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home made agility 'stuff'?

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I'm looking for resources that will help me build some agility things for home - I mean - sizes and standard, I am comfortable with the building of things..


I have built weave poles - he loves that.


I have built a small teeter totter - he loves that


I have built a variety of jumps - he loves them all..


You can see the pattern


I don't even know what the fabric tunnels are called - but would like the basic specs? How tall, how long, how long should the flat part be, etc?


And the big A frame structure? length, height, spacing of 'steps', etc?


And anything else.. I've missed.


Sparc is one year old, and each day we do agility stuff (did I mention he loves that) and he is fully fully ball crazy - an hour or more of that a day (chasing).


I know the suggestion will be to find a club / group - and I was about to do that last summer.... (you may remember me from then?) I was diagnosed with cancer in mid August - so here I am in hospital again (So far 3 surgeries (last went very well!), and now on my 4th round chemo - I hate this) - the 'battle' has really ended any out of the home stuff for me for the entire fall, and probably all of the winter too (Chemo will have me down until the end of Feb). I do, when not here in hospital, give as much attention to Sparc as physically possible, and I would like to add to his toy supply.


I'm hoping I can send my wife out to buy some wood and supplies, and I can built some more fun things for Sparc..




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HI Bob -


Do a search in google. You will find tons and tons of places that will give you info on the tunnels, A-frame, dog walk, etc.


Just do a search for agility equipment plans or building agility equipment. That should help you.



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I found that the NADAC web site has all the specs. My husband built an A-frame, teeter, bar jumps, hoop jump, and weave poles. My only complaint about the weave poles is that they are not flexible at all, so we are going to get those white poles used for electric fencing and use those instead.




USDAA also has their specs posted: http://www.usdaa.com/rulesReg_ObsReqs.cfm


Allie & Tess

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Here's a few threads from other board members who have similar ideas.


I'm planning on ordering or building some things of my own too. I'd love to get Lily into agility when she's older, I think we both would have a lot of fun with a small backyard course.




This one was really creative: cardboard boxes and those noodle things you can use as a seat type float in swimming pools. They don't cost much at all and you can find them during the summer at any store like Wal Mart or Target, and they come in a lot of bright colors. I think they'd make excellent safety bumpers at the top of the jump.



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Hi Bob,


I bought the "agility in a bag" kit from Affordable Agility and really like it (we also work on real agility equipment).


You can get a 12' play tunnel from JC Penney. There are other play tunnels out there, but this is the cheapest and most suitable, short of a real agility tunnel.


Here are some sites with plans for agility equipment:







One caution. Since you are obviously going to beat the cancer and be doing agility for a long time to come , you should be aware that training without good instruction means that you could easily be introducing bad habits that will take a lot of work to erase later. There are some good books and videos out there. Ask if you want recommendations.

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Exactly what I was hoping to see, thanks so much for the links - some excellent information and clever ideas too.. My shopping list is growing :rolleyes:


For Alaska - indeed I do know there is a potential for a problem with bad habits - I am pretty sure the issue may be Sparc doing too much rather that too little - I have been training dogs most of my life and I really enjoy the challenge, and so far have not found anything he can't pick up - Sparc is amazingly quick to learn, but since I don't really know the standards for agility, I have been having a lot of fun trying out things, and so far they all work so fast (BCs are smart).


A simple example, since I'm bored right now I'll share (sorry) .. teaching him the weave poles, something I had never done or seen done - I made my course from PVC pipe once I learned the spacing - I put together 16 feet of them (it will be interesting when he first sees a different number / length, but I am confident he will handle it very quickly).. I decided to guide him through the poles as a way to learn it - I did read about a number of ways of teaching, but wanted to try this.. After a day or two of guiding, I was able to walk along side just reminding him.. within a week he was completely hands off, and within a month I had to run to keep up with him - he decided on his own how to speed up, and it is amazing to watch how fast he is now.. I realize, since he does not move the poles as he goes, it is not the standard fast way, but since he is faster than me jogging in a straight line, I figure it is ok.. and we're having fun..


I am not sure what the standard is for entering, (left right or random) so he goes outside of me, and I alternate (sort of) starting from the left side or the right side for the weave.. I'm guessing there is a standard, but what the heck, he will do either..


Same sort of thing with my 'mini flyball' and jumps - I give him commands that are probably more than usual, but it was more stuff for him to learn.. (Simple example - I have 3 jumps that he goes 'over' or 'under' - depending upon what I tell him... well, as long as I get the command to him quickly enough). and so on.. The reality is I may not be able to do formal agility with him (I mean that it seems the dates and locations they have the events here are always a conflict for me - I am VERY involved in Highland Games here in the Pacific Northwest - I am responsible for some pretty big web sites for Bagpiping (more than a million visitors a month), and I do tons of photography of Bagpiping related stuff). I would love to get involved in BC comps, but even if that doesn't work out, the backyard stuff is a tremendous amount of fun for us both..


Whew.. lots of words... :D




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www.cleanrun.com has lots of books & videos with good training techniques. They also publish Clean Run magazine, which is a wonderful training resource. Each month they have a column with exercises that can be done in your backyard (with limited space) and a column on building equipment at home called "The Construction Zone." You can also buy back issues that are great. There are several special issues each year where the entire magazine is devoted to a specific topic like weave poles, jumping techniques, or starting puppies. Might be just the thing to check out while you are recovering : )


Best of luck,


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I'm back at home now, and built Sparc a few new jumps yesterday. Took a few (hundred) photos :rolleyes: today, just cause I love doing that too..


