Agility training is great fun for dogs and owners alike. As more and more canine lovers flood towards this burgeoning hobby, it might be time to give it a go! Agility training provides your pooch with both physical exercise and mental stimulation, as well as giving the pair of you some quality time which you can both enjoy.
Agility training once seemed to be the preserve of Crufts contestants, but now you and your four-legged best friend can train at home, thanks to the affordable equipment making its way to market. One of the most popular agility items for at-home training is the dog tunnel. As its name suggests, this is a small, flexible tunnel that you can train your dog to run through. They’re often a key component of agility courses, and a great place to start for would-be agility trainers. With so many agility tunnels out there to choose from, though, making the right decision for both you and your pet can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best options available online right now. We’ve also answered some common questions about tunnels and agility, so you can find out everything you need to get into this exciting hobby!
Best Dog Agility Tunnel Buying Guide & FAQ
And there you have it – what we believe to be the best agility tunnels on the market right now. We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of your options and encouraged you and your pup to give this fun activity a try.
Purchasing dog agility equipment is just the first step, however! We’ve also answered some common questions people have about dog agility and scouted out some tips and tricks to get you started. We hope this guide can be your ticket into agility training – good luck!
Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Agility Tunnel
As this list makes clear, there are a lot of options available when it comes to buying an agility tunnel! Which tunnel you decide to purchase will depend very much on your individual needs – below are some of the most important factors to consider.
Many agility tunnels are designed in accordance with regulations from the AKC (American Kennel Club), which essentially means they’re competition grade. These tunnels are typically 18 feet in length, with a diameter of 24 inches. Training your pooch with one of these tunnels means they’re used to the size and shape when it comes to competing, but smaller dogs and puppies might find this a little large. There’s no need to write off agility training just because your dog is small, though – you might consider purchasing a tunnel of a smaller size, such as number 10 on our list.
Most of the tunnels on our list are made from a polymer fabric called Dacron. Dacron is durable and versatile, so these tunnels can usually resist the wear and tear of dogs hurtling through them (or into them) time after time. Dacron tunnels are usually budget-friendly and light-weight, but they shouldn’t be left outside for extended stretches of time. Tunnels made from PVC are better suited to this function. They’re weightier, saving you the need to pin them down with stakes or sandbags, and totally waterproof. These tunnels tend to be more expensive, but are certainly a sound investment for more experienced trainers. Because they’re less portable than their Dacron counterparts, PVC tunnels are also better-suited to having a permanent position.
If you’re new to dog agility, splashing out on the priciest tunnel available is probably not the best option! Good quality tunnels can be found on any budget, but those at the more economical end of the spectrum may not last quite so long, and shouldn’t be left to the elements much.
Benefits of Using Dog Agility Tunnels
Agility training, in general, is hugely beneficial to dogs and owners alike, and tunnels are a great starting point for a number of reasons:
- Getting your dog to negotiate their way through a tunnel is one of the simplest agility tasks to teach
- Tunnels allow for gradual training – you can scrunch up your tunnel at first, and gradually add length as your dog becomes more confident
- With proper training, most dogs love running through tunnels, providing an encouraging spring-board for further training
- Having your pet safely navigate the tunnel builds trust between owner and pet
- Learning new skills is great mental stimulation for both you and your dog
- Running through tunnels is a great exercise for your dog
- Dogs who are well exercised – both mentally and physically – are usually better behaved
- Getting into agility training, in general, is a great way to socialise with like-minded owners
- Since agility trainers often run around with their dogs, it’s a great way to get fit alongside your four-legged friend
Dog Agility Training Tips
Beginning agility training with your dog might seem like an enormous tax, but with small steps and plenty of encouragement, anyone can give this exciting hobby a go. Below are a few tips for starting out.
- Be Prepared
Before embarking (pun intended) on your agility training adventure, it’s important that your dog can understand a few basic commands. There are:
- Lie down
These skills are an important stepping stone towards engaging with more complex tasks. Plenty of training advice can be had online, but you might also consider taking your pooch to obedience classes for some support.
