The world of dog sports has a long history of been championed by the sport of agility. Open to dogs of all breeds and sizes, agility offers a fantastic opportunity for training, exercise, and even a healthy dose of competition for both dog and handler alike. Comprised of several obstacles within a typical agility course, there are some that are instantly recognizable such as the jumps, weaves, and especially tunnels.
Of the two types of tunnels, both open and collapsed, the open tunnel presents less of a challenge, though it too can be a bit daunting for a dog new to the sport. The open tunnels may often be curved and a curved tunnel is scary when your dog can’t see the exit. But for any agility hopeful, the open tunnel is a necessity to learn and master in order to compete.
Consisting of about 10 to 20 feet of flexible, free-standing material and with an opening of about 24 inches in diameter, the open tunnel obstacle is generally one of the easier obstacles to learn. However, it can be challenging for a dog who is a little timid or fearful and can also present some difficulty to larger dogs in general. With enough practice and cooperation with your dog, he can overcome these challenges and be diving through the tunnel and out the other end in no time. After your dog learns the tunnel, you might actually discover that he enjoys it!
Open tunnel training is recommended for dogs four months of age and up, unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian. It’s always important to get a full health check before starting any kind of physical training, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, as long as your dog can reasonably fit through the tunnel without struggling, he can start training any time.
To start, you’ll either need to purchase a tunnel specifically for agility, or you can create one yourself out of cardboard or foam. Ensure that any tunnel you make or purchase is collapsable lengthwise and is rigid when sitting upright so it doesn’t cave in while your dog is running through it. Make sure you have enough space for your dog to reasonably run into and out of the tunnel without running into anything.
You’ll also need some treats or a toy to entice your dog through the tunnel. Try to choose something he really values and you’ll have a much easier time getting him to pursue it. Put aside some time for training every day, and your dog will easily pick up the tunnel in as little as a week!