Introduction: Dog Agility Jump

Hello Everyone! 

My little Cockapoo, Ruby, loves to do Agility and I want to be able to practice with her at home!  One of the first pieces of equipement that is useful for a course is the Bar Jump.  It is used in all different "games" and dogs love them.  You can of course purchase jumps but when I priced them I was shocked how much they wanted for a single jump let alone as set of them!  In this Instructable I'll show you how to build a regulation jump that you can use to have fun with your dog!

Also note that on every step (other than "The Plan" step) I have included a video walking through the step.  If you just want to view all the steps in one video, view DIY Dog Agility Jump

Safety Disclaimer
If you have never trained a dog for agility, please seek the training of a professional. Improper training can harm your dog and you could pattern bad habbits in your own movements.  Agility can be a safe and fun sport for both you and your dog but some guidence is needed to ensure the longevity of your team!

Step 1: The Plan

Our goal is to build a regulation Bar Jump.  According to the AKC1 the jump needs to follow these rules:
  • Bars: 1" Schedule 40 PVC 4 to 5 feet long, striped for visiblility
  • Uprights: 1 to 4 inches wide at least 32" tall
  • Cups: Stick out no further than 1 1/2" and should allow bar to easily displace (ie. come off the cups if the dog misjudges the jump)
Those requirements make it easy to build the entire jump out of 1" PVC.  PVC is not only cheap, but available at most home improvement stores.

Following those guidelines, our design will have:
  • Bars: 1" Schedule 40 PVC 4 feet long
  • Uprights: 36" long, 1" Schedule 40 PVC
  • Feet: 18" long, 1" Schedule 40 PVC
  • Cups: custom modified PVC Tee Joint

1AKC Regulations for Agility Trials, Chapter 3, Section 8

Step 2: Parts

The parts per jump that we'll need for this build are:

  • (2) 10 foot, 1"PVC schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • (2) 1" PVC 4 way with side port1
  • (1) 1" PVC Tee Joint (each Tee joint forms 1 set of jump cups, if you have multiple dogs jumping different hights, get 1 Tee joint per jump height)
  • (6) 1" PVC Cap
  • At least one color spray paint (use leftovers if you have any, otherwise check the returned paint section of the store for cheap cans).
  • Optional - Masking tape or blue painters tape.  This will be used to mask off the stripes for the jump bars.

If you want to make multiple jumps, feel free to use the attached excel spreadsheet (or just multiply the numbers above).  Note that a lot of times, you can find the Tee joints and caps in "Contractor" packs for a substantial discount so making multiple at the same time can lower costs.

If you can't fit 10 feet of PVC in your vechicle, feel free to take the PVC pipe to the moulding section of the store.  There you'll find a handsaw you can use to trim the PVC to more manageble lengths.  I would recommend cutting each pipe into a 6 Foot and 4 Foot section as this generates less "extra" pieces.

1 I had no luck finding the 4 way side port from my local hardware stores, as such, I ended up ordering them online.  I found ebay to be the best prices for them.  You'll want to search for "PVC 4 way"  that'll bring up the right parts. Mine were about $2.50 each  These will be furniture grade so they won't be able to handle pressure, but for our purpose, that is fine.

Step 3: Tools

This will be a very simple build and needs very few tools. 
  • Something to cut the PVC Pipe (Pipe cutter, Dremel, Hacksaw, handsaw, etc).
  • Something to cut the Tee Joint (Dremel, hacksaw, etc).
  • Optional, a file to file down the cups if you want to smooth the edges.
  • Clamps or vice to help hold the Tee Joints as you cut them.
  • A tape measure
  • A marking instrument, ie, a pen/sharpie/pencil
  • Painter's Tape or masking tape.

Because I am making multiple jumps, I am carefully using a Miter Saw (Chop Saw) to cut the pieces. 

Please wear safety glasses when cutting PVC especially with power tools!  I also wear hearing protection when using the Miter Saw.

Step 4: PVC Pipe Cuts

Each jump requires using (2) 10 foot pipes.  The nice thing is each pipe is cut the same way!  If you'll be making multiple jumps, I highly recommend cutting like an assembly line.  Do all cuts of the first size, then the next, etc.

Cut each pipe so the following pieces are created:

  • (1) 4 foot pipe
  • (1) 3 foot pipe
  • (2) 18 inch pipe

If doing them in batches, I recommend the following order:
  1. Cut off 4 foot lengths of pipe from all the 10 foot pipes forming a pile of 4 foot and 6 foot pipes
  2. Cut off 3 foot lengths of pipe from the 6 foot pipes from the last step forming 2 piles of 3 foot pipes
  3. Cut off 18" lengths of pipe from only 1 of the piles of 3 foot pipes from the last step.

In the end, each jump requires:

  • (2) 4 foot
  • (2) 3 foot
  • (4) 18 inch
  • For the first cut, it can help to brace the 6 foot side of the pipe with some scrap wood.  This will prevent the pipe from bowing as you cut.

Please keep all limbs, dogs, etc. safely away from whatever cutting tool you use!

Step 5: Jump Cups

This is by far the most complex step of the whole process.  I guess that's why cups are so expensive to buy!  Also, as describing the process might be confusing, please use the photos to clarify what I'm suggesting.

