Dog Agility Training Equipment

Dog Agility Training Equipment
Agility Equipment Question?

Hi,
I own a 16 month old Wheaten Terrier puppy and I train for agility. We have mastered the teeter, a-frame, dog walk, table, tire, tunnel, and jumps, and are starting off leash work and weaves. I have a very large basement that I am planning to use as an 'indoor agility arena'. My parents have said that agility jumps, weaves, a table, etc. are good things to put on my Christmas list. I was wondering how many jumps, weaves, tires, etc. that you think I should get, so that I can make a simpler beginner course, but make intermediate and advanced courses when I advance?

In addition, I would like to know some good quality equipment vendors, whether they are on e-bay or have their own site. I would particularly like to know if there is a cheaper mini A-Frame maker on the internet.
Thank you for all you answers,
Ally Girl

First, weaves are a great indoor activity to have. As a rule, I'd do quick work on weaves EVERY day if you want to be reliable with them. And also take them to different locations (that makes a big difference in consistent performance).

Second, rather than try e-bay (which can involve a lot of searching and investigating), just try Affordable Agility. They have a kit called "agility in a bag." 6 PVC weave poles, 2 adjustable jumps, a tire and frame (tire is worthless but it can be replaced by irrigation piping at home depot and the frame works fine), a pause box (worthless), and a chute (cheap but okay) plus a bag to carry it all in for about $150. You can't beat that, especially for something you can take on the road or to a park.

Third, for the basement--well, there are a couple of variables here:
--surface. I would want at minimum, padding plus carpet. If it's a hard floor or surface that will not be good for repetitive jumping or contact with your dog.
--size of the room. Unless you've got a gigantic basement, you probably don't have enough space to do a lot of agility work. Cramming jumps together can be done but it teaches bad habits. Let's put it this way, a "tight" sized course would need to be about 80 feet by 80 feet. You can nest or repeat a lot of obstacles. But in a basement that is 30'x30', you can get a lot of good work done but you cannot really have an advanced course even with nesting--the space will just be too tight. So instead, you do sequence work. And frankly, that (plus the stuff I'm going to suggest below) will be just fine. But to try and do an entire course in a 30'x30' or even 40'x40' space would not be an accurate test or you'd be cramming obstacles so close together you'd be teaching your dog bad technique.

My advice: get the "agility in a bag" kit. The PVC weaves can easily be tilted to help build speed. 2 jumps plus the tire give you plenty to work on. Or, get a metal base for the weaves (they'll hold up well indoors and not get rusty).

And actually, what I'd spend the extra money on (that you don't spend on indoor obstacles) would be a bunch of agility DVD's:
--Susan Garrett, both "Crate Games" and "One Jump Drills". Trust me neither is about just crate-training or using one jump but are IDEAL activities for limited space (like a basement) that have wide application.
--handling system DVDs. If you're really athletic and can run with your dog than I'd get the two Jenny Damm DVD's on her handling system. The Europeans believe in running with their dogs, being athletes on the course and Jenny exemplifies this best out of the 3 handling systems that are widely used.
--Wendy Pape's "Games to Enhance Agility Training" which is not only a good DVD but very good for winter and indoor training stuff.
--a gift certificate to Clean Run.
--cones (to designate the course path)

Now, something that is invaluable to an agility competitor (and you may already have) is a video camera. It doesn't need all the bells and whistles. But it needs to work with a tripod, you can trigger it on or off from a distance, work well in bright light and basement lighting. I now video all of my runs at trials and when I was taking classes I taped every run I could in class. It's amazing what you'll learn from watching yourself.

As far as the mini-A-frame, what you should probably look at what is called a "contact trainer." The Affordable agility site I told you about has one. I don't like them that much but they're ideal for training contacts in tight space or indoor. Also, it's not so much that you want a mini-A-frame but to minimize pounding on your dog's joints you'd lower the A-frame anyway.

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