Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Cheap

In a lesson this week, we used a section of decorative fence, an end table and two bales of hay with a board for an impromptu agility course.  The decorative fence had slates, which, when laid on the ground were elevated slightly to create a walkway.  The end table because a "pause table" for positions.  The hay bales and board were a raised dog walk.

Not long ago, when I was teaching the foundation of the blind search I used a large plastic garbage can and a chair.  The moral of the story is that you don't need to pay ridiculous sums of money for specialized equipment in order to get good training done.  A couple pieces of PVC or stakes and plastic bags can create blinds and jumps.  An end table found on the curb can become a nice pause table.  You won't feel badly when you cut a few inches off the legs, either! 

 In USAR we love our "junk agility" and teaching the dogs to walk on unsteady surfaces.  This is good for  building confidence in any dog.  Got some old chain link, snow fence and some wood pallets?  Make certain you don't have sharp edges or places the dog can get stuck, and you have a nifty little environmental challenge course.  I think most everyone has a ladder at home.  Place the ladder on the ground, resting on a couple concrete blocks and you can teach your dog rear-end awareness which the cheapest cavaletti on earth. Fiber glass poles and hula hoops can create interesting weaves and guides.  And while we're at it-- if you want realistic tracking articles, visit your local Goodwill and pick up some small toys, old wallets, etc.

You can still drool over the catalogs, and bend the pages of the equipment you would love to have, but don't put off your training because you can't afford a thousand dollars worth of pretty plastic. Look in your garage, and do it on the cheap.