Agility & Rally O
Dog Agility and or Rally O are two GREAT Dog Sports that your German Shepherd Dog will excel in.....with training of course. German Shepherd Dogs (GSD or GSDs) want a job, love a job, need a job. Even if it is nothing more than you playing at or with them with just some "home made", but sturdy, Agility and or Rally O equipment. In Rally O you could use tuned over buckets or the like for your Traffic Cones in the back yard. I have some fun and stable ideas below for Agility Equipment Items and some will cost you nothing more than your time.
I will encourage you to join classes and clubs so that you and your dog can get out around other people and dogs that enjoy the sport. You will learn more, learn more correctly and have a lot of fun meeting folks that enjoy the same dog sports and their dogs as much as you do.
If you can at all Set Up an Area for your Agility Equipment. Here I am working on, little by little by little by little, putting tires into the ground. It is a lot of work and a great Work Out. One direction the Tires are 3' apart. The other direction the Tires are 10' apart. I can have dogs, cats, goats, weave the 3' direction and horses, ponies and our donkeys weave the 10' direction. the Tires can also become Jumps. Cats and Puppies can also use the Tires for 'Tunnels'. The Tires also make a nice Border for our Agility Equipment and Training Area.
All of the photos on this page are, of course, of our own dogs and our own Agility Equipment. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page I have set up step by step of how I am teaching my own GSDs to learn and enjoy the Agility Equipment Pieces. It is more of an Agility Dog Training Journal for my GSD, if you will. It will be an ongoing process, or that is the plan.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Agility and if you look at the "Sister Site Box" at the right, you will see that I have trained Dogs, Cats, Goats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Gerbils, a couple of Fish, yes Fish, and even MICE! to complete an Agility Course. YES! I really have taught these species to run an Agility Course, and not just one of each species, several. And they learned it pretty fast and remembered the course, and enjoyed every minute of the training and the treats they were rewarded with.
DOGS (as well as any animal species) LOVE LOVE LOVE Agility! It is fun for them and they get to run as they go. It is great training and exercise for them too!
DOG AGILITY is so popular that a few years ago, Breyers Horse Company made up a set...and it sold, and sells very well for them.
AGILITY BEGINNINGS AND WHAT ANIMALS CAN ENJOY IT!
The whole idea of animal agility came from Horses on Courses, Steeple Chase. Agility is great fun for all types of animals. Now you can see dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, ferrets, gerbils, mice and who knows what other animals participating....albeit with agility equipment the size needed for the types of animals using it.
So if a mouse, a gerbil and a goat can learn an Agility Course, just think how quickly and well and fast your German Shepherd Dog (GSD or GSDs) would/could/will! GSDs love to be with their people, they love to learn and to do and to go and to please their people. Agility is a great way to spend time with your dog, teach your dog something so that it learns to learn, and have a wonderful time with your dog!
Just about every town, city and county has someone teaching Dog Agility Classes. You might want to join. Not only will this be a fun thing to do with your dog, you get to use their nice equipment and you will meet other people that enjoy their dogs as much as you enjoy yours. You will not only learn to teach your dog each piece of equipment correctly and safely, but you will also learn how to manipulate the course as it will be in a competition run.
However, you do not have to spend a lot of money to have a great time with your dog on Agility Equipment. You can build your own. Just make sure it is the correct size for your dog, vary stable and safe. You can buy garden fencing pieces for jumps in discount stores.
Right now I do not have photos of our GSDs on the Agility Course, but I hope you will enjoy the photos of our other dogs, mainly our Cocker Spaniel, Frankie, enjoying our Agility Area, about 3 acres worth, out here in NW SD. Deron build most, almost all, of our equipment, and the dogs love it!
Yes, that photo is of my guinea pig on the "Dog Walk" my husband made in guinea pig size. I have written articles for several magazines on how to train animals to run Agility Courses.
We will be adding fun ideas and photos of agility ideas for you to enjoy with your dog. If you are looking for instructions on how to teach your dog to compete at Agility, this may not be the web page you are looking for. However, read it anyway as you might just get a few ideas here you won't find other places.
