The A-frame is constructed of two sides, each three feet wide and nine feet long. The dog must scale this obstacle by going up one side and down the other, touching the painted contact zone at the bottom. For stability, the A-frame is braced underneath. The hinged ramps are secured to each other near the bottom with metal or wood. Chain is a popular brace material for adjustable A-frames. The ramp surfaces are specially prepared for good traction.
Even a young pup can begin A-frame training right away, and you don’t need a regulation A-frame for the first try. A basic incline can be fashioned at home by leaning ramps on steps. It’s helpful to practice first inclines with your dog in a casual way to keep it fresh and fun.
A regulation A-frame that is adjustable is great for learning. Training on the A-frame is also greatly enhanced by group work. The more confident dogs are invited to go across first and are praised wildly as they succeed. That makes it much easier for others to follow and learn how it’s done.The wide ramp is very inviting, and whole litters of pups cavorting on a very low A-frame are well documented in agility homes.
Step 1: The A-frame has an apex height of about three feet. Let your dog check it out and climb to the tune of praise and treats.
Step 2: The apex is raised to about four feet, but only when your dog is ready. Add a contact position and clicker.
Step 3: Gradually raise the A-frame higher. Continue to bolster your dog’s enthusiasm and accuracy. When your dog is reliably
offering correct contact performance, begin to add complexity for independent contact work at speed.
Step 4: Gradually raise the A-frame to full height. Further improve control for contact zones by varying the “Three Ds”: distance, duration and distraction.
Excerpt from the book Enjoying Dog Agility by Julie Daniels with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press. Purchase Enjoying Dog Agility here.