- Train in Small Steps
Dog agility can be impressive, so wanting to race ahead with training is only natural. However, taking your time ensures that your dog learns commands more thoroughly, and allows you to better build a relationship of trust. Break tasks which might be daunting for your dog down into simpler steps for best results and minimal stress.
You can train your dog to traverse other agility obstacles using similar methods – the key is to build up gradually. Other common agility obstacles include:
- Weave poles – a line of poles which dogs must weave in and out of
- Dog Walk – A raised, narrow platform which dogs must walk across
- Standard Jumps – Dogs must jump over raised poles
- Tire Jumps – Dogs must jump through a circular opening
- Pause Table – Dogs must hop onto the table and ‘stay’ for five seconds
- Teeter Board – A device resembling a seesaw, which dogs must carefully move across
You can purchase all of this pet agility equipment if you choose, but some obstacles can be replaced with household items – at least initially. For instance, PVC pipes and broom handles made excellent weaving poles or jumps! Eventually, you might want to purchase a dog agility set, so you have a wide variety of obstacles to train with, keeping things interesting for both you and your dog.
- Get Support
Starting any new hobby can seem daunting, but luckily there are plenty of beginners’ agility classes, where you and your dog can learn alongside others from a professional. If your budget doesn’t stretch to classes, why not team up with another doggie friend? Learning together is usually more effective, and makes the hobby even more enjoyable!
Best Dog Agility Tunnels FAQ:
Q: What age should I start agility training?
A: Dogs can’t officially enter agility competitions until they are 18 months old, and training isn’t recommended until they are 12 months old. Agility training can be too intense for young puppies, but, at the right age, short bouts of encouraging and patient training are fine. You can even buy puppy agility equipment specifically designed for younger dogs.
Q: How can I train my dog to use a tunnel?
A: Like any successful dog training, agility tasks should be broken down into smaller steps, and you should encourage and reward your dog at every stage. Below is a basic outline of how to get started with teaching your dog to run through an agility tunnel:
- First, simply introduce your dog to the tunnel – allow them to explore it and see that it’s safe to interact with.
- The first time your dog walks through the tunnel, it should be made short, and your pet should be able to see you waiting for them at the other end.
- Call your dog, tapping the bottom of the tunnel to let them know it’s safe to come through.
- Reward your dog with a treat when they have come through – for nervous dogs, building the confidence to walk through the tunnel may take some time, so patience is key.
- Gradually make the tunnel longer as your dog becomes accustomed to it.
- When your dog is used to running through the full length of the tunnel, you can begin to lay it shapes other than a straight line – this requires more trust, as your dog won’t be able to see the end when they enter.
- Closed tunnels should only be tried at this stage – when your dog is comfortable enough to walk through an open tunnel without nervousness.
Remember to frequently encourage your dog, and give them treats for completing tasks regularly.
Q: How do you get your dog into agility?
A: Almost any dog can enjoy agility – it gives a great opportunity to exercise both their mind and body, and also provides ample opportunity for bonding with owners. Whatever you and your dog’s fitness level, there’s bound to be some agility you can engage in. You could start with a beginner’s class, or look for advice online – we’ve tracked down some excellent blogs on the topic which can be found below.
Before starting with agility, though, do try to cement the basic commands of ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘lie down’ and ‘come’ in your dog’s vocabulary. Training is far easier from a solid foundation.
Q: Is dog agility a sport?
A: Dog agility is classed as a ‘dog sport’, placing it in the same category as sled dog racing and sheepdog trials. Unlike many other dog sports, though, agility places owners at the heart of the action, and requires them to be almost as involved as the dogs themselves! Whilst people of all fitness levels can participate in agility, the practice encourages better fitness for you as well as your dog. In this sense, dog agility is a sport for owners just as walking or jogging is.
Our Top Pick
Above are what we believe to be the best dog agility tunnels available right now, and best in the show is HDP’s. Their tunnel conforms to ACK competition standards, making it perfect for competitive training, yet its affordable price means that it’s suitable for complete beginners too.
Its durable fabric holds up well to whatever dogs can throw at it, and it’s versatile enough to be used both in and out-of-doors. The tunnel also comes with its own stakes – carefully crafted so as not to harm your dog – as well as a convenient carrying bag. This easy-to-use option makes a great addition to any dog’s playground!