Home Obstacle Courses with Cardboard Boxes

Looking for something new to do with your dog? You probably have cardboard boxes at home, so why not re-purpose those to make a fun obstacle course for your dog! This is a fun way to exercise and train indoors when the weather gets too hot or for a change to your dog’s routine that can help wear him or her out mentally and physically.

Balance Beam

  • Use a longer, closed box as a mini balance beam
  • Ensure box is sturdy and will not collapse under your dog’s weight
  • The lower the box, the easier and less scary it will be for your dog
    • This should be fun, not fearsome!
  • Start with just luring your pup with a tasty treat to get his front paws on the box
    • Reward him for this several times until he’s eagerly putting his front paws up
  • Then start your dog facing the box ahead of him
    • Keep your treats close to your dog’s nose and slowly guide him all the way onto the box
    • Reward him again and repeat until he’s easily getting all four feet on the box
  • Now you can start guiding your dog down the balance beam’s full length with treats


  • You can use your balance beam box or another closed and narrow box as an easy jump for your pup
  • Make sure the jump is low enough for your pup to step over comfortably
  • Use treats and verbal encouragement to guide your pup over the box
    • You may hop over the jump yourself to show and guide your dog
    • Reward your pup for stepping or hopping over the box
  • If you keep moving away from the jump and then offer the treat, it’s more likely your pup will follow and not end up straddling the box
  • More box jumping fun? Try coaxing your pup over one end of the box and then


  • An open cardboard box makes for a great tunnel!
    • Make sure the box is large enough for your dog to walk through to start
    • Then you can progress to a box that requires your dog to crawl through
  • Open both ends of the box and lay on the floor
    • If your box tends to flop flat, you can use other boxes or sturdy objects to prop it up
  • Toss a few treats inside the box tunnel and show your pup where they are
    • Let your pup choose to go into the tunnel to find the treats
    • Many will choose to back out of the tunnel once they get the treats, so next you can toss treats further into the box as well as at the entrance, creating a trail of treats through the tunnel
  • Once your pup is comfortable entering the tunnel, toss in your treat trail and once your pup heads into the tunnel, move to the other side of the tunnel and keep tossing treats in so your pup goes all the way through
    • You can also use verbal encouragement to coax your pup through


  • A narrow cardboard box with the flaps folded down (or cut off) can make a great hoop for your dog to walk, weave, or jump through
    • You may need to prop it up, just like your tunnel
  • Start with the box on the ground so you can lure your pup through it both directions
    • You can practice asking your pup to circle through the hoop too or do a figure eight pattern
  • For a challenge, you can hold the box hoop a few inches off the ground and lure your pup through the raised hoop

Once your dog is comfortable with several of these exercises, you can combine them into a full obstacle course at home! Don’t forget to reward your dog along the way and let them take a break as needed.

Please remember to keep your pup safe and having fun during this obstacle course. Don’t force a dog to do obstacles if he is nervous or uncomfortable, and ensure those with physical ailments are not subjected to movement that may aggravate their condition.