Dog in agility competition

Dog Agility Walk Ramp

Have you ever wanted to try dog agility with your Borzoi? Maybe you’re wondering about different equipment and where you should start, or perhaps you’re questioning whether or not agility is right for you. And what is a dog agility walk ramp? A dog agility walk ramp is a piece of equipment shaped like an A-frame. It is used in dog agility, where dogs are trained to walk up one ramp, walk across a short platform, then go down another ramp.

They’re typically found in agility competitions or dog parks as part of a course, though you can also have them in your own backyard!

When I first heard of agility, I had so many questions! Is it ethical? How do you train a dog to use a dog agility A-frame?

In this article, I’ll go over these questions and much more!

What is a Dog Agility Walk Ramp?

If you’ve been to a dog park or watched a dog show, you’ve likely seen a dog agility walk ramp. They consist of two ramps in an “A” shape, connected by a flat platform in the center.

Dog in agility competition

Dogs can walk up the ramp to the top, across the platform, and back down again. This climbing motion exercises their muscles and helps to burn their energy.

Are Dog Agility Walk Ramps Good for Borzoi Dogs?

Dog agility walk ramps are good for many dog breeds, including Borzoi! These pups need plenty of exercise and agility is a great sport for them to participate in.

Agility can boost a dog’s confidence and is a great opportunity to socialize your Borzoi to different people, dogs, and environments. 

Even if you don’t participate in competitions, agility ramps at the dog park are also helpful for both exercise and socialization. Even agility ramps in your own yard can be tons of fun for you and your pup!

How Are Dog Agility Walk Ramps Used?

Dog agility walk ramps are typically used in dog agility competitions. They can also be found inside many dog parks.

Usually walk ramps are combined with other equipment such as weave courses, tunnels, and jumps to create agility courses. For instance, my local dog park has an area consisting of a walk ramp, a tunnel, and a jump that is adjustable to various heights.

Dogs are led through this equipment, performing tricks like walking the ramps, jumping the hurdles, and crawling through the tunnels.

What Age Can a Dog do Agility?

Your dog won’t be able to participate in agility competitions until they are 1-2 years old.

Puppies can begin training for agility while young, but they cannot do as much as a grown dog. It’s essential that you keep it slow and know what your puppy can handle. Some agility movements can hurt your puppy, such as high jumps or closed weaves.

Puppies shouldn’t be allowed to jump from agility ramps, and they should be kept at a gentle slope low to the ground until your dog is older.

Keep in mind that giant breeds like Borzois are still growing until 2 years of age. You should speak with your veterinarian to determine what they are able to do as they get older, and what you should hold off on until they reach maturity.

borzois at a competition

Before you begin training, ensure your dog is able to do dog agility safely. Have a conversation with your veterinarian to decide whether dog agility is the right sport for you and your pup.

If your dog has health problems, your veterinarian may recommend against agility. The same goes for brachycephalic breeds (those with short muzzles) or breeds with short legs and long backs, as these breeds can’t exercise in the same ways that healthier breeds can.

How do you Train a Borzoi to use an Agility Dog Walk?

Training a Borzoi to use an agility dog walk is fairly simple, but you’ll need to do some prep work first. 

Before agility training, your dog should know basic commands such as recall, sit, stay, and heel. These make training easier.

Once your pup has those tricks down, train them to use the dog agility A-frame like so:

  1. Stand by the frame and call your dog to you. Praise them for their good recall and attach their leash. This will help you to guide them and prevent them from jumping off the ramp.
  2. Get their attention with a treat. Once your dog is by your side, show them that you have their favorite treat in hand! This will catch their interest.
  3. Choose a command. Some people use “up” or “climb” to signal to their dog what they expect. Repeat this command each time you have your dog interact with the ramp.
  4. Guide your dog to the ramp with the treat. Stand to the side and hold the treat over the ramp. Your goal is to begin leading your dog up the ramp, then down the other side. However, they might not make it the whole way at first.
  5. Reward progress. Even a foot on the A-frame is progress! Some dogs will be more hesitant than others. Always reward any progress, and let your dog decide when they’re ready to move forward. You may have to treat them simply for interacting with the ramp, then lead up to walking it. Have patience and take it slow!
  6. Watch for jumping. Often, dogs may try to jump off the ramp before they hit the bottom. This may not be a problem for your dog, but depending on the ramp’s height and your dog’s breed and health, it could be dangerous. If your dog can’t handle the fall, keep a close watch on them to ensure they don’t jump! A short leash helps with this.
  7. Repeat until they’ve learned. Repeat the process, treating your pup every time they put a paw or two on the ramp or make it up a third of the way, until they can go all the way up and down consistently.
  8. Phase out treats. Once your pup knows how to use the A-frame consistently, you can begin to phase out the treats if you’d like. Reward them only when they walk the entire ramp, then every second time, and so on.

