If your dog can’t get enough running and jumping, a few obstacle toys in the backyard might be just the thing to keep him busy and entertained. The sport of canine agility uses a great mix of fun obstacles, and a few of them make for perfect fun at home, too.
The A-frame is simple to build, but if you have a large dog make sure it is solid enough to support him. This obstacle is made from two sheets of plywood nailed together to form a large “A.” Attach strips of 2x2s running parallel to the ground on both sides, to give your dog a way to grip the wood as he climbs up over it and heads down the other side. Don’t make the peak of the “A” so steep that your dog has trouble navigating it.
This obstacle is a long, fabric tunnel supported by round wires that make it easy for your dog to dash through. To get your dog used to it, set the tunnel up so it is kind of squashed together in a straight line. Even a little dog is not likely to be intimidated when it’s just a short run through and he can clearly see where he’s going. As your dog gets used to the game, make the tunnel longer and add turns, to challenge your pal. Stake the tunnel down so it doesn’t roll while your dog is inside.
You’ll definitely need to participate with your dog when it’s time to play with the weave poles. These are a series of poles placed in a straight line and spaced according to the dog’s size. The object is for your dog to weave in and out through these poles as quickly as possible, weaving to the left of one, to the right of the next one, then the left again, until he has gone through them all. You don’t have to weave with him, once he understands what to do, but you can still encourage him to go as fast as he can.
The seesaw is just like the children’s playground toy, except that your dog gets to play on this one. It’s a long board, balanced on a center pivot point, and it’s typically carpeted with some indoor-outdoor carpeting so your dog doesn’t slip. To use the seesaw, your dog runs onto the board and heads up the incline to the middle. Experience, and you, will teach him that he needs to pause in the middle, when the balance shifts and the high end of the board drops to the ground. Once it does, he can complete his run to finish this obstacle.
- brown puppy dog running with ears up in air image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com