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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So we built an addition onto our house last year, and the grass never grew back in part of the yard. Rather than invest in more grass seed this year, we decided to install a fence and enclose a play area for Kairo. Fence went up yesterday, and next step is that we are thinking of investing in some agility or obstacle course type equipment. Anyone have a backyard agility course set-up and/or could speak to how you introduced your pup to the concept agility training? I'm not exactly sure where to start as I am just beginning to research the idea, but Kairo is dialed up to 10 everyday and definitely needs a job lol. Here is a clip of the new fenced area, and Kairo having a "ball":
 
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Nice fencing! Deja had a ball like that and had the same behavior. She wore herself out in an OCD manner. She also kept biting at it and I was worried that the hard material would damage her teeth. I threw it away.
I have seen websites about making your own agility equipment. HomeDepot is your resource!
 

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So we built an addition onto our house last year, and the grass never grew back in part of the yard. Rather than invest in more grass seed this year, we decided to install a fence and enclose a play area for Kairo. Fence went up yesterday, and next step is that we are thinking of investing in some agility or obstacle course type equipment. Anyone have a backyard agility course set-up and/or could speak to how you introduced your pup to the concept agility training? I'm not exactly sure where to start as I am just beginning to research the idea, but Kairo is dialed up to 10 everyday and definitely needs a job lol. Here is a clip of the new fenced area, and Kairo having a "ball":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUoC3G2rjf8
Looks like he's having a great time! I have an area in the backyard for Xena ("Xenaland"). I tried to go the DIY route a couple years ago using tires, fence posts, poles and other stuff I found. No. Interest. At. All. But at least I got a good workout. If you live in a military community, they're a great resource (that's where I found Xena's trainer), especially if they work with MWDs. You might want to check and see if there's an obstacle course somewhere around just to test out Kairo's interest level before investing a lot of time and money on something he/she won't use.

By the way, is Kairo happy being out there alone and entertaining himself? I just ask because Xena refuses to stay outside unless I'm out there with her. But I don't know if that's a GSD thing or a Xena thing.
 

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I had a friend of mine build a few pieces of equipment for very little money. There is plenty of information online about the how to build the pieces. My friend built me an A-frame (It seems like 6 foot tall might be standard, but I had him make mine 5 foot tall because I am shorter and I felt like it might be less intimidating for the dog) a teeter, a jump and weave poles. It seems like the total cost was $100-$150 dollars. Some of the websites talked about building the jump and the weave poles out of PVC pipe and that is what I had my friend do, but that was a mistake. First one dog chewed them up and the next dog finished them off.

Mind you, I just did this for fun and exercise, it was never about competition or anything like that so my "course" was not laid out in any regulation way. I tried to start out small with the first dog, doing the weave poles and the jump, but we never did much on the teeter or A frame because he got sick with cancer and I had to have him put down. The next one, I started out with the A frame, after seeing him go up and down the A frame in his trainer's yard, but we haven't so far has much success with the teeter. I think Rocky's trainer is going to build me a wooden jump as soon as he can.
 

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Clip & Go sells different pieces that you can combine with standard pvc and other materials to make your own agility jumps and other equipment. If you're handy, that's a lot cheaper than buying them ready-made. :)

One safety thing to underscore if you DIY is to make sure everything will "break" if the dog accidentally hits it - all jump bars should be easily knocked down (never fixed in position), tires should be in pieces (most are now magnetized) so they break apart and the dog can't get hung up, etc.

I'm in the process of trying to improve my set of weave poles.... I don't really want to drop the money to buy a proper fixed metal set, but one of my dogs is fast and forceful enough that she has snapped several of my stick-in-the-ground poles clean off the stake base. Someone recommended buying flexible metal driveway marker poles - the thin kind like you'd use to mark for snow plowing - and then drop the taped pvc poles over the top. That's gonna be my next experiment, since it'd be safe for the dog but still affordable and I can salvage the busted poles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice fencing! Deja had a ball like that and had the same behavior. She wore herself out in an OCD manner. She also kept biting at it and I was worried that the hard material would damage her teeth. I threw it away.
I have seen websites about making your own agility equipment. HomeDepot is your resource!
Thank you. Yes, I have been checking out some DIY websites in my research as well.


