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How to... Make Garden Agility Obstacles

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Inexpensive and space saving equipment

Written and illustrated by Peter Lewis
Reviewed by Mick Chambers

Description: A simply explained construction guide, giving  advice on how to build inexpensive agility obstacles for the back garden. All items apart from the contact trainer are very simple but effective training aids.

Contents include:-

  • Introduction
  • Contact Trainer and Hoop
  • Hoop Component
  • 'A' Ramp Component
  • Dog Walk Component
  • See-Saw Component
  • Hurdles
  • Weaving Poles
  • Pipe Tunnel
  • Collapsible Tunnel
  • The Table
  • Long Jump
  • Measurements, Finishing and Painting

Best Features:
As Peter Lewis says in his Introduction, this book is aimed at those who can turn their hands to a bit of DIY around the home. Most of the items in the book are simple to make and are intended, as the title implies, to be used in the garden. Apart from the Contact/Tyre Combined Trainer, they are simple enough to put in the back of the car for a spot of training away from the garden as well.

The first section is devoted to the most complex piece of equipment, the Contact Trainer with tyre jump. This is the original design from which others have manufactured similar trainers.

The assembled equipment gives an 'A-frame' and Dogwalk trainer. Before assembly you have a see saw and tyre jump components. The tyre jump is designed so it can be built to fold flat for storage or to put in the back of your estate car or on the roof rack! Each part has its own section in this chapter.

Some simple but effective hurdles are next, made from thick broom handles which double up as weave poles or marker poles. I'm sure many of you use broom handles for weaves. These have 6" nails in the base to allow easy insertion into the ground. The bit I thought really clever was to use golf tees as cross bar supports. These are removable to alter jump heights or to use the poles for weaves/marker poles.

The use of these poles as weaves is next, and again Peter puts on his instructors hat. He gives some very good tips for beginners and those who need to go back to basics to correct weave problems.

How chapters on how to make your own pipe and collapsible tunnels to me were the most daunting. I can use a saw and a screwdriver but sewing canvas or other suitable tunnel material is beyond me.

It meant, however, I could cope with the next item - the table. Two versions are considered, metal frame or wood. I'll go for the latter.

The final item is the long jump and another ingenious method, similar to the hurdles, in construction methods.

The last chapter is reserved for painting techniques and an imperial/metric conversion guide.

Worst Features:
I must admit that I found none; it does exactly what it says on the cover!

Presentation, design & format:
The book is spiral bound card cover, with easy to read print on good quality paper. Plenty of black and white line drawings and diagrams.

Overall Rating: 9/10 - Peter drops the odd training tip into each section.

Price: £9.75 plus P&P. Available direct or through Agility Warehouse

Value for Money: Yes. All in all I thought this a useful little book, and although I have already built myself some hurdles I will be having a go at one or two other pieces, using this book as a guide.

Enquiries to: -
Canine Publications
21 Burridge Road, Burridge, Southampton SO31 1BY
Tel. 01489-885112

Also available from


About the Author
Peter Lewis has been training dogs for in excess of 40 years. During that time, he has trained many dogs for competition disciplines and taken them to the top of each sport. They are Obedience, Working Trials and Agility, and he is in demand to judge and teach all of these dog sports across the world.

He has been involved as an instructor and teacher of instructors for very many years and has also founded four dog clubs. Apart from club work, he has spent many years working professionally teaching pet dog owners how to have a well behaved dog. Such has been his success sin this field that over 50 different veterinary surgeons refer owners to him. He is also a member of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association.

Regarding agility, he has been acknowledged as having played a major part in establishing the sport in the UK and around the world.

Although most of his time has been spent hands-on with dogs and dog people, he has also found time to write and produce in excess of ten books and videos.

About The Reviewer
Mick Chambers has just finished his second season of agility, getting frustratingly close to winning out of starters having two seconds and two wins in Limited shows.

His best agility moment of 2001 was second place in the Agility Needs Starters Jumping Final at Stoneleigh in August, although third at the Rugby Christmas Show Pairs comes a close second!

When not doing agility, he coaches  his sonís Under 11 Rugby Team.

He is still working for BT - 30 years this year!

His family consists of 1 x wife (Lorraine) of 24 years, 1 x 11-year old son (Chris) and 1 x 3- year old working sheep dog (Bryn). He is hoping to make it two this year.


From Barbara Petty
I have students that live in apartments and have turned their couch into a dogwalk - a board across the middle and a board off each end!

From Gina Graham (aged 17)
I noticed you have an article up on building home agility equipment. If I who has never done anything like this before can build four flyball jumps and one long jump, anyone can do it. It was really easy to make and costs about a quarter of what it would do if you were to buy it from an agility equipment maker. Here is a piccie of the long jump along with my plans. (28/04/02)