Before teaching your guinea pig to run an agility course, you need to find or make some agility equipment! On this page, I’ve put together a list of different obstacles you can make or buy for your miniature agility course.
I have tutorials for a few of the obstacles, and I’ll link to those when there’s a tutorial. You can also be creative and build your own obstacles based on the things you have in your home.
***Note: Be sure that all agility equipment you use is stable, low to the ground, and wide enough for the guinea pig to use safely. Guinea pigs are not very athletic animals. This should always be taken into account when selecting items to use for your agility course.***
Bar jumps are the most popular obstacle in any agility course. You can make them in almost any style and out of a variety of materials. I’ve built a few different types of jumps for my piggies. I’ll list them below and talk about how I made them.
This is my favorite style of bar jump. It took some tweaking to get the size just right, but the result is adorable! I have several of these jumps in various colors. They look very cute in an agility course!
To build this, I used jumbo popsicle sticks and dowels. The jump was assembled with hot glue and then painted to look like a cute horse jump. These jumps are 3 inches high at the top bar. You can make them slightly higher, but it’s best not to go too high with guinea pigs.
Keep in mind that you cannot build this with regular popsicle sticks. The jumps will turn out much too small for guinea pigs. However, regular popsicle stick jumps do end up at the perfect size for hamster/mouse/gerbil jumps if you have some smaller animals as well.
This is a more flexible style of jump. They don’t allow the guinea pig to put their paws on it and push themselves off like the sturdier fixed bar jump above.
This can be good because the guinea pigs will learn to actually jump rather than just “climb” over the jump. However, this means that the flexible jump has to be much lower than a sturdy style of jump. I usually keep them less than 2 inches high.
The thing I like the most about flexible jumps is that you can push them lower when the guinea pig is first learning to jump. It’s super easy to make them lower or higher based on the guinea pig’s skill level.
I made these jumps simply with jumbo popsicle sticks, hot glue, and a cheap dog rope toy from the dollar store.
Cardboard jumps are the easiest to make and don’t require any additional materials. These jumps are sturdy and simple and can be painted in any colors or patterns you want. They are assembled simply with cardboard and glue.
I have a tutorial for making these types of jumps here: Easy cardboard guinea pig jumps.
On that page, I have the step-by-step tutorial, along with the sizes of all the pieces you need to cut so your jump ends up being the perfect size for your guinea pigs.
A hoop jump is a freestanding hoop obstacle for the guinea pig to jump through. Make sure this hoop is roomy enough for your guinea pig to jump through easily. My hoop is about 6 inches in diameter, with a jump height of about 3 inches.
Your guinea pig should learn how to go through a hoop and jump over a bar jump before you teach this obstacle. However, the hoop jump is generally easy to teach once they’ve learned these other tricks.
I have a tutorial on making this obstacle from scratch here: DIY Freestanding hoop jump.
I made this jump using some jumbo popsicle sticks, hot glue, craft foam sheets, and feathers (definitely the most essential part!)
Covered Hoop Jump
The covered hoop jump is essentially a hoop jump with a more challenging element. Covered hoop jumps make a cool and unique addition to an agility course.
You can make this type of hoop by simply attaching a small dowel to the top of your hoop jump and taping a piece of paper or fabric to the hoop. That way, you can use your hoop jump as two different obstacles.
The open tunnel is a pretty standard obstacle in an agility course. Going through a tunnel is easy to teach, and most guinea pigs learn it fairly quickly. You can also find tunnels in all shapes and sizes to make your course more interesting. For example, these bendable and extendable tunnels can be curved and shaped in different ways (similar to the green tunnel in the photos).
Once you’ve taught your guinea pig to go through a short straight tunnel, you can gradually extend the length of your tunnel and then start to curve it into a semi-circle.
The closed tunnel is similar to the open tunnel but with an added challenge. Rather than being open all the way through, the last section of the tunnel is collapsed, so the guinea pig has to push through the fabric at the end. Your guinea pig should definitely learn to go through a regular tunnel very well before tackling the closed tunnel.
The easiest way to make a closed tunnel is to find a way to attach some fabric to your open tunnel. This part can involve a bit of creativity; just make sure your tunnel is heavy enough to hold up as the guinea pig runs through the closed part. You can also use a guinea pig tunnel with curtains as a type of closed tunnel in an obstacle course.
A pause table or platform can be another addition to a guinea pig agility course. A platform can be a good starting or ending point in your obstacle course.
Platforms can be handmade, or you can use any kind of flat, sturdy object. A block of wood that is large enough for the guinea pig to get on easily works great.
In the photo to the left, I’m using an old soft-sided binder. You can also use hardcover books or similar things and place a towel over them for added grip and protection from accidents.
Balance Beam and A-Frame
You can also build some contact obstacles for your guinea pig. A balance beam, also known as a dog walk or bridge, needs to be low to the ground and sturdy. Despite its name, the balance beam should be wide enough for the guinea pig to walk across easily.
The A-Frame is similar. It should be fairly low and wide for the guinea pig to navigate easily. Both should have some kind of slats to provide extra grip for the guinea pig as they walk across.
I built these two with some wood pieces and hinges so the obstacles can fold for storage. The balance beam is held up by a couple of wood blocks under the middle section. The A-Frame is held up and adjustable by two miniature chains attached to the bottom of the frame.
Photo coming soon!
Teeter totters are another cool obstacle you can build for your agility course. Similar to the contact obstacles above, the teeter-totter should be wide and sturdy. Slats across the obstacle are also important for extra grip. The teeter-totter should not have a very steep tip when the guinea pig walks over. Keep it fairly low, so the obstacle only tips an inch or two when the guinea pig crosses from one side to the other.
You can make weave poles with dowels and a base, but I prefer to use plastic cups as makeshift weave poles for guinea pigs. They are much easier to stack together and store. Plus, you can set up as many or as few as you’d like to use. I’m using jello cups in the photo to the left, but any kind of sturdy plastic cup will work great.
Weave poles are a little harder to teach than most other obstacles, but it’s still a cool one to teach. In a course, you’ll likely use just 3 poles, as guinea pigs require a lot of space to weave.
Re-using Household Items For Guinea Pig Agility
There are likely lots of items in your own home that could be repurposed as guinea pig agility equipment with just a few minor modifications. Be creative as you look around your house and think about things that you could transform into potential agility pieces.
Some popular ideas are using a small cardboard box as a tunnel, using cups as weave poles, or cutting out a hoop from a scrap piece of cardboard or bristol board. A long block of wood could be a balance beam. You can even build some things, such as jumps, using popsicle sticks and dowels. You may also be able to find some cheap things at yard sales or dollar stores that could be turned into agility obstacles with a little handiwork. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with!