And as far as the ball, yeah Kairo tries to bite it also, and I am mindful of the wear to his teeth. He's had that ball for several months, and he has played with it less than 5 times, not because he doesn't like it, but because he pushed it all over the yard, and I couldn't keep up with him lol. The enclosed fence will help with that for sure, but it's not something I'll let him play with everyday, but on those days when he is "high strung", it'll be a great tool to let him burn off some excess energy, even if for 5-10 minutes at a time. :wink2:
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks like he's having a great time! I have an area in the backyard for Xena ("Xenaland"). I tried to go the DIY route a couple years ago using tires, fence posts, poles and other stuff I found. No. Interest. At. All. But at least I got a good workout. If you live in a military community, they're a great resource (that's where I found Xena's trainer), especially if they work with MWDs. You might want to check and see if there's an obstacle course somewhere around just to test out Kairo's interest level before investing a lot of time and money on something he/she won't use.

By the way, is Kairo happy being out there alone and entertaining himself? I just ask because Xena refuses to stay outside unless I'm out there with her. But I don't know if that's a GSD thing or a Xena thing.
That's one of my concerns too, same you found with Xena, will he even be interested? I don't want to invest a bunch of $$$ if it's not something he'll want to do. When Kai went to puppy bootcamp a few months ago, the trainer had some equipment set up for the dogs she trained, and I reached out to her for some feedback on her equipment. Thought about asking her if I can bring Kai over sometime just to try out some of her equipment and get a feel for Kai's interest, which is an awesome suggestion!


Honestly, I've never really left Kairo outside alone for more than 5 minutes. Before putting up this new fence, we have a cheap no-dig fence installed in a smaller area for the dog's bathroom area. You can see it in this pic, and I'll let Kai out there to do his business, but he has always done his business and come right back to the door when he finishes. Kairo has always had a lot of anxiety issues, and it's something we work on just about every day, and he has made giant strides. However, when he was younger, he wouldn't even go out half the time, unless someone stood on the porch while he was out there or walked down the porch steps with him. Even today at 8 months, if I don't come back and let him in within 4-5 minutes, he practically knocks the door down to come back in, but at least he is ok to be outside by himself now, and he would much rather be outside than inside, always. I don't plan to leave him alone in the new fenced yard either unless a family member is outside with him, though I'm sure he would thoroughly enjoy himself if I did, but probably only for 5 minutes or so, til his anxiety kicked in lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had a friend of mine build a few pieces of equipment for very little money. There is plenty of information online about the how to build the pieces. My friend built me an A-frame (It seems like 6 foot tall might be standard, but I had him make mine 5 foot tall because I am shorter and I felt like it might be less intimidating for the dog) a teeter, a jump and weave poles. It seems like the total cost was $100-$150 dollars. Some of the websites talked about building the jump and the weave poles out of PVC pipe and that is what I had my friend do, but that was a mistake. First one dog chewed them up and the next dog finished them off.

Mind you, I just did this for fun and exercise, it was never about competition or anything like that so my "course" was not laid out in any regulation way. I tried to start out small with the first dog, doing the weave poles and the jump, but we never did much on the teeter or A frame because he got sick with cancer and I had to have him put down. The next one, I started out with the A frame, after seeing him go up and down the A frame in his trainer's yard, but we haven't so far has much success with the teeter. I think Rocky's trainer is going to build me a wooden jump as soon as he can.
Same here, I am only interested in it for fun and exercise as well, not any kind of competitive nature. The A-frame was the piece I was thinking about starting with also. I have a friend who is a master carpenter, so I'm sure he could build any type of wood-based equipment I wanted, but I'd definitely want to gauge Kairo's interest before getting too far ahead of myself.