These ideas are for the person that wants their dog to learn a bit of how to manipulate the Agility Equipment and have fun with simple, inexpensive, safe equipment ideas, their dogs and perhaps other dogs and their owners to join them.
These are our English Shepherd puppies, Raya and Midas, playing in the half barrels we set up for them to learn the Tunnel in. They had a ball, and so did I.
You do not need to have the expensive "Competition Grade Equipment" to have a great time with your dog and you probably have many items you could use to train your dog and have a good time right out in your garage. Just make sure all equipment or anything you use for your animals are safe and most of all stable.
Make training fun for both you and your dog. These photos are of Tekoa and Titus coming through a little Open Tunnel for kids that I bought at Salvation Army for $4. I have it in the folded or shut and tied so that they can learn to come through it without the overwhelmness of the 10' dark and scarey Tunnel. Later I will open it just a bit, then more, then all the way. Keep learning fun!
I am betting if you mention that you are gathering items to train your dog to do agility to your friends at work and to other friends you know that own dogs, they may want to join you and come up with more equipment they can put together. If you meet on a regular weekly basis I am betting more and more equipment will be brought to this fun event and soon you will be seeing Competition Regulation Equipment to have a great time on with friends....add a cook out and have fun!!
That said, It is always a good idea for you to read a book or two on Agility before starting your dog. The books might give your ideas on how to train and explain details in how the dog might see the piece of equipment you are going to begin to train.
It is also important to use the correct size equipment for the dog you are training. Tiny dogs and Giant dogs can not use the same equipment, it is just not safe. Some of the Agility equipment is adjustable, some is not. Keep size and safety of equipment above all not only for your dogs welfare, but to make sure the dog is having fun as it runs/learns the course you have set up.
SOME FUN IDEAS FOR FREE OR INEXPENSIVE DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
I can not stress enough that the equipment needs to be safe, meaning not only stable, but also no shape edges, strong enough to hold double the dogs weight you will be using on it, made well, ext.
You might be surprised at what can become Dog Agility Equipment for the back yard.
This "Closed Tunnel" or "Chute" is made with an 18" diameter white plastic barrel I got free from a car wash. I used duct tape to add the inexpensive tarp that I used for the fabric end. When we took this photo I had had the Tunnel for at least 5 years and it was stored outdoors. 24" May not be large enough for some competition Closed Tunnel specifications, but it sure is for the Teacup Dogs Agility Association....perfect for my Cocker Spaniels. There are larger barrels made, so for a GSD, you will need to start asking around for one. Many places of business will give them to you to get rid of them without having to pay someone to haul them to the trash pile. Just make sure you clean out the part you want to use for your dog very well.
I made this Blue Closed Tunnel or Chute the same way. This size is the size opening that is asked for as competition equipment piece by most Dog Agility Organizations. I have had this one for years, as you can see the sled dog decor on the sides. These Tunnels were stored outdoors and you can see how well they have held up (I did cram the tarp chute up into the barrels and stored them standing upright).
The small tube in the background are my Rabbit Agility Tunnels, they were stored inside the larger tunnels.
These "Fence Jumps" I bought at the hardware store. They were less then $4.00 each. We <read my husband, Deron> took the stakes off that were on the jump to stick in the ground and added a short 2" x 4" boards (10ish inches) on each side so that the jump will tumble gently if hit by the dog as it goes over the jump.
These jumps come in several colors (green, black, white, I think there may have been other colors too) and are just at 16" tall. The hardware stores do have other sizes and types, you will have to go and look to see what stores near you stock.
CHECK YOUR OWN GARAGE
You might find a tri-folding lawn chair that could become (while still folded) a Pause Table.
A couple of Cinder Blocks and an old broom might become a Jump.
That old left behind Hula Hoop or Bicycle Tire can make Hoop Jumps or call the tire your Tire Jump.
