We are getting closer to our next trial, so I guess I better get all the obstacles out of the way :) Today we have the tunnel (also called an open tunnel) and the chute (also called a closed tunnel).
The tunnel is made of flexible spring-like core and a material pulled over it. Weighted anchors hold the two ends down in place.
This construction allows the tunnel to be bent in all kinds of directions. On the picture above, it is shaped like a flattened out S - there is a bend in the middle causing the dog to go a bit left and right, and coming out facing the same direction as it entered.
Another common setup is a C-shape. This one can differ from a fairly flat curve (like these parentheses), to a full 180-degree turn.
Dogs tend to either love or hate the tunnels, though it seems that the majority love them. Sometimes the initial introduction to the dark bent tunnel can be scary, but once they understand it, it can be hard keeping them away from running back and forth :)
When training the tunnel, usually it is collapsed to be very short at first, almost like a ring, so the dog can simply walk right through it. Then the length is slowly added on while the tunnel is kept straight. Once full length is achieved, curves are introduced as well.
The chute has a rigid tunnel-like entrance...
...with an attached sleeve-like soft material that the dog has to push open in order to get through.
It is very important that the chute material is straightened out before each run through it by a dog - nobody wants the furry ones getting tangled up in there! So at a trial there is always a volunteer sitting near by that runs over and straightens it out before each dog.
Even so, the chute does tend to get a bit tangled as the dogs run through, especially if they are going fast. Unfortunately I don't have any shot demonstrating this (I'll work on that next time), but I've seen dogs come out in all sorts of ways - sometime it even looks like they take a tumble and roll over themselves while inside :)
Some dogs find the idea of the chute pretty scary, but like with the regular tunnel, they usually get the hang of it quickly.
Similar to the tunnel, the chute is also trained fully rolled up at first, with length added slowly, and person holding the material open for the dog. As the dog gains confidence, the opening is made smaller and smaller, until the dog can push all the way through on its own.
For both of these obstacles, the dog must enter from the correct end and exit at the opposite end. If the dog enters the tunnel correctly, runs back and forth inside of it without coming out, and then exits correctly, it will not receive any faults, rather just lose time. However, if the dog runs in, turns around, and comes back out of the same end, it will get a refusal. A refusal is also given if the dog goes past the entrance without going in the tunnel. If the dog completes the tunnel backwards (in at exit, out at entrance), it will get a wrong course. Note that if the exit of the tunnel is farther than the entrance, and the dog does it backwards, it will get a wrong course and a refusal since it will have to go past the entrance in order to reach the back end.