CHOOSING AGILITY EQUIPMENT
Agility has grown and rapidly continues to grow across the globe. If you have read any of my other articles, you know that agility is without question right up there in the top five of all doggie activities that make for a truly bonded dog and handler relationship. One that is created with trust and confidence in each other, a real dog team.
Before you start on the path to agility greatness, consider your objectives. Is your goal to compete at the Nationals, or are you just interested in having some serious fun with your dog? Either way, you are in for a fun ride, but it is good to know ahead of time when looking at equipment.
Next is your training. Unless you know an agility trainer, make sure that you find someone who uses only positive methods, and who knows the sport, not someone who kind of dabbles in agility, but is a specialist in some other dog sport. There are books and CDs galore on the subject.
Lastly, is the choice of equipment. If you are handy at all, there are plans being sold all over the internet to make your own obstacles. But if you are like me and missing that “do it yourself” gene, you need to start shopping for equipment that is safe for your size dog, made of quality materials, and most importantly, “won’t break the bank.” With the vast amount of agility equipment being sold in today’s market, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find something to meet your needs.
Let’s look at some components to the equipment that you need to keep in mind when out there in the Agility Equipment Buying Jungle.
Where are you going to set up? If you live in the city with a postage stamp size yard, you only have two choices. One is to only look at the mini equipment (which also can double as indoor equipment for those cold winter months. See my article on Winter Agility Training) or get standard size equipment and plan on doing a lot of set-ups and tear-downs while only training one piece at a time.
How about the size of your dog? This is BIG TIME important; you would not want your dog getting rattled or spooked on or in a shaky piece of equipment. Scare him enough and he may well decide “I am never getting on that thing again.” So measure your dog’s height and weight to ensure you are acquiring the proper size, holding ability, and proportions for your dog.
Agility is a tough and physical sport. Therefore, if you are training a canine senior citizen, his ability to finish a full course run is going to be limited. That being the case, obviously your only goal with that older guy is to have fun. (You can include the whole family on dog outings.) Just remember to only buy equipment that is compatible for his age and physical limitations. Please don’t let that stop you from agility. Just temper it with common sense, and your vet’s approval.
As I mentioned earlier, the quality of your agility equipment is a priority to your choice. Now since I can’t see what you are considering buying, your only option is to either find a construction guy to check it out. If you can’t physically see it, call to ask questions of the builder/manufacturer. Try surfing the web for equipment, read any comments, and look for recommendations.
Your dog is putting its faith and confidence in you. So buy only from the most trusted and honest shops. There are plenty of agility forums on line and agility people are a warm and fuzzy bunch. It won’t take long to get the feedback you are looking for. Remember that this is an outlay of your hard earned cash and your dog’s safety, so be very picky.