See that old plastic barrel? Can it be cleaned out? What was in it to begin with? If it was soap you can rinse it out and cut off both ends for a short Open Tunnel, or cut the barrel in half and add a matching tarp to the half barrel with duct tape for a Closed Tunnel.
VISIT GARAGE SALES, FLEA MARKETS AND THRIFT SHOPS
You might be pleasantly surprised at the items you might find at second hand shopping areas. Never over look the toys sections and be sure to go through those boxes, many, many many squeaky toys have been found there for a nickel or so.
Items you might find:
Child's Collapsible Open Tunnel
Human toddler's plastic slides
Plastic Club Houses (great to teach the dog to go in one way and out another)
Small Car Tires (usually free)
A Scooter (for cross training)
A child's wagon, they come in many sizes one for all dogs sizes <grin> (for cross training)
The photo is of my "Spool Jump". Notice that there are two animals in the photo "refusing" from each side. The Spools were free from a Farm and Auto store where they sell cord, rope and chain. When the rope, ect sold, they give away the spools. These matching spools already had holes in the uprights that I just stuck the pole right in.
OTHER PLACES YOU MIGHT FIND FUN ITEMS TO USE FOR DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Stop in that local Car Wash and ask what they do with their plastic barrels when empty (most give them away so they do not have to pay to send them back or to the dump)
Hardware Store for 1" plastic conduit to be cut and used for Jumps or stuck in the ground for Weave Polls
Do you have any trees on your property or know someone that does? Or do you have a firewood pile? A log cut to approx 28" - 30" would make a pivot for a 2" x 10" x 8' board for a Teeter Totter. Just choose the size log you would like to have and screw the board firmly to it.
Two logs approx the same size with another 2" x 10" x 8'board would make a great short Balance Beam. Be sure to screw down the board very firmly and make the your cross board wide enough for the GSD to cross safely.
BUILDING YOUR OWN DIY DOG AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Dog agility equipment is expensive and the shipping costs...my goodness!! But just about anyone can build at least a few pieces of equipment with PVC piping and a little time.
Check the Internet or Dog Agility books for instructions and ideas for building your own pieces. Don't try to build it all at once, you won't need it all at once anyway. Build a piece and go from there. Start with a very simple piece. Ask a friend or lover to help you with one piece and see how it goes, they might just have so much fun with it.....they build you a full set. <you can hope anyway>
In my opinion, if you are going to build dog agility equipment, build it right. It will not cost much more to build it to regulation then to just put something together. There are several different dog agility associations, so look around at their regulations before starting or buying your equipment.
Be creative, you might just come up with an idea that will catch on for regulation equipment.
Building equipment is fun. Deron and I, mostly Deron, have built and do build all sorts of agility equipment for animals. Plan it out and have fun building it.
This is such a great idea. Deron is going to make some of these for me. I got the photo off the Internet. I RELLLLLLY like these. If you had one of these it can be a Jump, a couple a Double Jump, Several will make a Long or Broad Jump. I am going to get the size PVC so that you can put the pipes into the top of the cones for movable, easy to use, add on as you train Weave Poles. And talk about easy to set up and take down and store. Stack these cones, and wrap the pipes and very little space is needed to store them between training sections! I am even thinking about setting these up, at my stride, so that I can get a work out too. If you have equine, you could use these for Horse Training too. ANNNNND! If you wanted to do Rally O, use these same cones.
JOIN A DOG AGILITY CLUB OR SIGN UP FOR A NOVICE CLASS
Here is a way to have a really good time with your dog and other dog lovers. Join a dog agility club in your area or take a novice dog agility class. The equipment will be provided and experts will be on hand to help you teach your dog.
This is a way too to find out if you and your dog are cut out for agility. You can try all the equipment and have a good time. But if you find you or your dog are not agility people you have little invested.
Best part about joining with others that enjoy the sport?!! You will meet people that have the same interests. You may meet a life long friend or even your future spouse.
