while on the obstacle.
The Pawhut See-saw is suitable for smaller breeds but also sturdy enough for larger breeds. The see-saw is able to carry a weight of up to 50kg despite the structure only weighing a total of seven kg. This means that both your big boy and little pooch can have fun in the garden with this piece of agility equipment.
Tips For Dog Agility Training
Now that you’ve decided on which piece of agility equipment to get for your dog, it is time to get to training. Here, we will give you a few tips on each of the obstacle types that we have chosen as our top picks.
First, there are few commands that your dog needs to be fluent in. These basic commands will be used throughout the agility training so it is important that your dog already has a good understanding of the commands. Otherwise, guiding your dog through the agility equipment will be much more difficult.
The basic commands that you and your dog need to be comfortable with are sit, stay, come and lie down. Once your dog understands these commands and is immediately obedient when told to do these actions, you can start on the agility training.
Slowly introduce your dog to each piece of agility equipment. Let Bowie sniff the equipment first before guiding him through the movements needed to get through the obstacle.
Always remember to be patient with your dog. All tricks take time to learn. You can encourage him through the process with healthy treats and lots of petting. Once your dog has successfully completed an obstacle, don’t directly make the challenge more difficult. Let your dog gain confidence with the obstacle before making it more difficult.
There are several methods for teaching your dog how to weave through poles. What all methods have in common though, is that you should create a path that guides your dog through the poles.
You can use a wire or a mesh material that moves through the poles the way you want your dog to move through them. Hang the material at about your dog’s shoulder height. This will deter her from jumping over the material. You can guide your dog through the poles with a leash to show the correct movements. Have her get used to the walking pattern and learn to pick up a little speed before removing the guiding paths gradually.
In the beginning, set the poles further apart. Your dog needs to get used to the unnatural walk and more distance between the poles will make this easier. Narrow down the space as your dog becomes an expert weaver.
Start teaching this trick with the high bar placed on the ground. Have your dog stay on one side and let him simply step over the high bar. Repeat a few times so he will get the idea. As he learns to understand to go over the bar, you can raise its height and have your dog jump over. Slowly raise the height, don’t rush it. If you raise the bar too quickly then your dog will tend to crawl under the bar instead of over it.
Training for a jumping hoop is similar to the training for a high jump. Have your dog simply walk through the hoop with the hoop placed vertically on the ground. Same as with the bar, gradually increase the height. It is okay if your dog is still walking through the hoop at lower heights. If he is already used to the idea of going through the hoop, then he will naturally take a jump when the hoop is high enough.
For a dog that isn’t used to a tunnel obstacle yet, it helps to buy a tunnel that you can press together to create a shorter distance. In the beginning, have your dog walk through the tunnel at its shortest possible length. This will help your dog get used to the crawling and ducking he has to do to get through. Then, slowly increase the length of the tunnel as he masters the movement.
Your dog needs to build confidence to walk through the tunnel without seeing you. In the beginning it helps to wait for him on the other side before he enters. It might help to have a friend who can hold your dog on one side. Otherwise, the command to stay should be enough. Later, once your dog understands the command, you can walk alongside the tunnel as he is going through it.
The see-saw is more difficult to train on your own. Your dog might be apprehensive about the movements of the structure. It helps to build your dog’s confidence first by having a friend control the movement of the see-saw. Meanwhile you’ll guide your dog to walk across the plank.
Let your dog walk unto the see-saw while your friend holds the plank steady. Guide your dog to walk on and have your friend match the movement of the plank to the speed of your dog’s walk. Once Buddy is in the middle, keep the plank in a horizontal position. He should learn to stay still and anticipate the drop to the other side. Have your friend slowly lower the plank as your dog totters down. Slow and steady is the key with this obstacle.
Are you ready to get started on dog agility training? Even if entering competitions are not your ambitions, dog agility equipment can be a great addition to your pet’s life. Dog agility equipment can be of great use in keeping your furry friend flexible, healthy and mentally stimulated. It also teaches obedience and builds a bond between you.
Start with the easier obstacles for your dog and don’t overwhelm your pooch. Dog agility training requires lots of patience and encouragement from the pet owner. Don’t feel discouraged when it takes a longer time.