Choosing Dog Agility Obstacle Names

Dog Agility TunnelMost dog agility trainers and even obedience trainers agree that shaping a dog’s behavior requires on cue to start. You lure the dog into the correct performance until the dog gets the idea then fade the lure. Now is the time you can start adding a verbal cue word while the dog is performing the command so they link action to word. Though it is best to know beforehand what word you are going to use.

In dog agility we have many different obstacles even within the same grouping. For instance, there are bar jumps, broad jumps, spread jumps and tire jumps. Some venues have pipe jumps, window jumps and flower jumps. Do you need a different command for every single obstacle on course? Yes and no. Some obstacles that share the same classification are executed differently and should be given their own cue to help your dog set up correctly for the obstacle.

You will also run into traps where obstacle discrimination is crucial, especially if you have a tunnel suck or dog walk lover. Another reason to hold off on your verbals is to avoid your dog associating the word with an unpleasant obstacle. Not all dogs love the tunnel from the start. You will want to get a shy dog’s performance first then when they have confidence with the obstacle you can add a verbal.

Here is where consistency is a must. You must use the same word from start to end to avoid confusion and hesitation fro you dog in their performance. We suggest you print this list and highlight your choice of call words. Don’t get so fancy or creative that you cannot remember them or say them quick enough when you go to run a course. Instead, pick ones that come natural to you, are easy to say and don’t sound similar to other cues or your dog’s name. We put together a list to help you get started in picking names.

  • Bar Jump: Jump, Over, Up, Hup, get up
  • Tire Jump: Tire, Hoop, Ring, Through
  • Other Jumps: Usually same as for the regular jumps
  • Weave Poles: Weave, Poles, snake, wiggle, zip-zag, in-out
  • Tunnel: Tunnel, Through, Zoom
  • Closed Tunnel: Chute, Tunnel, Zoom, push, through, gogogo
  • Pause Table: Table, Up, box, get on, load-up, place, rest
  • Teeter Totter: Teeter, See-saw, Tip-it
  • Dog Walk: Walk it, Plank, Dogwalk, walk on, climb
  • A-frame: Scramble, Climb, Mountain, charge, Frame, Wall, chute..
  • Contact Zones: Wait, Easy, Get it, bottom, spot, touch

We suggest different words for the open and closed tunnel based on the fact the two obstacles are handled differently by your dog the same way contacts are run differently. It will help your dog know he is to run straight through the chute which is important to avoid entanglement. Though some chose to use the same word, it is up to you what works best for your team.