Never force your dog up or down the ramp, and don’t scold or punish them for their lack of progress. Remember agility is only for fun and let your dog take it at their own pace.

Types of Dog Agility Walk Ramps

Dog A frame agility ramps come in various designs. Factors to look for include length, width, slope, and material.

Some ramps have multiple rungs that go horizontally across the sides of the ramp for dogs to get a grip as they climb, while others lack these.

Sizing

There are three factors that go into sizing a dog agility A-frame: length, width, and slope.

Longer ramps take more time for your pup to get across and can be great for active breeds that are used to agility training. Dogs who haven’t yet mastered the agility ramp may be better off learning on a shorter one.

The width of the ramp is important as it can increase the difficulty for your dog. Dogs should learn on a wider ramp and be introduced to more slender ones gradually.

Lastly, slope makes a huge difference when it comes to the difficulty level your dog will face. Think about the difference between walking on flat ground versus climbing a mountain! The mountain is steeper, and therefore much harder to climb.

Added difficulty can be great for some dogs, but others can’t handle this. All dogs should start off on gentle slopes and work their way up to steeper ones.

The size of ramp that’s best for your pup will depend on their age, breed, and health.

Puppies and senior dogs can’t take as strenuous activity as healthy adult dogs who are still in their younger days. If they use a ramp at all, it should be easy for them to climb. The slope shouldn’t be too steep and the ramp shouldn’t be too slender.

Material

Some materials of dog agility ramps include:

  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Steel

Wood is most often used in DIY ramps, while those on the market are more typically made of aluminum or steel.

There are pros and cons to each of these materials, of course.

Steel is more durable than aluminum, but costs and weighs more. Aluminum is more lightweight, making it easier to move when needed, and is more budget-friendly than steel.

Steel and aluminum dog walks get quite hot when left in the sun, however, and could burn your dog’s paws if you aren’t careful. You may have to limit training to cool days.

Wood doesn’t retain heat the same as these metals. It also tends to be cheapest, particularly if you DIY a simple wooden ramp for your dog.

Is Dog Agility Cruel?

Dog agility is not inherently cruel. However, like with any activity, people can be cruel to their dogs while training or competing.

So long as you use positive training methods, never punish your dog for poor performance, and allow them to stop when they like, dog agility isn’t cruel.

Punishing your dog is never okay, nor is trying to dominate them or act as the “alpha dog.” These training methods are outdated, cruel, and often cross the line into abusive behavior. They can also promote fear and aggression in your dog.

Dog agility can also be cruel if you push your dog past their limits. For instance, dogs with arthritis may have a hard time navigating an agility ramp and should be given more gentle exercise.

Healthy dogs shouldn’t be forced to keep training until they get frustrated or to the point of physical pain. Stop training or take things more slowly if you notice any signs of discomfort in your dog.

Of course, your dog should also have a life outside of agility. Adopting a dog purely for competitive reasons isn’t right.

You likely know your dog well enough to see whether they’re enjoying an activity or not. So long as they’re having fun, that’s what matters!

What Other Equipment is Used in Dog Agility?

Weave Courses

Weave courses look like a bunch of poles spaced apart on the ground. They may be spaced quite far apart, or fairly close together. Dogs are trained to weave between them.

dog weaving through posts

Typically, training starts with only a few obstacles spaced widely apart and becomes more difficult as your pup gets more practice.

Training can be done with other objects, such as orange traffic cones or even every-day objects. Some people train their dogs to weave between their legs!

Tunnels

Tunnels can be elevated off the ground or unelevated. Some are straight, while others curve. Dogs are trained to walk or run through tunnels and come out the other end.

Training typically begins with a short, straight, and simple tunnel. These are easiest for dogs to climb through.

dog running through agility tunnel

Over time, you can progress to more difficult tunnels such as those with curves for your pup to navigate.

Jumps

Dog agility jumps consist of two vertical bars with a horizontal bar joining them. The horizontal bar can typically be moved to various heights.

Dogs are trained to jump over the horizontal bar.

Training begins at short heights, and the bar is raised higher over time as the dog learns.