So sorry to hear your first dog got cancer. Breaks my heart...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Clip & Go sells different pieces that you can combine with standard pvc and other materials to make your own agility jumps and other equipment. If you're handy, that's a lot cheaper than buying them ready-made. :)

One safety thing to underscore if you DIY is to make sure everything will "break" if the dog accidentally hits it - all jump bars should be easily knocked down (never fixed in position), tires should be in pieces (most are now magnetized) so they break apart and the dog can't get hung up, etc.

I'm in the process of trying to improve my set of weave poles.... I don't really want to drop the money to buy a proper fixed metal set, but one of my dogs is fast and forceful enough that she has snapped several of my stick-in-the-ground poles clean off the stake base. Someone recommended buying flexible metal driveway marker poles - the thin kind like you'd use to mark for snow plowing - and then drop the taped pvc poles over the top. That's gonna be my next experiment, since it'd be safe for the dog but still affordable and I can salvage the busted poles.
Awesome! Thanks for the tip on Clip & Go. Will definitely check them out. Appreciate the sound advice too regarding making sure the equipment will break. That makes a ton of sense! I know I need to do more research on how to introduce Kai to these opportunities, and I probably need a to read a book or two and watch some videos, but curious how you even began to teach your dog to zig-zag through the weave poles?
 

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Awesome! Thanks for the tip on Clip & Go. Will definitely check them out. Appreciate the sound advice too regarding making sure the equipment will break. That makes a ton of sense! I know I need to do more research on how to introduce Kai to these opportunities, and I probably need a to read a book or two and watch some videos, but curious how you even began to teach your dog to zig-zag through the weave poles?
There are a few methods out there ~

Look up videos on "channel weaves", and then look up "2 x 2 weaves", which are two of the more popular methods. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, after doing some research, I came across this guy on YouTube who made his own agility equipment out of pvc pipe. Since I didn't want to spend a lot of money til I see if Kairo takes to it or not, we did a little DIY project today! A trip to Lowes and $43.14 later, we've got three pieces of equipment to at least get us started. Unfortunately, the rains came before we could really start training today. Pics before the rain came...
 

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For introduction & initial training, I'd look for a class. To maintain interest, you may want to put up most of the equipment when you are not "using" it. (OK OK so I leave my hurdle and wall up all the time --- but they are not fenced (other than the property perimeter --- which is about 6 acres out of 10).



I got a book from Dogwise.com a few years back that had info on standard equipment. I did nothing with the book except to read it.....
 

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Well, after doing some research, I came across this guy on YouTube who made his own agility equipment out of pvc pipe. Since I didn't want to spend a lot of money til I see if Kairo takes to it or not, we did a little DIY project today! A trip to Lowes and $43.14 later, we've got three pieces of equipment to at least get us started. Unfortunately, the rains came before we could really start training today. Pics before the rain came...
That's great! And sorry, I never got a notification that you responded to my first message. Anyway, did Kairo have any prior experience with obstacle courses or did he just immediately know what to do? I'm thinking specifically of the one where he's jumping after the ball. I had something like that set up, but Xena balked when I tried to get her over the pole and wouldn't budge. She's always respected boundaries, ever since she was a puppy, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. If a ball goes into a flower bed with fencing or anything else that denotes a border, she really hesitates to go after it, and when she does, she's extremely careful. Which, of course, I'm thankful for. But I wonder if she sees the horizontal bar as some kind of border and that's why she wouldn't go over it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
For introduction & initial training, I'd look for a class. To maintain interest, you may want to put up most of the equipment when you are not "using" it. (OK OK so I leave my hurdle and wall up all the time --- but they are not fenced (other than the property perimeter --- which is about 6 acres out of 10).



I got a book from Dogwise.com a few years back that had info on standard equipment. I did nothing with the book except to read it.....
Thanks for the suggestions. We only got to spend 5 minutes yesterday "playing" with the equipment before it started raining, but I think Kairo is gonna take to the jumps ok. The weave poles, we'll have to see lol. Good point about how to attempt to maintain interest. Since we do most of our playing and training outside of the fenced portion of the yard already, I'm hoping Kairo will get amped up to work on the agility stuff whenever we enter the fenced portion of the yard. Would love to move up to the A-frame and see-saw at some point, but that all depends on Kairo and whether or not agility is something he enjoys doing.. Time will tell.

