Agility Equipment for Operation Second Chance

by Melinda Allen
(Lawrenceville, GA )

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We are a county jail operating a dog rescue program whereby we save dogs from the local shelters and take them into our facility to let the inmates train the dogs. The program is run by volunteers from the community and we have adopted out 30 dogs since the inception of our program in February. We are in need of some additional agility equipment and we are searching for the best prices we can find.

We need the following:

A Frame 8 Foot (fiberglass)
15' with 6" pitch tunnel
set of 12 weave poles
adjustable Table with fiberglass top

Can you assist us with pricing? Thanks!

Captain Allen


Hello Captain Allen, what an admirable program and great logo! The only website we are familiar with regarding lower cost agility equipment is Affordable However, we think you could do much better having the inmates make most of these items themselves:

(A bonus is that, like working with dogs, working with your hands and brain builds self-esteem and skills - and this is enhanced every time a person sees the item they have helped create...)


Instead of buying a fiberglass A-frame, consider having inmates make one out of plywood covered with marine varnish. They can create a non-skid paint surface by either adding sand to paint or by adding a rubberized surface (old car mats from a salvage yard for instance) as well as grip strips across the width. This should not cost more than $100 to make if you buy everything new, including hinges, and use 4 foot by 8-foot sheets of 3/4 inch plywood, i.e. no sawing required.

In contrast, the competition A-frame (9 by 3 feet for each panel) offered by "Affordable" Agility is aluminum and costs $950! Their smaller version (about 4 x 3 feet per panel) costs $465...

Weave Poles

A quick check on weave poles from Affordable Agility shows a basic set of 6 poles, made up of PVC with a spike in the bottom that screws into the ground, for $38.

You ought to be able to do that cheaper buying PVC from Home Depot ($2.47 for 10 feet of Schedule 40 1-inch pipe, meaning you could get three 40-inch poles out of each length, or spend about $11 after tax for 12 lengths), colored tape,
and having the inmates figure out how to make something that will help the poles stick into the ground - perhaps whittled wooden pegs from dowels or old broomstick handles that are glued into the bottom? You can also buy weave pole spikes stakes off of eBay for about $18 for a set of 12, including shipping. Just be sure the diameter matches the diameter of your PVC pipe! (Some people measure by inside diameter; others by outside diameter). Total cost for 12 poles ought to be no more than $30 vs. $76 ready-made.

Pause Table

There are two of these from Affordable Agility with a 35 x 35 inch top and legs that can be adjusted for different heights, one priced at $180 and the other at $150. They use plywood for the top (edges are rounded), covered with paint mixed with sand to make it non-skid, and different lengths of PVC pipe for the legs. At least 1-inch diameter schedule 40 pipe is recommended or ask for furniture grade.

Again, this would be much, much cheaper for the inmates to build themselves. It's less than half a sheet of plywood (Home Depot will cut things to size if you ask), edges can be rounded with coarse and finer sandpapers, and you can buy inexpensive holders for the PVC pipe to slot into to create removable legs, as well as elbows or T's for corners. (Print out photos of each from Affordable Agility and it will be easy to reproduce either of these pause tables.)


A 15-foot tunnel with 6-inch spacing between the coils (pitch) runs $205 from Affordable Agility, with shipping costs between $33 and $56. They also recommend adding PVC braces on each end, for $33 per brace, or saddlebags at $57 each, so you are looking at least another $100 above the cost of the tunnel.

We think your best bet on that may be to look on eBay and add your own inexpensive bracing. They seem to have a number of deals for around $40 with shipping up to $25. However, you may need to contact sellers about the pitch.

Hope this helps!

P.S. If anyone has any equipment for sale that is cheaper than this, please contact Captain Allen at *melinda.allen** (remove asterisks - added to foil spammers).


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Exercise platform for dogs

by Mike

A kennel near Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, had what I call an exercise platform for dogs. it was the best!

It had two ramps -- one for entrance and the other for exit -- and both ramps led up to a platform that was about 3 feet by 3 feet and about 3 feet high. The dogs would run up and down the ramp to and from the platform all day long!

do you have someone who could build one and explain the step by step?

Thanks either way --
Mike in California -
mn*merrick*@g* (* added to foil spammers)


Hello Mike, this sounds like project with a fun result!

Here is our design for a sturdy dog exercise platform with ramps out of plywood and lumber. Note that we have not built this but we feel it ought to work based on past experience.

Be sure to read through all the instructions first, and please contact us if you need further clarification or would like to tell us how it worked for you.

