Training your best friend for the dog agility course obstacles requires a close relationship and a lot of trust between yourself and your dog. Agility is a team sport. While there are specific guidelines for AKC agility course competitions, there are more laid-back ways to get involved and to compete with your pooch as well. You need not necessarily have a specific breed of dog or register with the AKC to enjoy the benefits and fun of dog agility.
Dog agility is quickly growing in popularity for both participants and spectators. A dog agility course consists of 14-20 obstacles. There is a limited amount of time to complete the course and in the proper sequence of obstacles. A judge will decide which obstacles will be used in the course.
The course must consist of four standard obstacles and the rest can be of the judge’s choosing. The obstacles can be in any order the judge likes. Strong non-verbal communication between the handler and the dog is essential to run the course accurately and within the allotted time.
The 4 Standard Dog Agility Course Obstacles
- A-Frame – This obstacle is two panels placed together in a triangle shape at a standard height of 5 feet 6 inches, that the dog runs up and then down the other side. The panel is between 35 and 49 inches wide.
- Tunnel – The dogs may go through an open or closed tunnel. This refers to the ends of the tunnel. There are different specifications for open tunnels versus closed tunnels according to AKC regulations.
- Seesaw – Similar to a child’s teeter-totter, this is a 12-inch wide and 12 foot long plank on a fulcrum the dog must negotiate.
The seesaw can be the scariest obstacle as it moves under their feet. It is recommended you begin to train this obstacle using something low to the ground, like a skateboard or child’s wagon. You can also create and use a balance board. A balance board is made with a piece of plywood the size of the dog’s stance and a brick or small ball that is placed underneath to make it unsteady.
- Weave Poles – Here dogs weave to the left and to the right between poles set up approximately two feet apart, depending on the style of course.
The weave poles are the most challenging of the dog agility course obstacles to teach. There are many different approaches to teaching this skill and you will likely need expert help on the training. To get started at home you can place plant stakes in the ground 2 feet apart. Be sure your dog enters the poles between the 1st and 2nd poles from the left side.
Additionally, teach your dog tricks that will enhance his flexibility. These tricks would include spins, bows and weaving figure eights. Practicing these maneuvers will get them ready for weaving through the weave poles.
Other Dog Agility Course Obstacles
Dog Walks, including Crossovers and Tower configurations
Pause Tables and Pause Boxes
Sway Planks and Bridges
The dog agility course obstacles described above are the most common and typically standard in an agility course. There are, of course, many more obstacles than four in any one course. Agility courses come in all types of configurations and difficulty levels. They are also built for different height and skill level dogs.
PlexiDor Dog Doors encourages you to spectate an agility competition for yourself, if you have not already. See what all the fuss is about. PlexiDor manufactures standard and electronic dog doors for small to extra-large dogs. Contact our Customer Service department or call 888-PETDOOR with any questions on our products.