Dog Agility Exercises: How to Teach Your Dog at Home

Dog agility training exercises at home are a great way to have fun with your dog and get in some exercise for yourself.

Here’s what you’ll need to start agility training with your dogs :

  • A small space safe enough for dogs, such as a backyard, patio or lawn area.
  • Treats or toys
  • Dog harness and leash if needed (for example, when doing jump exercises)
  • Treat bag or container of treats/toys in case they’re needed during the training session.

What is Agility Training?

Meaning “quickness and ease combined” in French, agility training focuses on developing balance and your dog’s coordination from one movement to another.

Your dog will learn to run different courses filled with obstacles such as hurdles, jumps, tunnels and weave poles. Ideal for any breed of dog, the ones that excel at agility include:

  • Border Collies
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Papillons
  • Springer Spaniels

The following seven dog agility training exercises are good ones to start with because most dogs will get the hang of them easily; Dog owners can practice these easily as they require little equipment, no dog agility clubs and few instructions: We have a full beginners guide to dog agility training here.

7 of The Best Dog Agility Exercises To Start Today

1. The tunnel

This agility obstacle you can make at home simply uses an open-ended cardboard box or a pop-up laundry basket with the bottom removed. One way to train your dog to be comfortable with this is to have someone wait at the other end with a treat.

Puppies may find this obstacle tricky at first, but with some encouragement, they will soon get the hang of it. See what we thought were ideal dog tunnels for agility, as we have a list of them on this page.

2. Dog push-ups

The dog push-up is a basic command you can practice at the local park that teaches a dog to lie down and then stand up.

It is done by holding your hand low, at your dog’s shoulders level. Your other hand should be above your dog’s head as if you’re going to give him a high five, but it will serve as a platform for the dog to use as leverage.

Start the exercise with your dog in a standing position. Tell your dog “dog push-up” and gently put pressure on his shoulders so he’ll lie down.

Once he’s lying down, withdraw your hand from his shoulder so he’ll return to standing. Give him praise and reward him with a treat or other reward for the effort.

3. Sit to stand 

This dog agility training exercise combines three skills: Set the jumps and place your dog between two of them so they have a clear path from one side to the other.

The first command, “sit”, should be followed by “stand” as soon as the dog’s bottom touches the ground. This signals to the dogs that they must jump as soon as both feet are on the ground.

Once they do, reward them with a treat. For the next few reps, help with timing by calling “sit” and “stand” in quick succession.

Once the dog is reliably overcoming the hurdles on command with no assistance from you, only say ‘stand’ for a split second before you say ‘jump’, followed immediately by ‘good’. If your dog doesn’t jump straight away, give them another moment or two before releasing them with positive reinforcement.

Practice this agility training exercise every day until *both* commands can be sent successfully without any input from you on when to stand or jump.

4. Tug of War Games

Tug of War Games is a great way to practice agility for your dog. Tug of War is a game where you and your puppy take turns pulling on a rope until one or both can’t hold it anymore.

The idea is that your dog learns to balance himself as he pulls the rope, which will improve his agility skills. I first tested this myself with my dog before deciding to play with him.

Top Tip Teach your puppy the command “leave” before playing tugging games that way, you are always in control

5. Teach Your Dog to Stay in a Corner or on a Mat

One of the most common dog agility training exercises at home when you first start agility is “stay on a mat.” This exercise is straightforward and can be done with puppies.

Place your dog on a mat and give the command “Stay”, then reward with treats and praise if they remain where they should

At first, you may need to help guide them back to their mat each time they leave it, but soon your dog will begin to understand the routine and will learn to stay on their mat for an extended period.

6) Teach Your Dog to Go Under Something

This trick that dog owners can do at home is called “go under something.” This one should be introduced just like “stay on a mat,” but instead of putting them in front of an object, put them behind one.

As with staying on the mat, teach precisely where they need to go by placing their food dish or some treats on the ground directly under the chosen object.

When they get used to going under the object, extend the time you place them there by small increments until they can stay for 15 minutes or more without needing to be released.

7) Teach Your Dog to Back Up

Another dog agility training exercise dogs can learn quickly is “backing up.” This one is simple in theory but does take some time for dogs to understand what you are asking of them fully.

Place yourself directly in front of your dog and slowly back away from them while going through the verbal command of backing up until they begin following your movement with their body (without getting up). Once this happens, give them lots of praise!

The Benefits of Dog Agility and Dog Sports

Training your dog to be agile is a great way to bond with them while having fun. Your dog will enjoy agility because dogs love games and challenges. Teaching an agility trick will help build their confidence and improve their focus, resulting in a happier and more obedient dog.

Not only that, but agility training can also help you get in shape and be active while improving the quality of life for the dogs!


Is it safe to train my dog at home?

Yes, you can get your dogs started at home. The key is ensuring you are prepared for the session with your pup. Your dog’s safety is a priority, so don’t ask them to do too much or something where they might hurt themselves and make sure they are comfortable with the obstacles

Here are some of the best things to do when training your puppy at home:

  • Keep sessions short; dogs learn more when training is limited to a few minutes
  • Make sure you have a space designated as his “training zone.”
  • It’s crucial for your furry friend to focus, so make sure that there are no distractions around – animals, kids, or other dogs, for example.

Can I make my own agility training courses like an agility ladder or tunnel?

Creating a ladder or tunnels is one way to make a homemade agility training course. You can start by taking using some PVC pipes to make a ladder, weaving poles or jumps.

You can make a simple sports tunnel using cardboard boxes, popping up laundry baskets or buying a cheap child’s toy tube to practice with.

Last Word

This sport and exercise for dogs can be a lot of fun for you and your dog and the good news is: that many dog agility training exercises can be done at home.

If you follow these and give them time and patience, We hope they will learn how much fun agility training with their human is!

John Devlin

Hi, my name is John, and I am the founder of Dogsbarn – a UK-based website dedicated to helping the owners of furry friends enjoy life with their four-legged companion. We currently own two golden retrievers, George and Henry, who love running around in the park together. We are thinking about adding a third – called Frank! Our mission is to provide excellent guides and introduce great products we’ve bought or come across online.