Hand held saw instructions
A vice or clamp can be helpful to act as another pair of hands.
  1. Clamp the Tee Joint to a work surface so you can cut it in half down through the side port.
  2. Using a saw or Dremel like tool, cut the Tee Joint in half.
  3. Un-clamp the Tee Joint and re-clamp it so the side away from the side port is easily accessable.
  4. Use a saw or Dremel to cut the back of the Tee Joint off (2 cuts down either side of the Tee Joint)
  5. Repeat for the other half of the Tee Joint
  6. Sand or file rough edges if you'd like.
Miter Saw Instructions
  1. Due to the size of the parts, please don't hold the parts close to the blade, instead mount them on a piece of pvc pipe so you can safely hold or clamp the Tee Joints.
  2. Place a piece of PVC into the side port of the Tee Joint.  We'll call this the front.
  3. Line up the back of the Tee Joint up with the blade of your miter saw so you're will have roughly 60% or 70% of the circle left after the back is cut off.
  4. Clamp the PVC pipe down so you don't need to hold it.
  5. Slowly cut off the back of the Tee Joint discarding the back plate.
  6. Remove the Tee Joint from the pipe
  7. Put the Tee Joint back onto the pipe in one of the other two holes and place another length of PVC pipe in the other whole.  This is done so the next cut doesn't shoot one half of the Tee Joint across the room.
  8. Lay the Tee Joint on it's side and position the middle of the Tee Joint in line with the blade.
  9. Clamp both PVC pipes to prevent movement while cutting.
  10. Slowly cut the Tee Joint in half.
  11. Sand or file rough edges if you'd like.
  • I used the 18" pipes in the previous step to act as my extensions that I would put the Tee joint on.  These were the perfect length to clamp.
  • A slow speed grinder makes smoothing out the rough edges easy.
  • If you are using PVC as an extension and you find pulling off the Tee joint is a pain, a suggestion is having a cup of soapy water that you can dip the end of the pipe in before putting the pipe on the Tee Joint. This makes it easier to slide on and off the pipe.

Definitely have safety glasses on.  If the blade catches the PVC wrong, it can shoot it at high velocity and pieces will fly all over the room.

Step 6: Assembly

I do not use PVC cement because I like the ability to take apart my jumps for storage. If you would like a more permanent setup,feel free to use some.  All connections are press fitted together with my hands, if any pieces give me problems, I pull out the rubber mallet or just whack it against the ground!

Assembly Per Jump
  1. Take (2) 18" pipes and insert them into the straight through holes of the 4 way piece to form a "foot piece."
  2. Repeat the above step for the other side's "foot piece."
  3. Take (2) foot pieces and (1) 4 foot bar and place the foot pieces on the end of the 4 foot bar to form the "base."
  4. Set the "base" on the ground ensuring the remaing hole of the 4 way points towards the sky.
  5. Take a 3 foot pole and insert it into one side of the "base."
  6. Take another 3 foot pole and insert it into the other side of the "base" to form a "jump frame."
  7. Take (2) jump cups and clip them onto the 3 foot sections of the "jump frame" (if you made extra's for more dogs, feel free to put them on now).
  8. Take (6) end caps and place one on each exposed end of the "jump frame."
  9. Move the jump cups to roughly the same hight facing each other inside of the "jump frame" and place the bar on them.
  10. Using a tape measure, move the jump cups up and down so the top of the bar is at the required jump height.
  11. Take a pen or Sharpie and make a mark on the uprights for that jump height, this makes it easier in the future to reset the heights if you ever move the cups.
  • If you're having problems clipping the jump clips onto the bar, you can file or ground down the interior side of the clip to make it easier to put on the upright.
  • If you jump multiple dogs, either mark the different heights if you only have one set of clips, or, make multiple clips.
  • If you find you're moving jumps a lot, you can mount a clip upside-down near the top of the uprights.  Using the jump bar, you can "carry" the jumps easier that way.

Step 7: Paint

In order to increase visibility of the jumps for the dogs, we need to paint stripes on the bars.  Optionally, you can paint the rest of the jumps too! Feel free to get creative here and use my instructions purely for guidence.

Bar Jump
  1. For a nice clean line, take a bar and find the center. 
  2. Wrap some painter's tape centered on the center of the bar.  
  3. Move 3 or 4 inches to one side of the edge of the center tape and tape around the bar again.
  4. Repeat for the other side of the center tape.
  5. Using your spray paint, fill in the gaps you just formed with the painters tape with your favorite color (or two). Be sure to rotate as you spray and don't hold the can too close otherwise the paint will run.
  6. Set aside overnight to fully dry (or whatever the instructions say). A completed "jump frame" makes for a great drying rack, just make sure the dog doesn't use the jumps before they're dry!

Repeat for each bar.

The Rest of the Jump
  • If PVC white isn't your color of choice, feel free to paint the whole frame a color.  Unless you're staining the PVC, note that the paint may wear off.
  • I made a bar holder out of a box.  I cut "Vs" into the side and placed my bar in the "Vs." This made a great painting booth!
  • Having used the finished bars, I would recommend instead of striping down the middle of the bars, create stripes along the outside of the bars.

Safety glasses again as well as a well ventalated area!

Step 8: Finished!

The jumps are done, all that is left is to try them out!

My dog, Ruby, approves!  As always, if there are any questions please feel free to ask.

For those that are interested in getting involved with Agility for the first time, I recommend going to an Agility trail and talking with the trainers.  You will find that they will be happy to share information about the sport as well as point you to local instructors in the area. To find events in your area, try searching on the organization's below, for those outside of the USA, feel free to leave in the comments links to organizations in your countries. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, these are the ones I know about but I'm sure there are plenty more.

USA Dog Agility Organizations

See my other Instructable for plans to make your own A-Frame

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