One way to bond with your dog and help keep them in shape is by helping them learn to run an agility course. However, buying the equipment for agility from a pet store will set you back hundreds of dollars. Instead, head to the hardware store and save yourself some cash by putting together your own agility equipment - it isn’t terribly difficult, and it will let you customize a bit more. Stock up on the PVC pipes - here are some basic tips to get your started.
Probably the most recognizable piece on an agility course is also one of the easiest to put together. All you will need are several 18-inch PVC pipes (you may need to adjust size for your dog, but 18 inches seems to be the sweet spot), a couple 24-inch PVC pipes, and some elbow and tee connectors. Lay the 18-inch pipes in a straight line to form the base, connected with the tees. Make sure the empty section of the tee is facing straight up, and set another 18-inch PVC pipe in the opening. Beginning weave pole sets typically have six uprights, and twelve is generally the maximum.
At each end of your weave pole set, use an elbow connector with a 24-inch PVC to provide some stability. The should be laid out opposite ways from one another, so that the entire set forms a Z-shape. Finally, add some screws to the pipes so they don’t spin as your dog runs through them.
This one is a bit tough to make on your own, but you can repurpose a kid’s play tunnel. This will cost significantly less money at a toy store than most pet stores will sell an agility course tunnel for. The only thing it might need is some form of support at the curve and the end to keep it from moving if your dog hits it at a fast speed.
Jumps are also very simple to make due to a very handy item: jump cup strips. They come in a variety of sizes, but they will clasp around PVC pipe so you can set jumps at adjustable heights. Even better, they also allow the jump bar to fall if your dog hits it, allowing you to see how well they are doing and keeping them from being injured if they hit the bar.
Again, you will need to create some PVC pipe bases, allowing for feet to the front and the back of the jump as well as a connecting pipe between. Then, set up a vertical PVC pipe on both of the bases and connect the jump cup strip to each. Finally, lay a PVC pipe across the two bases, setting it at the appropriate height.
There are some other agility course items you can build yourself that will require a bit more elbow grease - teeter-totters and A-frame ramps will both require a visit to the lumber department, for example. However, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to help your dog run around the backyard or park with you.
When you’re done with the agility course, make sure you’ve got a supply of a stain and odor remover like Bio-nihilator on hand - in case your little champion has an “oops” moment once you’re back inside the house.