A Dog’s Playground

A few months ago I was browsing the shelves at my favorite store…TJMaxx…when I happened upon a super find. On one of the end caps there were several boxes containing AKC agility course obstacles. They were very inexpensive at less than $10 each so I picked up a bar jump, a tire jump and a tunnel.

My muse Lucy is an extremely intelligent Jack Russel Terrier so I knew she could pick it up. What I didn’t know was how fast she could learn or that she would teach herself. The bar jump was a breeze as she already knows the over command. She was skeptical of the tire jump but eventually learned to trust it. I set the tunnel up last knowing this would be the most difficult. As I sat down to read the training instructions, Lucy sat by my side somewhat impatient as she eyed the tunnel and the treats in my hand. Before I could finish reading her the instructions (because that’s what I do), she bolted through the tunnel, down the shoot, emerged from the other side, and returned for her treat.

That was the moment I decided I had to have a full size agility course on the property, one that could be used by both Lucy and the border collie, Hobbes. This past weekend the husband and I built four obstacles along our road to the river. We thought about purchasing lumber and supplies but ultimately decided to keep things as natural looking as possible. Here are the results so far:

The first obstacle in the course is the beginnings of a panel jump. It will most likely double in height as both dogs become accustomed to it. We used a split log and two long deck screws to hold it in place between the trees.

The second obstacle is a single bar jump that is designed to fall if the dog’s legs hit the bar. Again, just a lightweight branch perched between the trees.

The tire jump is the third obstacle in the course. We used some leftover water drainage pipe and I attempted to camouflage it with green paint over the black plastic. This photo shows a hideous green tint not true to color. We used carabiners and camouflage rope to attach it between two trees.

Here is a photo of the first three jumps in succession.

The fourth obstacle is a simple beam. Lucy hasn’t done one before so rather than a full dog walk with ramps I thought this would be a good one to start with. Again, trying to keep the course as natural as possible we made the beam out of a fallen tree and a salvaged piece of timber from the river.


The first run through with the dogs was very rewarding. Lucy instinctively knew just what to do. Hobbes was a bit skeptical but caught on to the whole treats for tricks concept. Next up: log hurdle.

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About Susan Warren Utley

Susan Warren Utley is a wife and mother living and writing in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her stories are inspired by the unexpected twists and turns of real life and by her muse, a feisty Jack Russell Terrier who occasionally answers to the name of Lucy. View all posts by Susan Warren Utley

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