My Puppy Obstacle Run
created June, 2020
A lot of my pups go for Search & Rescue, and I try to prepare them well to start training as soon as they leave. My Search & Rescue friend, Janet, sent me the following link and urged me to create an obstacle run for my litters: https://www.facebook.com/FormaUtilityDogs/videos/471621010157410/UzpfSTEzMDkzNDI5MDQ6MTAyMTcwOTA5MDkxNjc0MTg/),
The idea is to help the pups learn how to approach obstacles and consider how to safely and efficiently get past them, THINK about how to use their bodies and where their feet are rather than blunder over or through things. Many adult dogs don’t know where to safely place their feet in rough terrain, so learning these things now can keep the pups from getting hurt unnecessarily when they are working, whether that is searching for lost people, competing in agility, or anything else.
I felt, in that video Janet sent, that the pups were being set up to get hurt. Those Malinois pups were three to four months old, which is a time of RAPID growth. Whenever puppies are in growth spurts, their ligaments and tendons struggle to keep pace with the growth of their bones and are often stretched to the max. Mad scrambles like those pups are doing make me cringe and worry about shoulder injuries or ligament strains. I decided to start with that general idea but concentrate more on getting them to thoughtfully approach each obstacle rather than race each other.
The run has one leg (east-west) that is about 100’ long and uses the agility field fence for one side, then corners and has a second leg (north-south) that goes another 60’ or so along my eastern boundary fence.
On the first leg, which heads east, they go through a curtain of jugs and strips of sprinkler hose, over a leaf loader, over the dog walk, through coiled hoses. Boards channel the pups onto the dogwalk and A-frame while allowing humans to walk alongside the contact obstacles to help the pups if needed.
Next they go over the A-frame, and then through the tunnel and are at the corner.
The second leg of the obstacle run (which heads north) has as its first obstacle another “curtain.” It is a harder obstacle than the other curtains because it has trays from a long-gone chest freezer on each end, creating an exercise where the pups can “hang up” in the holes created by the trays, able to see the next part of the run. They have to figure out that they need turn towards the center, away from what they could see, and push through the milk jugs hanging in the middle.
Next is a pile of scattered boards, then another curtain of BIG jugs. Once through that, they have to go over an old beat-up plastic kiddie pool.
Next they navigate the rock pile. After that the pups will wade through a section of small bottles, pick their way through some old bee forms, jump over a length of pvc pipe hung about 3” above the ground, and finally push through a double curtain of big jugs.
Then they can reverse and go uphill, through the double curtain, over the pvc jump, through the bee forms, through the next curtain, over the woodpile and through the tough curtain.
They navigate the tunnel in the corner and turn west to go over the A-frame, though the hoses.
After going over the dogwalk and leaf loader and through the last curtain, they are done!
I’ll try to add photos of the pups actually running the Obstacle Run soon.