So, What is Dog Parkour?
Dog Parkour is a new and fun sport that we can do with our dogs that encourages them to interact and engage with their environment, and although it might appear to be less extreme than its human counterpart it is still just as fun and challenging for your dog, Dog Parkour is often referred to as urban agility. The best thing about Dog Parkour is that it can be done anywhere, you don’t need fancy equipment or anything special to take part, you just use the environment around you and the obstacles that you find it in, a none restrictive harness for your dog, a lead and your imagination. We teach our dogs to engage with their environment in different ways, such as: getting them to stand with 2 or 4 feet on different objects or obstacles, crawling under obstacles, jumping over obstacles, walking and balancing on narrow beams or platforms, getting inside items, stretching against walls and walking on different surfaces – all of these challenge the dog’s fitness abilities and get their brain working as well.
As dog owners, we are in charge of everything that happens in our dogs lives, from when and where they sleep, what they eat to when how they exercise, so it’s important that when we walk our dogs that we make sure they get the most out of it both physically and mentally and that they (and us) enjoy it. When walking our dogs it’s important that our dog engages with us and isn’t just interested in chasing rabbits the whole time, it’s great to be able to enjoy a walk together and relax in each others company rather than wondering where our dog is or what they are getting up to. Through Dog Parkour and playing games with our dogs, it turns our walks into an adventure and enables us to have fun with our dogs and strengthen our bond with them by encouraging our dogs to focus on us rather than sniffing out squirrels.
Benefits of doing Parkour with our Dogs
Dog Parkour is also a brilliant way of increasing muscle mass and strength in our dogs, and helping to strengthen the core muscles which can help towards preventing injury. By strengthening our dogs muscles and keeping them strong and fit it can also be hugely beneficial to other sports that we might do with our dogs such as Canicross, Agility, Disc Dog or Fly ball. Parkour works loads of muscles in our dogs from their neck and back all the way down to their toes!
Twenty minutes of Dog Parkour is the equivalent of an hours walk and can be more than enough to tire a dog out for a morning or afternoon. Parkour can be helpful for young, nervous or reactive dogs as it helps them to build confidence by focusing on the task at hand rather than what else might be going on around them, and its also brilliant fun and will hopefully encourage your dog to focus on you during walks as they will always be wondering ‘Whats Next’.
How can dogs get involved in Dog Parkour?
The great thing about Dog Parkour is that any dog no matter their breed or age can take part, during Dog Parkour we encourage our dogs to move carefully and calmly so it is great for dogs that are growing older by helping to keep them active and keeping their muscles strong and healthy, its also brilliant for nervous dogs as it helps them gain confidence in their environment. I’d recommend doing a training class in Dog Parkour to start with, just so you know how to keep your dog safe whilst doing Parkour, there are various certified instructors all around the country and around the world should you wish to have a go.
Obstacles in Dog Parkour
The best part about Dog Parkour is that you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to get involved you can just use what you come across on your daily walks or have in your home already. Living in Cornwall we are blessed to have some wonderful places to walk and go on adventures with our dogs so finding naturally occurring obstacles is easy, but you don’t have to just use obstacles that occur in nature, cities have som brilliant obstacles you can use as well. Here are some of my favourite pieces of equipment or obstacles to use:
- Fallen trees or Trees stumps that have been cut down and are flat
- Boulders or big rocks
- Small/low walls
- Road Cones for weaving
- Boxes – cardboard or plastic
- Playgrounds / Parks (so long as they are empty and dogs are allowed)
- Trays, washing baskets, suitcases
- Low jumps – Homemade will do the job perfectly
Equipment for your Dog
Ensure that your dog is wearing a well-fitting, non-restrictive harness (one that IS NOT Anti-pull as these work by restricting the dog’s movement). Perfect Fit, Non-Stop Dog Wear, Ruff Wear all make suitable harnesses for Dog Parkour. I use the Line Harnesses from Non-Stop Dogwear as they are a nice, high-quality harness that has multiple uses ( see the bottom of the page for a link)
You’ll also need a lead – one that is not too long as we don’t want it getting caught in any obstacles or get tangled up with the dog. You’ll need to ensure you are there to ‘spot’ your dog at all times, this means that you are there and able prevent them falling or catch them or lessen the impact should they slip or fall from an obstacle. Safety is our priority in Parkour and we want your dog to enjoy themselves and have a great time.
Why I decided to become a Dog Parkour Instructor:
I qualified as a Certified Dog Parkour Instructor with Dog Parkour UK back in 2019, I’ve always loved going on adventures with my dogs, they love being outdoors and so do I, and along with the Canicross, I’m really interested in Canine health, fitness and well being so Dog Parkour seemed like the perfect fit for me. It complements the Canicross training that I do with my own dogs really well as it encourages them to slow down and think about what they are doing with their body and also helps to strengthen their muscles at the same time. Its also been really beneficial for our rescue dog Briar as he can be very nervous in new environments or of new people so it has been great for helping him to gain confidence too
I and am planning on running classes in Dog Parkour very soon, and, like all the training methods that I use, I only use kind, effective and fair methods when training our dogs and training Dog Parkour is no different, we should always ensure our dogs have a choice and never force them into anything they are not comfortable with.
Where to find out more about Dog Parkour:
Follow these links for more information about Dog Parkour or to find a local instructor – or if you have any questions then feel free to get in contact with us