FUN WITH OUR DOGS IN THEIR NEW AGILITY TRAINING AREA
We are blessed to have an area where we can set up the Dog Agility Equipment and leave it up. It may not be as flat as we would like, or as grassy, but blessed all the same. Between the slight hill and the uneven horizon our MADE STRAIGHT Tire Jump looks, well, not made straight. Don't worry, it is not on such a hill that the dog is at risk when landing.
I am also blessed that my husband builds and helps me build and move items for the dogs and I to play on....once in a while he even joins us.
I have been working mostly with Frankie, who in these photos is 14 months old. He LOVES playing with me on the Agility Equipment. We will be adding photos as we train. The day of these photos we were expecting rain so I did not set up the Tunnels.
Oh, and the boots...this is rattlesnake country!! I have cleared and cleared and at this writing am still clearing all the cactus from the area...I have it all away from the equipment, now I am fanning out for the three acres that we are now calling our dog training area. Actually I am moving the cactus to and under our fencing here, but that is another story, my moat, for a page called "Fencing".
If you are setting up an area in your backyard be sure to walk it before adding equipment. Look for rocks, cactus, holes, or other hazards that humans and dogs might step in or trip over. Set you equipment in as flat as an area as you can find. It is not a good idea to set up on concrete unless you are going to cover the entire area with thick mats.
Your dog needs to be in good physical condition to participate in Dog Agility. Dogs work hard, jumping and running and weaving and running.... You also need to be in good shape. It is a good idea for you and your dog to begin or continue and lengthen your walks together so that you can both be in shape for the running, turning and jumping you both will be doing....human's seem to jump up and down when their dogs do really well on a course.
The day that my husband put the new board on the Sea Saw it was again very windy, so again I did not set up the Tunnels. Frankie did really well learning to walk on the platform and the tilt did not seem to bother him...and he wanted the treats. He also worked on some Stays in his new Backpack....I, of course, think he is adorable!
We now also have a Pause Box and a Crawl Tunnel...we will have to get photos of the Crawl Tunnel. The fabric top (cover) is adjustable for many different heights for different breeds of dogs. When building equipment try to set it up for all types of dogs. You never know when God might send another dog your way, or if someone near you or from your Agility Class might come to join you and your dog on your Agility Equipment.
Can you tell it was windy when we took Frankie's photo in his Sit Stay? Ha3 It is so windy here!
Our Bar Jump is made to Teacup Dogs Agility Association regulations....cute, isn't it? LOL From the angle of the photo Frankie looks a bit big for it, but he's really not....but if he grows much more, he will be. I do say that Frankie is more of an Insulated Coffee Mug then a Teacup and Joy, our other Cocker Spaniel, is more of a Teapot (she might be called fat).
I am so blessed to have a husband that can put these pieces together for me in such a short time and so inexpensively!! I was quite surprised how fast the Crawl Tunnel went together. I thought it was going to be an all afternoon thing.
I took Deron about 45 minutes to make the Bar Jump and cost approx. $4.00 to build. Now if the wind will just slow down, this time of year however, it picks up. <sigh> It sure makes for cute Cocker Spaniel ear photos though.
When I first saw the PVC free standing "Tire Jump" I thought it looked like an Alien....I told Deron, my chief Agility Equipment Builder, (see? give them a title, makes them feel more important out there building the items you would like to have) anyway, I told him I thought it would be cute to add "arms" that it would look more like and "Alien Jump".
The more I thought about it the more I thought it was a good idea. So Deron not only planned it and built it, he added the "antennas". I love this jump....it can adjust to different heights by moving the legs around.
AGILITY AREA MAINTENANCE
When you set up an area for Dog Agility, or any dog training, it needs to be as free of holes, cactus, burrs, rocks, snakes and any other hazards that may be in your area or yard and kept that way.
We have a 3 acre area we now call our Training Area. We are in NW SD so I have to watch for cactus, holes, and other hazards as well as keep it mowed. Many folks will have to move all of their equipment out of the area to mow their lawns...us? Well, here are some of our "Grounds Keepers". We have llamas, goats, horses....so it is kept mowed and fertilized in a way I do not have to worry about chemicals or parts falling off machines. <grin>
CROSS TRAINING FOR THE COMPETITORS
I learned many years ago that cross training IS important when competing.