You would first want to build the platform, then add the ramps on either side:

Materials needed:
2 ½ sheets of plywood, at least 3/8 inch thick
24 feet of 2x2 lumber
12 feet of 1x4 lumber
12 feet of 2x4 lumber
four hooks (optional)
42 feet of lathe (optional)
marine varnish (optional)
non-skid paint (optional) – you can add sand to paint
a good supply of drywall or wood screws that are at least ½ inch longer than the thickness of wood they need to get through.

Cutting the materials for the platform:
1. Cut out a plywood top that is 3 ft in width x 3 ft 2 inches in length.
2. Cut four legs of 2x2 lumber each 36 inches long.
3. Cut four 1x 4 braces each 34 inches long.

Cutting the materials for the ramps:
1. Two 3 ft x 8 ft lengths of 3/8 inch (or thicker) plywood.
2. Four 1 ft x 3 ft pieces of plywood
3. Four 2 x 2 ramp support legs, 36 inches high.
4. Four 2 x 4 ramp braces, 36 inches long
5. Fourteen pieces of lathe, each 36 inches long.

The platform – instructions:
1. Attach the braces at the top of each leg. For the way to attach them, see the photo at the top of the homemade dog ramp page.
2. Center the platform over the frame. You should have 2 inches sticking out on either end, lengthwise, and 1 inch each, widthwise. Tag it with thin nails, then screw it in place when satisfied.

The ramps – instructions for one side:
1. Take an end of one of the 8 ft ramps. Have a helper hold the end against the 2-inch overlapping section of the platform so the pieces touch.
2. Stand one of the 1 x 3 ft pieces of plywood alongside the ramp and the platform frame, with the first 2 inches under the overlapping section of the platform.
3. Mark the slope of the ramp along the plywood. Check it a couple of times to make sure this is the slope you want.
4. Take a second 1 x 3 ft piece of plywood and clamp it to the underside of the first piece so the marked line remains visible. Cut along the diagonal line – remember, the first two inches should be straight – this part will fit under the platform.
5. Attach a 2 x 2 support leg to each of these two pieces of plywood (the edges that have the 2-inch straight section at the top). Make sure that each leg faces the other on the inside so the plywood faces out.
6. Now attach the above ensemble to the support legs for the platform, placing screws in a zigzag pattern. (If you want to be able to take the ramps apart, you could use hooks instead).
7. Take the ramp and attach a 2x4 support piece to the underneath side about six inches down from the end. Be sure this support piece is square to the plywood.
8. Have a helper hold the ramp up again and place it snug against the platform in between the two plywood supports. Attach the 2x4 under the ramp to the plywood supports with a triangle of screws.
9. Take the remaining 1 x 1 ft sections of plywood and create supports toward the bottom end of the ramp.

10. Sand the edges of the 8 ft lengths of plywood so that they are not sharp.
11. Add a piece of lumber underneath the bottom end of the ramp so it sits up off the ground a bit.
12. Coat the wood with marine or spar varnish to protect it from the weather.
13. Add indoor-outdoor carpeting with lathe placed at one-foot intervals over it or paint the surface with a non-skid type of paint. You can staple on rubber matting or rubber-backed carpeting with the rubber side up.

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How do I build a dog treadmill?

by Anonymous


I would like to build a dog treadmill. How would I do that?


Thank you for your question. Please look at our page Build a Dog Treadmill for further information.

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Dog Exercise wheel

by Lisa
(Clarksville, TN)

Hi I am looking for instructions on how to make your own dog exercise wheel, especially for medium to large size dogs.

Or do you think that dog treadmills are better?

Hi Lisa,
I think it depends on how much time and money you want to put into the project, how much skill you have, how big your dog is, and how much room you have.

If you have a large dog I would incline towards the treadmill since it will take up less room, and you can buy and adapt a human treadmill for between $85 and $150. This will likely cost you the least in terms of both time and money.

For a smaller dog, a dog exercise wheel can be about the size of a treadmill. One sled dog family mentioned that they use a wheel with their puppies. It would seem that a dog could regulate their speed better on a wheel, but we haven't personally had experience with a dog using one, and you can only glean so much from U-tube videos!

At this time we don't know anyone with plans but look on our Dog Exercise Options page under Dog Exercise Wheels for a YouTube video that shows a dog using one.

Please write and let us know how it turns out for you (and photos are always welcome too!)


Update 2011: We now have plans for a dog treadmill on our Build a Dog Treadmill page

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Treadmill weight limit

by Lindy


What should I do to make the treadmill plan more sturdy so dogs/people up to 250 pounds can use it?


Lindy, thank you for your question. Our recommendation would be to replace all the 1x3s with 2x3s, and replace the 2x3s with 2x4s.

One exception would be the Height Adjustment Support. You may wish to use 2x4s for the legs instead of 1x3s. You should be able to find a longer eye hook to go through the frame and the leg.

You will also most likely need to use the lubricant spray more often if a 250 lb person is using the treadmill.

