As a former agility competitor and current hobby dog trainer who assists at agility classes, I was really excited about the Outward Hound Zip & Zoom Indoor Agility Kit. Living in NYC where space is super limited, I am always looking for new and fun ways to play and train my dogs inside our apartment, especially in the spring when the weather is often rainy. Both my dogs have very elementary-level experience with agility, so I thought we could have some fun with the kit.
When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with how small it was and that the whole kit fit into a little orange bag.
Here’s what you get in the bag:
1. “Weave poles”
I’m putting these in quotes because I’m not sure that these really qualify as weave poles. I had thought from the picture that they were some sort of suction system that attached to your floor, but they are actually un-weighted cups that you stick the poles (which resemble thick straws) into. Even if you set them up at the appropriate spacing for weaving, the problem is that even the slightest touch from the dog (Charlotte has an exuberant tail) going through them knocks them over. This is fairly counterintuitive to how weaving is supposed to work in agility.
It’s not a total loss, though; I do use them individually as a prop for working with sending my dogs out and around something.
This is probably the best designed part of the kit, but it’s incredibly tiny. True, I was excited about this kit being small so I could use it in my Brooklyn apartment, but this jump is just really, really small. While it’s adorably sized for my 10-pound Chihuahua mix, Mercury, it’s a little silly with my 50-pound Cattle Dog/Shepherd mix, Charlotte. I don’t actually think a dog much bigger than her could even use the jump.
That said, I like that the jump height is super adjustable and that if the dog hits the bar it will pretty easily fall, though often that takes the whole jump down with it. It’s not a problem for my dogs, but it could be spooky to some.
Next to the tiny jump, this tunnel is hilariously huge! It folds flat (but I’ve yet to get it back to the flat form it came in) and pops up like a tent, making it very easy to use though slightly more challenging to put away. However, like the weave poles, the tunnel doesn’t really offer a very accurate representation of actual agility equipment.
My dogs, who have a very basic level understanding of the word “tunnel,” went through this obstacle with no problem and thought it was very fun. My cats also thought the tunnel was a great toy.
Overall, the quality of design and construction didn’t meet my expectations, though I was pleased to see that the kit wasn’t particularly dangerous. It just really won’t work if your goal is to teach your dogs agility. I wasn’t expecting actual agility equipment that could prepare a dog-and-handler team for competition, but I had slightly higher hopes for the usability of the kit. It could be fun for a kid who isn’t interested in getting serious about dog sports. When I was in elementary school, I had a rescued Lhasa Apso I spent hours and hours trying to teach various tricks, and I’m sure I would have thought this kit was the best thing ever.
Quality: Fair. The idea is good, but the quality of the executed product itself is lacking.
Style: I’m going to give extra points for the cute factor of how well the kit compacts into one little storage bag.
Function: Seriously lacking. I think this kit was designed by someone who doesn’t fundamentally understand how agility works.
Creativity: Cool idea to have an indoor agility kit, but I’ve got to take points away in this category — with a little more attention to detail, the kit could have been much better.
Value: $39.99 is pretty steep for a few plastic straws and a pop-tent tunnel. At this price point, I expect better design and functionality.
If you’re looking for a fun, low-key way to spice up your training/trick time with your dog, or if you have a kid in your life who’s into dog sports, this kit could be fun. I think it’s worth the storage space in my closet, and I’ll likely continue to pull parts from it from time to time. But if you have real aspirations to compete in agility with your dog, spend your money on real equipment and classes.