When I was Racing Sled Dogs and Weight Pulling I had dogs that were what "dog people" call "Nothing out of Nobody" That means that my dogs were just dogs, they were not bred by folks that worked their dogs, they were not bred by big named breeders, just dogs. Guess what? I did well, really really well with my dogs, I won and my dog's earned many Titles. The reason? Serious training and cross training.
So if you want an advantage and a winning edge....cross train. Spend time with your dog doing all types of fun things.
Sled dog training and racing is not for only a few breeds, any breed can learn to pull and almost all dogs really enjoy it!
More ideas, yes even for the Agility Dog, are Backpacking. Backpacking can be an afternoon hike or a week end trip. Deron, my husband and I used to take a few of our sled dogs and take a 5 mile hike. Half way we would stop and cook a meal, maybe bacon and eggs and toast!! The dogs carried all the "fixins" and we shared the good stuff with them. Not only was it fun and kept us all in shape, it was time spent together on the trail learning commands and working together.
Agility dogs need to be limber and fast and think fast. Playing Frisbie (or Disc Dog) with an Agility Dog will keep them in shape without over doing the obstacle runs. The dog does not have to jump up and get the Frisbie, but it is more fun for both the dog and person when they do. It is also great muscle building and tricks can be taught...back flips, no big deal for a Frisbie dog. For GSDs make sure you dog is jumping OUT more than Up, this way the dog will land on the fronts coming down, rather than down flat on it's back hips. GSD should be over 2 y/o before jumping for a Frisbie/Disc.
A nice 2 - 5 mile hike in a hilly area is sooooo good for both handler and dogs. It is a lot of fun and if the dog finds a pond or a creek to swim in, all the better.
This is a photo of Frankie (8/19/08 ) out in a ravine on our property. At this time I did not have an A Frame, but as you can see, I do not think climbing one will be a problem. If you could see just a bit better, this "hill" is just about straight up and down. As we were repairing this fencing in the creek I can not tell you how many times Frankie, as well as our other four dogs that were with us, ran back and forth....but boy did they sleep when we got back. The Fence is about 1/2 mile from the house. Of course being dogs they did not just walk straight out and straight back....look over here, sniff there, swim here, swim there, run, jump and have a great time.
Playing fetch on a regular basis on land or in water or both will build the bond and the bodies of human and dogs!!
Throw a toy or if your dog is really good at fetching, teach it a few tricks. Dogs like to please you. Teach your dog to fetch the newspaper, to find your keys, or to pick up toys, each of these are just fetching games. I have some ideas and information on our Dog Trick page you will find in our menu.
Pulling a cart, wagon, someone on skis, skates, a sled, travios, or the like will surely be a great time for both dogs and humans and will get them both off the couch on the cold days, keeping you in shape for those upcoming warm days of Agility Competition. The idea is to be active all year, not just when your sport is active.
There is much you can do to stay in shape and work those muscles and build that bond that will give you a winners edge when competition comes around....and will be a great time for both humans and their dogs!!
Be sure to get your dog out around other dogs, not just the other dogs in your own home, and train it to not only get along with the other dogs but also to mind you as you walk or run among them.
It is a great idea to get out with friends with dogs and hike, play fetch, have a picnic or a meal on the trail so that your dog is not distracted when it gets to the competition/class place. It is also a must to teach the Agility Dog to Honor other dogs. Honoring is waiting their turn, behaving while the other dogs are on the Agility Equipment and they are waiting for their turn/runs. I have some ideas on how to train many of these ideas I have given here elsewhere on this site. Honoring is on the Dog Tricks page along with many other things to do with your dog that will build a deeper bond between the two of you.
This is a Yahoo Group we host, I would like to invite you to join us there for Agility Conversations It is a great place to ask your Agility Questions or just brag on your dog there
This is a Sport, one you can compete at, that, to me, is an Obedience Course, the O in Rally O stands for Obedience, with numbered obstacles, the other reason for O in the name. Take a look at this Sport on a video and see if this is something you might enjoy doing with your dog.
