Dog Agility Equipment and Obstacles
History of Dog Agility
Agility training and dog obstacle courses were shaped after a Steeplechase in England. The first debut was in the UK at Crufts in 1978, and has become the fasted growing dog sport among both spectators and competitors because it is fast and entertaining. Dogs, too, love the sport; it lets them to run, jump, and climb, exercising many of the behavior they enjoy. The sport also allows the dogs to have close contact with a handler, giving them all the attention they want. Agility is a great way to help build confidence in shy dogs, but only if you are supportive and enthusiastic.
Books About Dog Agility
Dog Agility Starter Kit
Agility Training Obstacles
Success in Agility requires a great deal of teamwork, preparation, and patience. From the start to finish lines, the dog/handler team races a clock and the times set by other teams. The dog is expected to fly over jumps and through tires, climb an A-frame and seesaw, weave through poles, shoot through tunnels, and pause on a table.
The types of jumps that are used on a course depends on the class and sanctioning of the organization, but for the most part, the jumps consist of two upright bars that are supported by a horizontal bar. They can have wings or panels of various shapes, sizes, and colors. A few specialized jumps include water jumps, bush jumps, window jumps, and the wishing well. The water jump usually set towards the end of the course.
There are four to five different heights to choose from which are determined by the size of the dog's shoulder height. According to the CPE, To measure a dog, the dog must be on a flat service. The dog's legs should be straight down from the body, not leaning forward or back. Dogs should only be measured once unless it's within ½ inch of the next jump, and in that case, two judges must measure the dog and sign the measuring sheet. A dog may need to be moved to a higher jump but never to a lower one.
- Double Bar Jump: Consists of two or three sets of upright bars, with horizontal poles; can have parallel or ascending horizontal bars
- Triple Bar Jump: Consists of two or three sets of upright bars with horizontal poles; ascending horizontal bars
- Panel Jump: Solid panel from the ground up instead of horizontal bars; usually constructed with several short panels that can be removed to adjust height
- Broad Jump: Has a set of four or five slightly raised platforms over a wide area; length is adjusted to the dog's height
- Wing Jump: Bar jump with panels on the sides
- Tire/Hoop Jump: Tire suspended in a frame; dog must jump through tire
Climbing obstacles are also known as contact obstacles which include a dog walk, A- frame, and a seesaw. They are usually made of wood. The dog must place at least one paw on the yellow, contact zone when descending and/or ascending. The contact zone is about 30-40 inches from the ground on both sides of the board.
- A-Frame: Two platforms, usually about 3-feet wide and 8-feet long; hinged together and raised so that the hinged connection is about 5-6 ½ feet off the ground forming a rough ‘A' shape
- Seesaw (Teeter-Totter): A plank of wood about 10-12 feet long, that is supported in the center so it wobbles
- Dog Walk: Three, eight to teen-foot planks, 9-12 inches wide connected at the ends; center plank is raised about 4 feet high, so that the 2 end planks form a ramp to the center
The weave is a series of upright poles that the dog weaves in and out. The dog must enter with the first pole at his left shoulder and proceeds down the line. The poles are about thirty inches tall and spaced about twenty inches apart, but the number of poles can vary between five to twelve poles. Some Weaves are set in the ground while others are supported by a brace that folds for easy storage or breakdown. This obstacle takes the longest to train and perfect.
There are two types of tunnels: pipe (rigid) and chute (collapsed) tunnels. The pipe tunnel is made of flexible vinyl and wire so the it can be formed in a straight line or in various curves in which the dog runs through. It is about 10-20 feet long and 2 feet in diameter. The chute tunnel is made of two parts: an entry- a rigid barrel- and the material attached to it. The length of the material extends about 8- 12 feet, and it's overall length is between twelve to fifteen feet. The dog enters the barrel and burrow through the material to come out on the other side. This obstacle tends to be the favorite among dogs.
The Pause Table allows a place for the dog to stop for a few seconds and take a break from the action. The top of the table is usually a 3' x 3' square, and it is raised about 8-30 inches off the ground, depending on the height of the dog. Some dogs do not like the break between the physical obstacles.
As of 2004, the Tunnel Maze has become a new obstacle in agility courses, but only in the CPE organization. They consist of several interconnected tunnels in which the handler must guide the dog using voice commands. In the United States, only one organization allows the obstacle, the CPE. The Tunnel Maze consists of ten-24 inch- portals with a central transition.