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Agility: Open Tunnel

Tunnel

This is one of the items that really makes it "agility" and fun for dogs with physical limitations. Plastic tunnels are easiest to find, lots of toy stores carry them occasionally. Harder to find, but worth the effort, are these nylon tunnels - 9 feet long and 22 inches in diameter. They cost about 70 dollars (U.S. - 1996). They fold down and store as almost a hoop 22 inches in diameter, but less than 2 inches wide. Shorter (3 to 6 foot) fabric tunnels are often found in local toy stores. Usually they are only 18 inches in diameter, not a problem for small dogs.

You will need some way to keep the tunnel from rolling when the dog runs through. The picture shows step in fence posts holding the tunnel in place. That's easy but not the best way. The best way for safety is to get some wide strong fabric, something similar to what is used in lawn chairs. Cut a piece about 60 inches long. Put a large grommet on each end. Then drape the fabric strip over the tunnel and use a large garden nail or stake to hold it to the ground.

There is a significant down side to the cheaper tunnels. They teach your dog to go slow. When a tunnel is curved (which is part of the fun) a dog will bank off the inside wall of the tunnel instead of staying on the "floor". Except that the lightweight fabric will not support a dog's weight. So the dog has to slow down to negotiate the turn. A lot of dogs really enjoy going fast and prefer not to be forced to slow down. And if you decide you want to compete you don't want to have taught your dog to slow down through a tunnel. It is really hard to change the habit once formed. I recommend buying as sturdy a tunnel as you can afford - something in the $150 range. If that isn't in the cards right away you can still have fun without developing bad habits - just don't curve the tunnel.

For more information and resources on both competition and practice grade equipment you can buy ready made, or sources for designs you can build see my agility equipment links page.

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Copyright © 1996-2003, Diane Blackman     Created: September 13, 1996     Updated: November 26, 2007    

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