What is Dog Parkour?
Dog Parkour is also known as Urban Agility. The dog/human team uses obstacles found in the “wild” to challenge the dog physically and mentally to move through space. OK, that sounds kind of strange and probably does not sound like much fun, but dog parkour can be lots of fun for both you and your dog.
Dog Parkour asks your dog to interact with obstacle in some way, maybe putting their paws on a bench or crawling under the it, walking along the rim of the flower bed. There are common parkour behaviors including standing on or in, jumping over, crawling under, and going around. The fun starts to happen when you and your dog combine multiple parkour behaviors into strings. I have been doing parkour with my guy since he was a puppy. I started it because it was fun for us to try new things, to get him used to different surfaces and because I knew with his expected adult size, he needed to become body aware. We started with simple things, like putting his paws on one of those big rocks you find in landscaping. Then jumping up on the edge of a flower bed in Estes and walking around the rim, but not walking into the flowers. As he got older, we tried more difficult things, one of our favorites is at a nearby school. There is an area where the landscaping includes a long series of big flat-topped rocks with some space between them. We go there and he moves from rock to rock, sometimes I stop him on one rock and sometimes we just do the jumps between the rocks. You can almost see him laugh as he jumps from one to the other. This is parkour!
Why Parkour Important?
While Dog Parkour is fun, it is also a great way to develop and strengthen a relationship with your dog. My guy does not just jump up on everything we pass, he knows to wait for my signal, he watches me, pays attention to what my body and voice tell him to do. That is not something that comes immediately but when it does, it is an amazing feeling. It also helps keep his body strong and agile, while he is on the larger side, my older girl who is smaller and over 12 likes parkour too, it helps her maintain her girlish figure and stay strong. Parkour can be adapted to just about any size and age of dog if your vet says they are fit enough to participate, you should be set.
Parkour is also about paying attention to your dog’s safety, you evaluate each obstacle thinking about your dog’s fitness and confidence level, the surrounding area, the dismount safety and how you need to spot your dog to make sure you both have a fun and safe time.
There are some side effects of parkour. I am always looking for obstacles where I can take my guy to, so we can play. Yesterday I was driving by a park and noticed that there were a series of down logs with a stump in the middle, I know where we are headed soon, he is going to love jumping up on those logs and moving along to pose on that stump. We will both have fun.
Check out the International Dog Parkour Association for more information about Dog Parkour and if titles are your thing, IDPA has several titles available for you and your dog.