Agility training for dogs is a great way to keep animals active and challenged. Dogs of all breeds and sizes can learn to navigate an obstacle course composed of jumps, A-frame ramps, see-saws and tunnels following the commands of their trainers. In hunting or herding breeds, agility exercises can substitute for the tasks dogs instinctively love to perform. Weave pole obstacles are fun and provide great visual impact for anyone watching the dog at her task. Agility train your dog for fun, or compete in trials. Build your own course for training or hosting competitions.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2 1" X 4" X 8' sanded boards
- 2 8' pieces Masonite or other hard siding like plywood, sanded and about a foot wide
- 10 rubber crutch or cane feet
- 10 sanded lengths of PVC piping, 3 to 4 feet in length
- 10 heavy screws and nuts
- Construction adhesive (contact cement)
Build two lengths of five poles each by attaching PVC piping to two 8-foot lengths of wood planking secured to a hardwood or Masonite base.
For each weave pole assembly, measure to space poles evenly and 20 inches apart. Plan the distance from the end of each assembly so that when the two sections are placed end to end the distance between the fifth and sixth poles is also 20 inches. Mark spots for drilling.
Drill through 1" x 4" board and through bottoms of the rubber caps. Thread the screws up through the plank and through the caps on the far side, so that the head of the screw is on the bottom of the board and the screw itself protrudes into the inside of the cap. Bolt the caps in place. You should now have two planks with 10 rubber caps screwed to them; it will look something like an odd candelabra. Use washers to minimise wear if you wish.
Secure the bottom of the plank -- the part with the screw heads and not the rubber caps -- down the centre of the Masonite board. You can use a construction adhesive for this to avoid sharps screw ends sticking up where the dog will be running. You should now have a wide plywood or Masonite base for stability with a narrow length of wood running down the centre, regularly studded with rubber cups.
Fit the PVC pipes into the rubber cane tips and set the weave pole obstacle out for use. Your dog should be able to weave in and out between the pipes, with the rubber tips giving the piping flexibility. You may want to cap the pipes for appearance or to make a smoother surface at the top for a larger dog.
Regularly inspect your weave pole obstacle for wear and tear. If subject to frequent use, use PVC caps with rubber washers in place of the cane tips for greater durability.
Tips and warnings
- If you plan to compete, build to United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) guidelines so your dog is comfortable with the spacing and construction of your obstacle.
- Build your obstacles to be easily taken down, transported and reassembled.
- Design a simple pole obstacle for a quick practice by securing sanded PVC pipe lengths into the ground using tent or hardware stakes.
- If you are less than handy you can buy kits to build obstacles from agility suppliers. However, these kits can be much more expensive than the materials contained, so consider acquiring plans and materials and hiring a local handyman to assemble the obstacles for you instead.
- Keep your weave pole obstacle free of any snags or splinters.
- If using PVC pipe lengths instead of steel pipes build some flexibility into the construction to avoid the hazard of the PVC breaking during use.
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