Please test very carefully - we cannot guarantee the results since we have not built one like it ourselves. Realize that the beefier wood will make the treadmill heavier.

We would appreciate it if you let us know how this works out for you by adding a comment below so that we can share this with our site visitors.

Thanks! Jo

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How to build a dog/ cat treadwheel

by Sarah


How do you build a 40 inch round teacup dog and cat treadwheel?


Sarah, sorry for the delay in replying and thank you for your question about building a dog/cat treadwheel.

Although we have never built one of these ourselves, we were able to finally find a video of a dog exercise wheel on YouTube. Please go to our page on Dog Exercise Options to look at the video.

Another one was made by Frank Turner - there used to be a photo accessible on the web. It looks like he used a square of half or three-quarter inch plywood for the center, then used 1x3s or 2x3s for the spokes. As you can see, the axle is a metal rod that is strapped onto two wooden posts, one on either side of the wheel. Of course, the axle needs to be able to turn freely and this design looks like the axle might jump off the post. So it might be better to drill a half hole through the top to seat it, then strap it.

Another alternative would be to drill a hole through the posts and add some sort of clamps on either end so the rod cannot pull out of the holes. The trick there would be to get the holes/tops of the posts absolutely level in relation to each other so this should be done after you have centered the holes through the plywood squares. Make sure to set the posts high enough so that the wheel clears the ground!

The posts shown are probably set in concrete. You could also create a base out of 2x6 lumber and a sheet of plywood.

It is difficult to determine the material used for the frame of the wheel - the slats are most likely 1x3s but we are not sure what they are attached to. It could be plastic piping or metal. It would need to be something that is rigid enough to hold its shape but able to be bent into a circle. You will need to be able to drill holes into this to attach the wood slats by means of bolts.

It would be a good idea to drill your holes and then weatherproof the wood first before attaching it with polyurethane or marine spar varnish. We would also suggest adding a spot of glue to the nuts on your bolts to keep them in place.

Please let us know whether this information helped and feel free to show us a photo of what you have built.


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PVC Frame for Bicycle Exercise With Dogs

by Cindy Orr
(West Frankfort, Illinois)


Hi, I saw this on TV one time and have looked everywhere online for it. It was made of PVC pipes - hooked up to the bike frame - and a frame goes down over the dog, in an inverted u-shape, and hooks up to the dog's harness. The shape of the frame that goes over the dog keeps them from being able to stray from that position. The hook-ups connect to the sides of the dog's harness not the back or by the neck but right behind their front legs - kind of on their rib cage so they can use their chest for pulling not their necks. There is plenty of space between the dog's body and the PVC frame also.

I am kind of desperate for such a piece of equipment to use on my 2 rescue boxers. One,a white female that I named Sweet Caroline,was dumped out here in the country and it took 3 weeks to catch her. She has been fully vetted now and spayed and the vet says she might be 6 to 7 months old at the most! Crazy people. Caroline is over charged with energy now that she has gained 15 lbs and feels good. She now weighs about 50 lbs and is beautiful. Frankie, the red boxer was a rescue taken in after his owner died. He is super shy to the point of cowering in fear of anything new. So,Caroline with her extroverted personality is slowly bringing Frankie out of his scared shell of a dog.

They join my pack of a pug, beagle, catahoula, 2 pit bull-boston terrier sisters, a 110 lb black lab (also a dumped, mangey,worm infested mess of 3 years ago and now is a stunning example of the breed) and a German Shepherd I'm fostering until her owner can find a place to live. With summer coming on,I need some help with these 2 boxers to use up their energy before they eat my house to the ground. Thanks, Cindy Orr


Hello Cindy,

Yes, I have seen the frame you are talking about, only I do not think it is made of PVC but aluminum. The design was originally set up to be used with a scooter, but now the manufacturer puts them on trikes as well. The website is

If you cannot afford the $500 for a double frame, there are some alternative ways to exercise your boxers.

One is to make our simple B-Loop attachment which fits around the stem of a bicycle. I used this for years with our Shepherd mix, Comet, to get him back and forth to off leash areas. However, you would not be able to exercise both dogs simultaneously unless you had another bicyclist willing to help.

Another option may be to make a Whipwhir - although we haven't tried exercising two dogs this way at once, I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. Just be sure that the dogs are warmed up before they get into any jumping or twisting. Our high energy Shepherd mix, Comet, used to get a really good workout with this homemade dog exercise toy in about ten minutes. I used it both indoors and outdoors with him.

A third option is to build a spring pole - just make sure you let people know you are not training your dogs for dogfights!

And finally, you could also build a dog treadmill (which can do double duty for humans) for around $100. Simply check out our plans

Best of luck and bless you for rescuing so many dogs!

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