Every day when we take The Red Pointy Dogs out for their walk, we practice Parkour. It helps us get more out of our walk. By using their brain and bodies in unique ways, they are more tired than they would be after a normal walk. It keeps them engaged with us making it easier to get their attention and making recall and leash manners more achievable. Their bodies have gotten stronger and they know how to maneuver through the woods more safely after practicing this so much.
So what exactly is Parkour?
Think agility meets the woods, tricks on a natural obstacle course, freestyle hiking. At its core Parkour is all about interacting with your and using your environment in creative ways. You take some base behaviors like Under, Over, Around, Four Paws On, Two Paws On and more, and apply them to wherever you are. Do you hike with your dog in the woods? Teach them to hop up on rocks, put their paws on stumps or walk along fallen trees. Live in a city or downtown area? Teach them to go under benches, around signs or over planters. Maybe you're stuck inside due to weather? Try teaching them to hop into a suitcase, or go under the coffee table. The possibilities are truly only limited by your imagination.
Why do parkour?
Parkour teaches your dog to use their entire body. Dogs usually have to learn to use their hind end properly and once they do it will really help in preventing injury in the future.
It promotes teamwork. When teaching Parkour we really focus on it being your dog’s choice. When we let them decide if they are ready to do something it promotes trust and will go a long way to growing your relationship.
You will see the world differently. Soon after practicing these behaviors you will start to notice there are opportunities everywhere! You will see things that you may have walked past for years in a completely different light and suddenly that down branch presents a base for fun to be had every single time you pass it!
It encourages safety. A huge part of Parkour is learning how to safely spot your dog to minimize impact over time. We never want to push our dogs to do something they aren’t ready for or will cause long term damage. Once you learn a safe set of parameters and good spotting techniques, your dog should be able to practice this fun sport for years and years.
There is no equipment needed! Dog sports are so much fun as they all offer something useful and unique. Often though it is hard to practice outside of class without buying equipment. In Parkour all you need is a harness, leash and a bag of treats. You can keep your dog spry and in working shape as you wait for your next rally or fly ball class or keep up with some of the agility behaviors you learned as you wait for your tunnel to arrive!
Most of all Parkour is meant to be fun. You can title your dog via video submission so if you have a reactive dog this can be an excellent sport for you! If you have no interest in titling that is fine too! After you learn the behaviors and movements, along with some good safety guidelines and spotting techniques you are good to go off and have as much fun for as long as you want, wherever you and your dog may find yourselves. So go out, find fun ways to interact with your environment, tire your dog out and build your relationship.