Here’s How to Make An Pet Obstacle Course In Your Backyard

Mia Daniele

There’s nothing more exciting than the Olympics. While they might only come once every four years, you can host an animal Olympics games for your dog and cat at any time. Homemade obstacle courses are the perfect way to enrich your pets’ lives, giving dogs an opportunity to exercise and cats the chance to practice their prowl.

woman playing with dog in backyard

We have some of our favorite DIY pet obstacle courses listed below so that you can host your own competitive games. Who knows, with enough training on a DIY obstacle course, maybe your dog will have what it takes to participate in the official dog Olympics.

What Are the Benefits of A Pet Obstacle Course?

It’s a well-known fact that many cats and dogs do not get the enrichment they need in their everyday lives. Whether they do not have free access outside through a pet door or are bored of their typical games, it’s easy for your pet to become bored. This can lead to destructive behavior like constant urination or furniture scratching.

Finding fun ways to keep your dog and cat active is one of the best ways to combat their boredom. Pet doors are a great way to give them access to new areas in and out of the house, but pet obstacle courses have their own unique benefits. Not only are they a great opportunity for you and your pet to bond, but they train both their mind and body. Fun obstacle courses force your cat to work through complex problems and your dog to leap, run, and stretch as far as they can.

Before starting your games, make sure that it’s safe for your pet to participate in. Clear out the play area of anything that can hurt your dog or cat, such as shelves that can be knocked over. Also take into consideration your pet’s health. If they are getting older or are not all that active, they may be more prone to injury during intense play. If you are playing outside, make sure that it is not too hot and that there is plenty of water for them to drink.

All that being said, here’s how to build an obstacle course that will be fun for your dog and cat.

dog going through door

Jumping Through Hoops

This is one of the most famous moves on a dog obstacle course, and all you will need for it is a hula hoop. To begin, have your cat or dog get used to walking through the hoop when it is help to the ground (you may need a few treats or toys to motivate them the first few times). Then, once they get the hang of walking through the loop, you can start raising the hoop little by little until they can start jumping through it.

It might take a while to build up the skills necessary for this obstacle, but once your dogs and cats get the hang of it, they’ll be leaping for every opportunity to try again.


This is one of the most famous obstacles for dog agility courses out there, and for good reason. It pushes your dog to weave as quickly as they can between a set of poles lined up in the ground without knocking any of them over. You don’t even need any fancy poles from a dog agility kit for this course. PCV pipe or even furniture are great substitutions.

This obstacle is also a part of the official dog Olympics, which means there are a few optional goals you can aim for as your dog gains better agility. You can try to train your dog to not need any verbal commands or treats to lead and motivate them through the course. Instead, your aim is for your dog to weave between the poles without command. This is optional for home-play, so don’t feel bad if your dog can’t do it.

But if they can, you might have an olympian in the family.

cat looking at cat door for windows

Jumping Over Bars

Every dog and cat likes to jump, so we have confidence that this will be a great cheap small obstacle for your at-home Olympics. All you need is a bar for your pet to jump over, like a cane or a PCV pipe. Hold it out and encourage your dog or cat to leap over it. Raise the bar higher after every jump, pushing your dog and cat to leap higher.

This is another inexpensive game that can easily be adapted to what you have at home. If you don’t have a bar, you can also your a pillow, a kitchen spoon, or any other type of obstacle. If your pet is an advanced jumper, you can even encourage them to jump over furniture-- just make sure that it’s soft in case they trip, like a bed or a couch cushion.

Army Crawl

Have your dog and cat crawl under a low table in order to retrieve a toy or treat. All you need for this game is any type of low furniture that your pet can comfortably crawl under, like a coffee table or a patio table.

This game is especially great for a cat obstacle course, as they love any type of tight space. Just make sure that there’s enough space for your furry friends to crawl under without getting stuck.


Finally, you can always have your dog or cat spring from one side of the course to the other as fast as they can. This is especially great for hyperactive dog breeds, like hunting dogs, who have more energy to burn off. You can encourage them to run by having them fetch their favorite ball, come running to you from the other side of the yard, or by being chased around by you.

While this is a great obstacle course for the backyard, you can even do this indoors with your cat, just make sure that you clear out the room of furniture or anything that can be knocked off a shelf.

This is a great, low-cost solution that requires no additional equipment from you but will still be enjoyed by your pet.

All of these homemade obstacles will make for a great afternoon activity for you and your pet. And if your dog needs more adventure during the week, a pet door is a great way to enhance their lives and add a little excitement to the downtime between doggie Olympic games (just make sure that you measure your dog correctly for your pet door).
Mia Daniele

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Mia Daniele

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

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