If you have any leftover materials from previous home improvement projects, you can easily turn these into a fun obstacle course for your dog to run through. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your pet, help them get more exercise and teach them sweet tricks to impress your friends and family. Here are a few ideas to get started!
Homemade jumping obstacles
Jumping is a simple trick to teach your dog as an introduction to obstacle training. You can start by simply holding a long PVC pipe a few inches above the grass. Encourage your dog to step over it and reward them with a treat. Raise the bar progressively until they have to jump over it.
A more permanent jumping obstacle should feature a movable bar, so you can raise it as your dog becomes more adept. A PVC pipe or wood structure is cheap and easy to assemble. The horizontal bar should rest loosely on the structure so that if your dog fails to jump, the bar will collapse to prevent injury.
DIY weaving obstacles
Professional competitions feature 6 to 12 ft. poles stuck in the ground that dogs have to weave through. Such props can easily be replaced by small orange cones, yardstick rulers or PVC pipes painted in a bright colour. To train your dog, either walk him through the course using a leash, or hold out a treat and encourage him to follow you through the obstacles.
Simple dog tunnel
You can find lightweight, collapsible play tunnels for children in most toy stores: these are cheap, easy to store and very similar to the props used in dog competitions. Alternately, you can tape together large, emptied-out cardboard boxes to create a tunnel 4 to 5 ft long. If your dog seems hesitant to crawl inside, you can encourage him by throwing in a few treats, or (if the tunnel is wide enough) by crawling inside yourself to show them it’s safe.
Homemade walks and ramps
A dog walk is a narrow and elevated platform meant for your pet to run across. It can be as simple as setting a long piece of plywood on cinder blocks or stacked bricks. To make things more interesting, raise the platform higher and add inclined ramps at each end for your dog to climb onto or slide down from. These can also be built with a piece of plywood resting on a simple wood structure for increased stability.
Consistent command words
For each maneuver in your obstacle course, use a single command word like “Jump” or “Up”. Reward your dog with a treat, friendly pat and praises whenever they succeed at a challenge. This will help training run smoothly by creating a positive association between the command word, what’s expected of them and the tasty, tasty reward.