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Dog Agility Course

Dog behaviorist Kathy Santo teaches two canine-loving kids how to set up and work an agility course for dogs.
The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

Is getting your kids to help with the dog ever a struggle -- especially when it comes to training? Dog behaviorist Kathy Santo has a great way to make ho-hum training exciting for both your children and your pet by creating an agility course.

Bar Jumps
Walk over the jump with your dog. Return to the start position. The next step is to do a sit-and-stay command; if your dog isn't steady on his stay command, someone can hold his collar. Walk over the jump, still holding the leash, and then call your dog over the jump. Return to start position, and have the dog go over the jump. The idea is that you can work up to leaving the dog on a sit-and-stay command off leash and calling him over the jumps, which teaches the sit, stay, and come commands at once.

Tunnel
Go to other end of the tunnel, and call your dog to come. If it doesn't come, hold its collar and stand close to the mouth of the tunnel. Move toward the tunnel, tell the dog to tunnel, and race it to the end. Run fast, because you'll be letting go of the leash.

Pause Table
The purpose of the pause table is to test the dog's ability to jump up on a table, quickly assume a sit or down position, and hold it until you tell it it's done. This is a great way to practice sit or down and wait commands. Hop up on the table with the dog and make it sit. When the dog is comfortable, it won't need you to jump up with it. Making a table is a quick project. You just need a PVC pipe and a piece of board. Mix sand into the paint for the top so the surface isn't slick. Or, if you have a kid's plastic picnic table, put some nonstick decals over the table part.

Resources
To make an agility course for your pets, you can purchase the PVC nonwing jump, the open tunnel, and the pause table at max200.com.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to dog behaviorist Kathy Santo for showing us how to put together this great agility course.