Dog Agility Obstacles and Equipment

Dog agility is a fast growing pastime for dogs and owners alike. Whether you are going to try dog agility at home, or join an agility club, you'll need to familiar yourself with the common equipment and obstacles used in dog agility. Here's our quick guide.

Weave Poles

Tricky but good fun, the weave poles can be quite a difficult obstacle for a dog to pick up but once they've got the idea they will love darting in and out of the upright poles as fast as they can. Consisting of 5 to 12 poles (depending on ability), the dogs must enter the line with the first pole on their left and then manoeuvre their way amongst the poles as fast as they can without missing any or leaving the line early.

High Jump

Horizontal poles are placed between two wings for dogs to jump over without dislodging the poles; the dog is usually mid run from one obstacle to another so these jumps are set to catch their speed, helping them to reach the required heights. The jumps are set at different heights depending on the dogs' size, it wouldn't be fair to make a Chihuahua attempt a jump set up for a Great Dane!

Long Jump

Also known as the Broad Jump, this jump consists of wooden planks laid on the ground which gradually increase in height from front to back. The length of the jump will vary depending on the dogs' size as they're not meant to be able to just step over them! To help the judges see that the dog has completed the jump correctly, there are markers placed at the end of the jump. At no point should the dogs' paws touch the boards.

Tunnel

A simple concept which is a favourite to many dogs. Usually made from vinyl, this bendy tube can be twisted into a variety of bends or just left as a simple, straight tunnel for the dogs to zoom through. The tunnel length can also be changed with the minimum requirement being 10 ft; for most competitions the length is set around 4 metres.

Pause Box

A good test of a dogs ability to come to an abrupt halt from a dead run. Usually used in the middle of a course, the pause box (or pause table) is a flat table set up depending on the dogs' size which they have to jump up onto and then stop, usually in a sitting or flat position, and here they must stay for 5 seconds before you give the command to continue the course. An excellent way of showing off how obedient your dog is (or not in some cases).

A-Frame

Made from two 9 ft horizontal boards which meet at the top to create the A shape, this obstacle is all about contact. With yellow areas painted at the bottom of the boards, you must ensure your dogs touches these with at least one paw when jumping on and off the frame, they must not begin too high on the frame or jump off too early.

Dog walk

Made up of 3 wooden planks totalling around 12 ft in length, your dog must walk up one plank, along the second, which is usually 4 ft off the ground, and then down the third, ensuring they touch all of the contact areas and not jumping off too soon. These planks are narrow (9-12 inches wide) and so can be pretty tricky for those clumsier of dogs!

Seesaw

Built like a child's seesaw (minus the seats, of course), the dog must walk from one end to the other, touching all the contact areas along the way. As the dog climbs up and reaches the middle of the plank it will then tilt so that the high end descends to the ground; this far end must touch the ground before the dog jumps off. Obviously smaller dogs will find it harder to shift the planks weight which is why the balance is slightly off centre to make it fair for all.