Rally O could also be a good start for an Agility Dog. With GSD hips being what they are, many dogs having problems with them, Rally O would be a great way to start a young dog. Somewhere between regular Obedience and an Agility Course, but a whole lot of fun and challenging to the dog and handler.
Rally O is also a sport an older Agility dog can work at without too much jumping and running, but it will remain active and happy working in the Show Ring. It is also a great place to start an Agility Dog, or if you the handler can not run through the Agility Course, Rally O would be a fun and exciting sport for you and your dog to participate in.
To practice at home you will need some Orange Traffic Cones and perhaps a jump or two. Buy a Book or explore the Internet for more information on this Sport. I have to admit, it is not one that Deron and I have participated in with our own dogs.
I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.
MY GSD LEARNING & ENJOYING AGILITY
I love Agility! Love it! But so far, I only "Play" at it. My dogs and I love to go out and take a run around the course. Deron has built most of my Dog Agility Equipment. We designed some on our own for fun too.
I bought this cute little Red Child's Tunnel, now called a "Puppy or Small Dog Open Tunnel" at the Salvation Army for $4.
To teach my puppies I used it first in the closed, or scrunched up position so that they could learn to step through it without it being long and dark and scarey. They came right through it several times. I wanted it less than half open for them to learn to come through it before opening the full 6' length. I took three pieces of parachute cord and tied them off while the Tunnel was still tied in the scrunched up position. After the puppies came through it a couple of times all the way closed, I opened it to the next position. They came through just find, rather cute, so I opened it all the way up...no problems for them to come through it.
On this day 9/14/2013 I started them with it half open, then after this went well, I opened it all the way. Remember, Deron was there taking the photos, so he was able to call them, as I set them in the other end....boy that helps!
I spent the morning setting up a New Dog Agility Area that is puppy safe. I set up two sets of used truck tires for the puppies to walk through, a couple of very low Jumps and a Pause Box. I will add the little red Open Tunnel on days that are not toooooo windy to use it. I took each the puppies out together and had them play on it a bit. Then later in the afternoon I took each one out separate and had them "run" (more of a walk through, as it should be) the course. Each really had fun on it and enjoyed the treats given for each obstacle.
So my GSD are growing quickly. I have been working with Texas Tea and Turquoise with a Hoop to Jump Through and Turquoise with the small fabric Training Agility Tunnel. Texas Tea will not fit well into my little red tunnel. So I wanted to get photos of Turquoise coming Through the Tunnel before she is too big too. It is windy here today, they say it is 50 degrees, tell my ears, cause it feels like the 20's out there. Anyway, that little Turquoise is going through and back through that tunnel faster then we can tell her "goood doooog Turquoise!" She is running and playing and having such a good time. She is hardly stopping for her treats. (goood dog!)
Deron got a few photos, but I let go of the tunnel to grab Turquoise to praise her......and the tunnel started blowing away. I started after it, laughing. I am not a runner, I have never been a runner. And the Tunnel was just out of my reach rolling away, and I kept laughing. Deron had to run out and (Deron is a very good and fast runner) get the tunnel. It had blown almost to the 100 foot <shooting> Gong. We were both laughing and out of breath from running as we were walking back to the house, now into the wind. Turquoise, was just having a ball out there, running with the tunnel, and running with us and then......after a cat. She is now trained though......<whispers the word 'trained' as if not there yet!> ...... to not chase the kitties and to come back when we call her. Actually, she is doing well at that. She and Texas Tea both.
Yes. This Summer I will be shallow burying Truck Tires in a row for a permanent Dog Agility Tunnel. I will use my 24" x 25' Blue Fabric Open Tunnel with a Frame I am going to have to build for it <read Deron will build for it> too. But the Truck Tire Tunnel, will be such a nice change!
-- The Working German Shepherd Dogs Team
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 13:41:33 -0400