How to Build an A-Frame for Dog Agility

By Liz Fremont

sawing wood image by Aussiebloke from Fotolia.com

Items you will need

  • Exterior grade plywood 1/2-inch by 8-foot by 3-foot

  • 11 or 12 boards 1-inch by 4-inch by 8-foot

  • 4 boards 1-inch by 6-inch by 1-foot

  • 1-inch wood strips

  • 6 door hinges

  • ¼-inch steel rod

  • 2-inch wood screws

  • 1 ¼-inch wood screws

  • 1-inch wood screws

  • 4 hook bolts

  • Chain

  • Exterior paint

Canine agility courses are made up of several different obstacles, designed to test dogs on their athletic abilities and training. An A-frame obstacle can be made with basic woodworking tools and materials. It should be lightweight -- so it can be moved without difficulty -- but strong enough to support the weight of your dog. A practice A-frame can be smaller than the American Kennel Club (AKC) regulation size of 35 to 49 inches wide, and within 2 inches of 9 feet, for each panel.

Make two frames 3 feet wide by 8 feet long, with boards 1-inch thick by 4 inches wide, using 2-inch wood screws.

Cut the ends of the boards at a 45 degree angle, so the bottom ends will rest flat on the ground, and the top ends will meet when the A-frame is set up.

Place a board with the short edge down -- to form each side of the frame -- with a third board running up the middle.

Attach four of the same boards, cut to size, horizontally at intervals between the 8-foot vertical boards for stability. Do not put these boards at either end of the frames.

Attach a ½-inch by 3-foot by 8-foot sheet of exterior grade plywood to each of the frames with 2-inch wood screws.

Round two edges of wooden slats ½-inch thick by up to 1.5 inches wide and approximately 36 inches long. The rounded edges should be on the same side of the wide part of each slat.

Attach the slats -- rounded edges up -- to the top side of the plywood with 1-inch wood screws or wood glue to provide footing for your dog. The centers of the slats should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart -- and the ends should be within ¼ inch of the plywood’s edge. The bottom slat should be 42 to 46 inches from the bottom of each panel.

Paint all of the wood with non-glossy, exterior paint. The contact zones, which are the bottom 42 inches of each panel, should be painted a contrasting color from the rest of the obstacle. The AKC rules state that white, black and brown cannot be used, and that bright yellow is recommended.

Remove the pins from six door hinges. Insert a ¼-inch steel rod -- approximately 35 inches long -- through all six of the hinges.

Cut one of the long edges of four 1- by 6-inch boards -- that are two inches longer than three hinges laid side-by-side -- at a 45 degree angle.

Screw one end of a set of three hinges to one of the boards with 1-inch wood screws -- so just the hinged part sticks out from the board. The hinges should be attached to the face opposite the 45 degree angle cut -- so that the hinges and the angle cut are along the same edge.

Do the same with the other end of the hinges, and a second board. Repeat the process with the remaining hinges and boards.

Align the angled edge of each board to the front edge of the underside of the plywood, with one board near the outer edge of each panel. The hinges should be between the boards and the plywood. Screw through the top of the plywood into the boards with 1 1/4-inch wood screws, taking care to avoid the hinges. You should now be able to swing the panels open and shut with the aid of the hinges.

Screw a hook bolt into the bottom of the outside board of each panel -- approximately one third of the way down from the top of the panels. Attach a chain that will stabilize the frame when it’s set up. It should be stretched tight when the obstacle is fully extended.

Tips

  • Sand can be added to the paint for texture, to provide better footing on the top of the plywood.

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