Puppy Obstacle Run

My Puppy Obstacle Run
created June, 2020

Illustrated with photos of the first time puppies ran it – the SS litter, 49 days old. 
Pat helped them navigate it in the morning, while Claudia and Linda (who helped me build it) helped the puppies that evening. 
The best photos from each session were used to illustrate each obstacle.
Succeeding litters will be introduced to the Puppy Obstacle Run earlier, probably in the 5th week.

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.

Learn How We Built It

Unless otherwise noted, there is one photo for each set of pups listed.  I generally name the photos containing multiple photos by listing the pups from left to right, front to back.

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 100’ along my eastern boundary fence. 

1st Leg:  Going East

At the start they go through a curtain of jugs and strips of sprinkler hose, and over a leaf loader.

Miss White (2 photos)
Miss Green, Miss Yellow & Mr. Blue

Mr. Blue, Miss Purple & Miss Green
All but Miss Pink

Then they go over the dog walk. Boards (and ex-pen panels where necessary) channel the pups onto the dogwalk and A-frame while allowing humans to walk alongside the contact obstacles to help the pups if needed.   

Miss White & Miss Yellow
Mr. Blue
Miss Purple (2 photos)
Miss Pink & Miss White
Whole group

Next they walk through coiled hoses. 

Miss Green, Miss Yellow, Mr. Blue & Miss White
Miss Purple (3 photos)
Miss Yellow, Miss Purple & Miss White

Next they go over the A-frame

Miss Purple, Miss Yellow & Miss White
Mr. Blue & Miss Purple
Miss Yellow & Miss Pink
Mr. Blue
Miss Green

and through the tunnel, and are at the corner.  

2nd leg:  going north

The elderly tunnel kept collapsing under tunnel bags, so I eventually wired both ends to the fence.  Miss Purple and Miss Yellow are shown “helping” the tunnel end collapse.

The next obstacle is 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.  

Mr. Blue & Miss White (3 photos)
Miss Yellow
Miss Yellow & Miss White (3 photos)

Next is a pile of scattered boards.

Miss Yellow
Miss White (2 photos)

then another curtain of really BIG jugs. 

Mr. Blue (all 3 photos)

Once through that, they have to go over an old beat-up plastic kiddie pool.  The puppies loved the little bit of water the pool had collected from an overnight rain.

Whole group
Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss White & Miss Yellow
Miss Yellow, Miss Green, Miss Pink & Miss Purple

Next they navigate the rock pile.  

Miss Yellow
Miss Purple (3 photos)

After that the pups will wade through a section of bottles.  In these photos, we also had football toys there, but the pups got so distracted playing with them that we removed them and added more bottles before they ran it a second time.  

Mr. Blue (8 photos)
Miss Green, Miss Pink & Miss Yellow (2 photos)
Miss Pink & Miss Yellow
Miss Purple & Miss Pink (2)

They pick their way (or jump) through some old bee forms

White, Yellow, Purple & Mr. Blue ((2 photos)
Miss Yellow, Miss White, Miss Purple & Miss Pink (3 photos)
Miss Yellow, Miss White & Miss Purple
Mr. Blue, Miss Green & Miss Pink
Miss Green & Mr. Blue
Mr. Blue (2 photos)

jump over a length of pvc pipe hung about 3” above the ground,

Miss White & Miss Yellow (2 photos)

and finally push through a double curtain of big jugs. 

Miss Pink (2 photos)
Miss Purple
Miss Green, Mr. Blue & Miss Yellow (2 photos)

Then they reverse and go back.