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Pets With A Mission, Inc.: Inside Agility Games

Pets With A Mission, Inc.: Inside Agility Games

Pets With A Mission, Inc.: Inside Agility Games

The weather has been challenging with a deep freeze for days followed by flooding rains.   In the summer and parts of the spring and fall, it is hot as blazes.  Mother nature’s contributions are not conducive for taking the dog walking.  Regardless of the weather, dogs and cats need exercise.  Active dogs need to work off some energy to reduce the likelihood of developing destructive behaviors like digging up the yard or excessive barking.  So, it is time to consider alternatives that can take place indoors.

If your home has a long hallway, a game of fetch may be appreciated.  My dog and I had two games that we played using the hall.  The first game was traditional fetch.  From the living  room, I threw a squishy ball down the hall toward the back door.  She would hurry down the hall, grab the ball, and bring it back to me so I could throw it again.  In the second game, she would stand in the doorway where the living room met the hall while I was across the room.  I would try to roll the ball through her legs and get it past her.  Her job was to block my shot or if the ball got past her, grab the ball before it reached the back door.  We enjoyed both games.

If fetch is not your dog’s game, indoor agility could be their thing.  Dog agility competitions are on TV and YouTube.  There you will see dog athletes run through a variety of agility obstacles.  Cat agility is also a thing and YouTube has those videos, too.  Home agility can be used by young animals, active adults, seniors, three-legged animals, blind or deaf dogs and by cats. 

You do not need to buy expensive agility equipment.  Instead, you can make it out of ordinary household items and a little imagination.  Items such as a broom handle, several trash cans, and a medium or large sized cardboard box can become agility equipment.  If you cannot find some items in the garage, a few other items could be purchased to expand the agility course:  a one-inch diameter dowel, a four-inch diameter PVC pipe or black landscape pipe about six inches long cut in half length wise, and a board or two that is six to eight inches wide and four to six feet long.  If you are handy at woodworking, building some agility equipment is a fun project.  Of course, agility equipment can be purchased, if you are so inclined.

The first piece of agility equipment is a simple jump.  First, a word of caution.  Puppies under a year old are still growing so they should not jump over anything more than their ankle height.  Their jump should only be a step over.  Adult dogs that are able can jump over something to about the height of their elbow.  A jump can be made by placing a broom handle or dowel on top of two trash cans or two boxes of the same height.  The goal is for the dog to jump over the handle without knocking it off the trash cans or boxes.  The handle should not be attached to the trash cans or boxes.  That way if the dog misses the jump, the handle will fall harmlessly to the floor.     

A cardboard box can be turned into an agility tunnel.  Make sure the box is open at both ends and large enough for your dog to comfortably walk through it.  The goal is for the dog to go through the box without stopping or turning back to their entry point. 

A pause table could be a bath mat or towel spread out on the floor.  A piece of cardboard probably is not the best idea since it could slide when the dog steps on it.  The goals is for the animal to step on the table and wait about five seconds or until you tell them that it is ok to leave that location.

A low dog walk is easy to construct with a four to six-foot-long board and several spacers that will raise the board about four inches off of the floor.  The spacers could be several bricks, short pieces of 2x4s, or several thick books.  The goals is for the animal to step up onto the board at one end and walk the length of the board without stepping off the board in the middle. 

The seesaw is fun piece of equipment that requires the animal to use their balancing abilities.  You can use a four to six-foot length of board and the half round piece of PVC or landscape pipe.  Put the pipe flat on the floor with the cut side down.  Let the board rest across the pipe near the board’s middle point.  One end of the board should rest on the floor with the other end in the air above the floor.  Have the dog step on the board at the end on the floor and walk along the board.  As they reach the middle, the board will move and require them to shift their balance as end of the board in the air moves toward the floor and they continue walking to the other end of the board.  The goal is for the dog to shift their balance as necessary so they can walk the entire length of the board without stepping off.

Weave “poles” can be made using three or more trash cans or small boxes that are spaced twelve to eighteen inches apart.  The goal is for the dog to pass through the spaces between each can or box in an “s” shaped pattern without knocking them out of place.

Indoor games with your pet can be lots of fun, provide mental stimulation, and some exercise for them too.  Try it and have some fun!

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