Here he is going through his new 'tire' jump. I love the look on his face: lp7t0103.jpg


Thanks again for all the pointers to resources - lots more to buy and build, and Sparc continues to amaze - how much he loves playing with this agility stuff..




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Looks good, and like he is having fun with it!


I got this magazine last year that I recently re-read, and there was an excellent article in there on designing and building your own agility equipment, complete with how to tips, pictures and lists of equipment needed.


Here is the link for it if you're interested in it, it is in the right hand column, just above the magazine on Border Collies, "Bordering On Genius." It has a smooth coated b&w BC on it in a play bow and is titled "Tricks and Games to Teach your Dog." It's the fifth one down.




The magazine on BCs is excellent as well, I got that one at the same time. You'll see some familiar names in from this board; I know Eileen Stein contributed to one article, as well as a few other members I believe.

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Good to hear you're home, Bob. Hope things go well from here on.


Thanks for posting those stunning pics. How many hundred photos did you have to take to get that first one - it is a magical photo - absolutely in focus, and captures the grace and intensity of Sparc - just wonderful.

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Thanks Barb,


It was actually embarrassingly easy to get those photos of Sparc - I simply had him 'stay', positioned myself on the other side of the jump, then told him 'through' (perhaps a strange command.. but he knows what I mean :rolleyes: - he knows 'over' 'under' and 'through' for jumps so far... humm - will there be anything else?)..


I took those using the AI Servo function of my newest camera - Canon 1D Mark II - AI servo automatically tracks moving subjects (at up to 180 MPH) and the motor drive shoots at 8.5 frames per second - so I have dozens of sequences of Sparc jumping through the 'tire'. In the case of that photo - the close up of Sparc is simply cropped from the other image, to show his face..

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Bob, best of luck with the big C. I'm fighting it now with one of my dogs....I know its different, but I do hope you beat it!


1) You've gotten some excellent recommendations -nearly too many to follow up on! :rolleyes:)

2) Your photos are great! Sparc obviously has figured all this stuff out.

3) My little warning - if he is really only one year old, you should probably not be doing full-height jumps, or even weave poles, if the dog's growth plates haven't closed. This can cause problems later on, and it looks to me like you want to be doing this for a long, long time! )

4) Weaves are judged such that the dog enters to the right of the first pole. If you're never going to compete, and don't really care, what the heck! FUN is the name of the game! However.....I thought the same thing. I'm in the middle of nowheresville when it comes to agility, but dare I mention how many miles I've traveled over the past few years, going to trials and training?? (I won't, but its a LOT!) Agility can be very addicting, and it looks very much like you might have "caught" it!


Contacts are another thing where (1) bad early training can cause heartburn (why is training so easy and RE-training so incredibly hard??) and (2) full-height A-frame can be hard on young dogs' joints.


I wish you the best. You've got a real agility machine there!



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Thanks Diane,


I am making the most of my two weeks between chemo rounds - new toys for Sparc, new camera body for me :rolleyes: , and trying to have as much fun as one can between chemo rounds..


Related to weave entry - I'd guess 2/3rds of the time we enter that way, so I'll just drop the other side entry - good to know.


I do hope to some day take Sparc to agility events - the challenge is just the timing of them here - I am quite busy most summer weekends here with bagpiping events (which usually also include agility trials :D ) I really do plan to find some events for him (us)..


I have been fairly careful to limit jumps until recently, but I was thinking at a year, and with our ground very wet and soft... I had no idea about weave poles as a concern? Or the A frame? (which was to be one of my next building projects)




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Wow Bob! Nice photo.


I went straight to DP Review and checked out that camera, sure that I just had to have one of my own...until I saw the price! Oh well. Now I know what it takes to get that freeze frame performance.


Hey, I just wanted to clarify my earlier comment about developing bad habits if you don't have expert guidance. Agility is less about individual obstacles than it is about the teamwork and handling that allows you to move through a course together, a course that only you know the route through. The bad habits I was referring to were on the part of the handler! BC's are so sensitive to their human partner that they will notice very subtle differences in body language that you didn't necessarily intend to make (e.g. a slight tilt of the shoulders toward or away from the next obstacle). Because of that, you end up making their job a lot harder if you are not doing yours well. That's where you need a skilled observer to point out what you're doing that might be confusing for the dog.


I'm not suggesting you shouldn't keep up what you're doing -- it looks great! -- just wanted to give you something else to think about as you progress (if you weren't already at that point).


My dog and I built our handling foundation with a great online agility class that I'm forever recommending to folks who don't have easy access to a local club. I bet you'd enjoy it too, and I know the instructor would enjoy you and Sparc:


Cyber Agility


You're an inspiration, Bob! You make me want to go build some more stuff right now. Actually, I'm in jump production mode as we speak, because we're doing Suzanne Clothier's jump chute training, which requires 10 jumps by the time you're done. I'm up to seven so far

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just gotta say I really Love that photo of Sparc going through the "tire". The look on his face is priceless! Jester and I are just starting our second class (intermediate, I guess) in agility, but we are really just rank beginners, of course. It is such fun, though, isn't it?

The best of luck to you and lovely Sparc

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