When training your dog to follow basic commands, you might want to take it a step further and practice agility exercises.
This can be a great way to bond with your dog, and build up a relationship that is unmatched. Breeds that need a lot of regular exercise benefit from agility training because it uses their brains and bodies to keep them fit and healthy.
Additionally, agility training helps your dog tune into their natural hunting instincts and face obstacles to get their food just like they would have done in the wild.
There are many ways in which you can begin agility training, and a great starting point is weaving poles.
Teaching your dog to weave between poles will not only provide an impressive party trick, but help build up your furry friend’s muscles, stamina, and neural activity.
Not to mention, the versatility of pole weaving. Once your dog has mastered weaving agility, you could even try teaching them how to weave between your legs when you’re walking.
Keep in Mind
Some things to consider before attempting agility training include your and your dog’s overall fitness.
You don’t want to risk causing strain to an already weakened heart or respiratory system, for example. Another essential point is your dog’s breed and overall temperament.
Some breeds are more stubborn than others and will not be the easiest to train.
It’s important that you carry out your own research about your dog’s breed and check how easy or difficult they can be before attempting pole weaving.
Some breeds are more predisposed to enjoy the challenges faced with agility training, such as collies, Australian shepherds, and sheepdogs.
On the other hand, some breeds that prefer to do things their own way and don’t typically take well to agility training are shih tsus, beagles, and bloodhounds.
If you want to train within the comfort of your own home or backyard, there are some options for creating the perfect weaving pole obstacle course.
From assembling PVC frames with specifically spaced poles to alternatives based in the ground, there is no need to spend a lot of money on agility weaving poles.
These are some DIY ideas you can try to make your own, as part of a larger assault course or even as a starting point to dog agility training.
For more ambitious owners, you could even enter your dog into a competition or local league so that you have something to look forward to and motivate your hard work.
Another essential thing to keep in mind before beginning training is what treats your dog likes the best, and to use a lot of positive reinforcement to let them know that they’re doing a good job.
It will make them more likely to do it again if they know that they will be rewarded.
Agility Weaving Poles
Normal agility courses feature 12 poles spaced 24 inches apart. Whether you want to start off smaller by building a mini version of this using six poles, or if you want to get your dog used to the setup from the offset.
These are some great ideas on how you can use materials around the house to create your own agility weaving course.
Use Household Materials
Firstly, you could use household items to start and see how well your dog takes to that.
However, a drawback of this is that they will get used to moving around thicker items and build up the muscle memory according to that.
When you then make the switch to thinner poles that can be moved around a lot easier, you might find yourself having to get your dog re-acquainted with the weaving movement.
This is fine, but it might mean that you spend more time on this stage than you had initially planned. Of course, this can be a bit of a setback if you have a competition or event coming up that you’re wanting to be prepared for.
In spite of this, this is a great way to start agility training because it reinforces the behavior and shows your dog that doing something that might feel strange at first for them will be rewarded.
This is a good option if you don’t have spare materials around the house, since you have more flexibility about what you can use. It is also a great option for breeds who need a bit of extra memory practice.
Some dogs are known for poor memory capacities, and so it’s worth spending a little extra time building up that internal map for them to recognize.
One of the most common materials used to make at-home agility courses is PVC because it is sturdy, lightweight, forgiving, and affordable.
Cutting spare pipes to the appropriate size is a good option if you have different-sized dogs that you’re wanting to familiarize with the process of weaving in and out.
Because the pipes use connecting joints that can be left so that they are easy to take apart and change around, this is the most universal option suitable for many breeds and types of training.
The configuration can even be made more complex or simplified, depending on how challenging you want the course to be.
The most common form of PVC agility weaving mechanisms is made in the form of a frame that is somewhat permanent but can be moved around easily and added to.
This is also a great option if you want to share with your friends and their dogs because it’s easy to assemble and take apart when needed.
It’s one of the more universal and portable options.
Stakes in the Ground
Another option if you have a specific area to practice in is to create a more permanent circuit that can be left for longer periods.
You can use snow markers or any other stakes that go in the ground on a grassy lawn. Create a distance and arrangement that works for you and that your dog can easily move through, then secure and slide some scrap pipe over the top.
This is a way in which you could use wood as stakes. However, a benefit of using ground markers is that they are more flexible and forgiving when brushed against.
Unlike wood, metal or PVC material will bounce back and return to its original place, whereas wood will fall out or even break in some cases.
There are several options for creating your own dog agility weaving course, from poles in the ground to make a frame that can be extended or customized in any way to suit you and your dog’s needs.
The great thing about agility training DIY is that there are so many options to choose from to make something that both you and your dog enjoy.
To summarize, there are several ways in which you can create your own weaving pole course setup, varying in complexity and materials.
Some of the essential items that you will need regardless of which configuration you choose are a small saw to cut pipes and other materials, measuring tape to check the distance between poles, and keeping consistently sized spaces.
Additionally, an area which you can train in is equally important, as is having a supply of your dog’s favorite treats that can be used to reward and encourage them.