That's great! And sorry, I never got a notification that you responded to my first message. Anyway, did Kairo have any prior experience with obstacle courses or did he just immediately know what to do? I'm thinking specifically of the one where he's jumping after the ball. I had something like that set up, but Xena balked when I tried to get her over the pole and wouldn't budge. She's always respected boundaries, ever since she was a puppy, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. If a ball goes into a flower bed with fencing or anything else that denotes a border, she really hesitates to go after it, and when she does, she's extremely careful. Which, of course, I'm thankful for. But I wonder if she sees the horizontal bar as some kind of border and that's why she wouldn't go over it.

Thank you, and no, Kairo has no prior experience whatsoever. Yesterday, we got to spend maybe 5 minutes just getting introduced to the equipment after it was all constructed before it started raining. He does have an extremely high prey drive however, and I can get him to do just about anything if chasing a ball is involved lol. I figured that would be the easiest way to introduce Kai to the equipment. My wife took the pictures, but what the pic of Kai jumping after the ball doesn't show, is that before the jump, I was standing over him holding his collar, while he was in the sit position, then I tossed the ball over the jump, gave the "go" command, then let go of his collar, and away he went. As far as boundaries, I find that Kairo is much more careful indoors than outdoors for whatever reason. Indoors, if his ball goes under a piece of furniture, most times rather than trying to get it, he'll just go to his toy box and pull out a new ball. Outdoors, he'll pretty much go wherever he has to in order to retrieve his ball.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Following the rain remnants from Florence, and the almost unbearable heat & humidity prior, we finally had a decent weekend weather-wise this past weekend. We finally began introducing Kairo to some agility training basics with the DIY equipment we built. To this point, I've pretty much done all of Kairo's training. However, last Friday afternoon, I had a conference call for work, and I asked my wife to take Kairo outside while I took that call. Since his outdoor play area had finally dried out from all the rain, my wife took him to the run and unbeknownst to me, they began working with the agility equipment. When my conference call ended a half hour later, I went outside to let my wife know I was finished and Kairo could come back inside. My wife proceeded to show me what they had been working on for those 30 minutes.

Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with what they were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Kairo continues to amaze me with how quickly he catches on to just about anything we throw at him. (No, I can't get him to stop peeing on his front leg whenever he lifts his hind leg to pee yet, but that's another story lol.) Anyway, we have a long way to go with agility training, but I think my concerns as to whether or not he would be receptive to agility have been alleviated. Below is a video I recorded on Saturday of Kairo getting some more training in.

 
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I am impressed by the PVC pipe agility construction!
And you can reconfigure it or change height if it gets boring...very nifty!

We have six balls buried somewhere in the backyard...
currently we have ZERO balls to play with.
He is very sneaky, and whenever I am not looking, he goes and BURIES them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nice work!
Thanks. We all have to start somewhere, right??? :grin2:

I am impressed by the PVC pipe agility construction!
And you can reconfigure it or change height if it gets boring...very nifty!

We have six balls buried somewhere in the backyard...
currently we have ZERO balls to play with.
He is very sneaky, and whenever I am not looking, he goes and BURIES them!
Yeah, the flexibility is a bonus, as it's very easy to move around and reconfigure. I did use some tent stakes to help secure the weave poles into the ground.

I guess yours is burying all those balls to save a for a rainy day lol.
 

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This is just a layman's opinion, but I think this is excellent for being so new to the equipment!!! Kairo looks like a natural to me and may even do well in competition if he is trained for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Newlie. Have to admit, he never ceases to amaze me. Doubt we'd ever get to the point of competition as my main motivation is to just try new and different things with him. Kairo has sooooo much energy, so I am always looking for ways to burn that energy doing new and exciting things with him. Don't ever want him to get bored doing the same old things over and over. So we'll see where the agility thing goes, and I'll prolly add some additional equipment down the road I am sure. I'd also like to try dock diving with him eventually too. :)
 
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