How to make your own Agility jump (if you’re super poor and inept like me)!

So, Mufaasa and me are at the point where I need real equipment. Our flower pot weaves and jumping standards consisting of old Star Wars books have been fun, but I want something a little better, and (most importantly), a little more transportable. So, excusing the blurry picture up top (so getting a new camera once my taxes are in) that’s the basic finished product. I adapted it from plans I found online but I’m going to re-hash what I did here with all the tips I can think of along the way. I’ve also made some 2×2 weave polls, but I need to tweak some things on them before I put up any plans. The plans below are great because you don’t have to be particularly good at DIY projects to do them, and you can build two jumps for about $30 or less, where as you would be paying about $60 or more to buy a similar jump that someone else made for you.

Declaimer: I am not a professional builder in any way. You will be using power tools and sharp instruments to make this, so do so at your own risk. I managed to do it without injuring myself (aside from being a bit sore from all the sawing) but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. You should take any safety precautions you can since, well, pain sucks and it’s not acceptable to loose a finger to make agility equipment for your dog.

Stuff you will need:

  • PVC pipe (30-40 feet)
  • Five way pvc branch (looks like this). You will need four for two jumps.
  • Slip-t pvc connectors (looks like this). You will need eight for two jumps.
  • Pins for your jump cups (must be wider than your pvc pipe and the slip-t connectors, but thin enough that you can fit them through a drill hole)
  • End caps (optional but recommended as a safety feature)
  • Something to cut the pvc with (you can get pipe cutters, or do what I did and use a hack saw)
  • A marker
  • Measuring tape
  • A drill
  • A file

 

The first thing you’ll need is some pvc pipe. You can get that at any old hardware store. A lot of people recommend you get what’s called “furniture-grade pvc” because it’s more durable, but I’m not building something that my dog is going to be jumping on, I’m building something he should be jumping over. And frankly, if your dog is crashing into your fence enough that you need it to be that durable, maybe you need to rethink your training methods!

I got regular old electrical grade pvc (the gray stuff). It’s a bit cheaper and works just fine. I made my jump with 1″ pipe, though if you have a smaller dog you could get away with 3/4 or 1/2. I started with 30 feet. The measurements I figured out meant that I had no pipe left over, and somehow I managed to not make any horrendous mistakes in the cutting process, so I lucked out there. If you only want one jump, 30 feet is fine, but for two you’ll need 40 feet.

You’ll need to cut the pipe into the following dimensions (again, this is for two jumps):

  • Four lengths of 30″ for your jumping standards
  • Sixteen lengths of 9″ for the base of your jumping standards
  • Remainder will serve as your rails. Cut them into 4 equal lengths. (You can make them shorter than I did, but when your starting out it should be noted that a wider jump might help keep your dog from taking the easy route and running out.)

 

When your cutting the pipe, make sure you’re on a surface you can sweep easily as there will be a lot of mess. If you can, go outside since there will be a lot of plastic dust generated during the sawing process, or at least open a window. Also, always double check your measurements! Nothing worse than hacking your way through a piece of stubborn plastic pipe, breathing god knows what and find out you cut it wrong. One thing you will notice is that the electrical pipe comes with a bulgy bit on one end (see picture on the right). Don’t worry about it, just make sure you save that bit for the top of your jumping standard. You don’t want it on the base since it’ll make the feet lopsided, and you don’t want it for the rail since it might not fit in the jump cups.

The next step is to attach the jumping standard to the five-way branch. You can glue it with pvc glue if you like, but it should fit snugly enough that you don’t need to (which will make life easier if you want to transport your jump to the park or something). If you’re in Canada and you don’t live in a major (read: the T-Dot) city, have fun finding your connectors. The only place in Halifax I found that sells them is Lee Valley, and getting them online can get expensive. You can jury-rig this design with a three way branch, but you’ll end up using more pipe. Once the branch is attached, mark your poll where you’ll want to drill your holes for your jump cups. If you can find a place that sells saddle clips, you won’t have to drill holes at all, but I wasn’t able to find one here (and I’m not convinced the saddle clip could handle my dog whacking the rail anyway). It’s important that you measure the pipe for jump heights after connecting the 5-way branch, since it’ll lift the pipe off the ground by about 1-2″. I marked every two inches up the pipe up to 26″, since that’s the highest Mufaasa will be expected to jump. You’ll have to check the guidelines of whatever organization you’ll be competing under to see what your dog will be expected to do.

The next step will be drilling the holes for your jump cups. The pipe is round and smooth, so the drill is going to slip if you just try and drill it straight up. Take a nail and tap the spot you want to drill a few times to mark it, which will create an indent that the drill bit will rest in so it won’t slip. It’ll also give you a chance to make sure your drill holes will run straight down the pipe before you put a hole there.

Don’t worry about the holes being too big. Just make them large enough that you can fit your pins through (you could use something like a pencil for your pins if you want to), but not so wide that you risk damaging the pipe. Drill straight through the pipe so that there’s a hole on both sides, but also make sure you’ve drilled in the opposite direction, as this will make it easier to get the pin through and save you some filing later.

Next comes the jump cups, and probably the part of this process the most likely to result in injury. You want to cut the top 2/3 of the slip-t connector with the closed end (the open-ended bit is the part that will slide down the jumping standard). Having a clamp and a hard surface would be super great for this step, but I don’t have a clamp so I just took my time with the saw. Seriously, be careful. I don’t want to hear about anyone loosing fingers doing this. Just say no to loosing fingers. You want to take more than half the pipe away as this will make it easier for the jump rail to roll out of the cup if your dog hits it. It is safer for your dog and easier on your equipment if the rail rolls out as opposed to potentially taking the whole jump with him. If the whole jump comes down there’s more stuff for him to trip on and potentially hurt himself, or just the racket of it could freak him out and make him not want to jump anymore.

After that you need to drill the holes for the pin. The slip-t’s that I had had a seam running down the centre of the open end of the pipe, which made it easier to find where to drill. Mark the spot with the hammer and nail and then drill. I didn’t drill through in this case as I figure I’d go through my floor, so you might want to mark it with a piece of tape to make sure you stay level and than drill from each side.

The last step is to file around all the holes you’ve drilled, and you should also file the end of any pipe your dog could come in contact with. You also need to file inside the slip-ts because if you don’t it won’t slide down on the jump standard. It’s pretty easy to file, but you will get shavings everywhere so do this somewhere that’s easy to sweep up.

Now all you have to do is connect the feet for your standard, slip your jump cups on and put the pins in at your desired height.

Ta da! Your very own portable jump (or two). You’ll want to take coloured tape and put some stripes on the jump rail as this will make it easier for your dog to see, but beyond that this is the finished product. If anyone uses these plans I’d love to see it, maybe link to some photos in the comments so we can all see what you did (and maybe hear any tips for making this easier/cooler).

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