Explore Your Neighborhood: Jumping Into Dog Parkour

As much as we may want to sign our dog up for cool classes like agility, barn hunt, or rally, sometimes we are unable to do so. In some cases, it is due to our work schedule while in others, it is due to either finances or having no classes within a reasonable distance.

If you’re looking to do something fun with your furry pal, dog parkour might be right up your alley. According to the International Dog Parkour Association, the sport combines canine agility with the elements of human parkour. Our pets will learn how to jump, climb, balance and move through everyday obstacles with ease, and the only thing you’ll need is a bag of treats and maybe a clicker. There’s no expensive equipment required, as you are only limited to your creativity. Plus, it’s not competitive but you can still gain titles such as “Novice Parkour Dog.”

I’d heard about dog parkour a few months ago, but didn’t start researching it until very recently. My younger dog Zoe is very fearful and also suffers from noise phobia, so I wanted to find an activity that wasn’t too noisy. She’s also leash reactive, so it was important that I find an activity that she could perform solo.

What’s great about dog parkour is that any dog can do it. As long as your dog’s growth plates have closed and they have been cleared by a veterinarian, pets of all ages can participate.

It’s also not expensive at all, which makes it a great choice for busy and low-income pet owners alike. The obstacles used in dog parkour are everyday objects around town, such as the old tree stump in your backyard or the benches in your local park. You can also easily practice moves such as “four feet on” on your daily walks as well. This is a move where you teach your dog to stand with all four feet on an object, such as a fire hydrant or an old tree stump in the park. Not only will this help your dog’s muscle memory during canine parkour, but it also helps burn off their mental energy as well. Given how busy our lives are, incorporating parkour practice on walks is the perfect way to make sure that our beloved pets get their much-needed mental and physical exercise each day.

I was also intrigued by dog parkour because it’s a great way to build your pet’s confidence. Whether your dog is fearful like my Zoe or a rambunctious teenager, this activity will help teach your pooch that no, the everyday objects they encounter are actually not scary at all. You might not see an immediate change, but the more your practice parkour with your dog, the more their confidence will grow over time.

This is also the perfect sport for owners of dogs with behavioral issues. Let’s face it, coming up with ways to keep our reactive or aggressive dogs entertained can be difficult, especially if you live in a metropolitan area like New York City. Classes might also be out of the question, especially if you’ve just started working with a trainer on rehabilitating your pooch. There are quiet spots to be found in most neighborhood, and with a bit of creativity, you can incorporate dog parkour. That way, your pooch gets to have a bit of fun and learn a new sport without you having to worry about running into another dog.

Even if your dog is incredibly well behaved and social, dog parkour is a great way to cross-train for other sports such as agility or barn hunt. For example, the move “four feet on” is a great way to help your pet get better at climbing the bales of hay or the A-frame in agility.

Finally, dog parkour also teaches your dog how to work around distractions and focus on you. Whether you own a reactive pooch or want to get involved in dog sports, being able to work around distractions while maintaining good focus is an incredibly helpful skill.

If you’re in the market for a fun activity that allows you to bond with your dog and explore your neighborhood, why not give dog parkour a try? Plus, if you need help training a move, the official website and Facebook pages are chock full of great tips that will help you turn your pooch into a conditioned athlete in no time at all.

About the Author:

Amanda Ferris is an accomplished writer who has written for sites such as TheThings, IndieReader, Fashion&Style, and New York Family. For the past five years, she has volunteered for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn’s very own Love Wanted Pet Adoptions. She currently owns a laid-back 12-year old Bichon Frise named Esme, and a 3-year-old fearful mystery mutt named Zoe whose noise phobia and anxiety sparked her foray into the world of positive reinforcement dog training.

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