Okay, so you’ve decided you want to do some agility training with your dog. That’s great! You’ve seen some competitions, know you need some dog agility equipment, and decide to go to the pet store looking for some of the standard training items such as a tunnel. When you get there what you find is there are a lot of options to choose from but you really have no idea which one would suit you and Fido best. Not so great.
Well fortunately, here is some information that can help. This is the information you need to know how to select an agility tunnel.
Tunnels come in several different types. The basic selection for competition comes in 10 ft, 12 ft, 15 ft, and 20 ft lengths. They can be 4 inch pitch or 6 inch pitch. The Pitch refers to the amount of space between the metal that structures the tunnel inside. It can be heat sealed or sewed. Sewed is better for a hot climate like Az. The rip stop industrial strength fabric is very durable. The sun can actually make a heat sealed one fall apart after a while.
Various Agility venues have different requirements for the pitch. AKC, and USDAA, for instance requires 4 inch pitch. The pitch lends durability, stability, and weight to a tunnel. The heaviest weight may be required when hundreds of dogs are running through one, but for your own training needs at home to practice, a 6 inch pitch will usually work just fine. It really depends on your level of competition and the wishes of your trainer for you and your dog.
All sizes of tunnels are used on an agility course. You need longer ones to do a U or L shaped tunnel. You also may bend them underneath other pieces of contact equipment like an A frame or dog walk to teach the dog to discriminate between two obstacles. Most dogs find tunnels really tempting, so it is a distraction of sorts.
There are also collapsed tunnels or they are also referred to as Chutes. These are attached to a barrel and clamped on to form a flat or collapsed tunnel which is usually more challenging for the dog and it also takes longer to get through. You should never leave a chute unattended in your back yard as a dog can get tangled in one and there may be dire results of injury or worse. It is only to be used with handler supervision. Most dogs like these with practice.
If a person is in a puppy class or has a young dog and they want to do some back yard fun training, a practice tunnel made of light weight nylon type material is available for this type of activity. It is less expensive and easy to transport or store.
In order to stabilize your tunnel, you should ideally have tunnel weights or fasteners that look like straps on both ends and possibly the middle to keep it from moving or pitching when a fast dog runs through it. Milk jugs filled with sand and a rope or cord may have the same effect if you don’t want to immediately purchase tunnel bags, but that is what they are designed for-to keep your tunnel stable.
Tunnels can be a multitude of colors. You can mix and match and have fun making your course colorful.
Now a trip to the pet store to purchase dog agility training equipment won’t be so overwhelming since you know how to select an agility tunnel.