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Surfaces for Course SetupUpdated 7 months ago

SwiftPaws Home is designed for home/backyard setup.

Not everyone has that ideal, perfectly level space. What follows are some guidelines for what is or is not recommended. Ideally the area is fenced, or is in some other way secure for your dog to run loose in.

The Test

Ask yourself if YOU would be ok playing on the surface.

A good rule of thumb is to think in terms of how well you would do running, playing, slipping, and falling on a particular surface. If you think you'd be happy and safe, then it should be fine for your pup!


👍 The following surfaces are fine (to possibly won't work):

The Ideal Surface to set up and run a SwiftPaws lure course is Level Ground with freshly mown grass/lawn free of debris, holes, etc.

Uneven Ground/Lawn - with holes, berms, ruts, roots, etc. - with grass freshly mown and debris like leaves, sticks, stones removed. This can definitely be challenging for both course set up and for a dog to run on - but can be used with a little extra planning and effort. Strategic placement of pulleys at peaks and valleys will allow you to keep the line at an even distance above the ground throughout the course. 

Ground/Lawn on an incline - this might also be challenging, depending on how steep the incline is but it is also, generally, fine. Determining the best placement of the drive and pulleys to achieve the best results might take a little trial and error. You might even consider a straight line set up. 

Remember that an incline means gravity will be a factor in your system's performance. It acts as drag on your system - and drag is the enemy of speed in a SwiftPaws course. But, unless your incline is steep, you should be able to successfully setup and run a lure course.

Ground/sparsely covered with patches of lawn/weeds mixed with loose dirt. This should be fine especially with strategic placement of pulleys. For example, if your dog might slip in loose dirt, you might try avoiding those areas, or at least avoid turns in loose dirt. Careful planning of your course, trim existing grass, remove loose debris and try to avoid areas that aren’t ideal. Stakes might come loose in soft sandy areas, so you may need to find ones that work better for you. 

Concrete covered with artificial turf that has sufficient padding. Turf companies have some great options these days for high-performance turfs that provide a good amount of cushion!

To prevent pad tear injuries, you can wrap the paws of more athletic, harder running pups like a lot of competitors in lure coursing do. Especially for the front paws. You can research how by googling it, you should be able to find videos of how people wrap their pup's paws. Or ask your veterinarian, breeder, or behaviorist!

On Snow! We originally did not think this was going to be an appropriate surface but our customers in snowy regions changed our minds! Keeping your pup's safety in mind - and keeping the drive/electronics from getting wet (setting the drive on something dry) - the snowy chases looked like a lot of fun! Stakes might come loose easily so you may need to find ones that work better for you. 

Indoors! Many customers successfully set up and run indoor courses. The surface should be sufficiently padded (see "The Test" above) - and instead of using stakes to anchor the pulleys and main drive - you would have to tether them to something stationary: weights, furniture, etc.

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👎 This section incorporates surfaces that we do not recommend.

Gravel or stony, loose earth, with or without sparse grass or weeds. We would not recommend this surface but it might be OK if sand and dust isn't a problem for the dog, and/or if you're sure it won't get into the pulleys and drive/electronics. Stakes might come loose easily so you may need to find ones that work better for you. 

Bare ground: Sandy or Dusty  - might be OK if sand and dust isn't a problem for the dog, or get into the pulleys and drive/electronics. Stakes might come loose easily so you may need to find ones that work better for you. 

Wet or Muddy surfaces - might be OK as long as the mud or water doesn't get into the drive/electronics. Stakes might come loose easily so you may need to find ones that work better for you. 

Littered with debris – please clear away anything that might pose a hazard to your pup: trash, (anything you wouldn’t want them to pick up or chew on), rocks, glass, etc., and natural debris such as sticks or leaves – especially if they are abundant or might interfere with running.

Back yard decks - the surface is hard and slippery, and there is an added element of a possible fall off of a deck. Use your best judgement, there are probably special circumstances where it might work. For example if you can put padding down; you can protect from falls; if your pup is small, etc. Staking would be a problem. Instead of using stakes to anchor the pulleys and main drive - you would have to tether them to something stationary: weights, furniture, etc. 

 Bare Concrete / asphalt - We do not recommended setting up on concrete / asphalt or any other hard surface. Neither indoor nor outside. Considering that your doggo is going to be running, slipping, even tumbling on this surface - this surface would not pass "The Test" above!  Which is to consider how you would fair running, slipping, and falling on that surface at full speed.

Hard packed dirt - This would be similar to concrete, above.

Hot surfaces - not recommended. This would not pass the "The Test" above!

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