When I say Parkour, you may envision people rebounding off of buildings in a city center, or that one episode of The Office. But how do dogs fit into the mix?
Years ago, a couple of dog trainers and Parkour enthusiasts wanted their dogs to join in their exploration and fun. As they explored together they saw their dogs light up and fall in love with the sport as well!
They enjoyed it so much that they decided to share this with other dog/human teams and founded the International Dog Parkour Association (IDPKA). Through the association they brought the principles and philosophy of human parkour to the dog world. But what made their dogs love it? And why are we talking about it now?
Why Dogs Love It
Parkour is all about exploring and using our environment in a new way. And our dogs love this. They get to jump and climb and explore all sorts of surfaces and surroundings. This doesn’t mean our dogs are just jumping on everything in sight. Parkour works on stimulus control; ensuring our dogs only jump on and off on cue. Even without jumping on everything, this is a great way to jazz up a walk.
Parkour can pose an interesting challenge for our pups; physically, mentally, or emotionally. For our energetic adolescents, this is a great sport for expending their energy in a controlled manner and putting these behaviors on cue and under stimulus control works their mind. Though our fearful pups may not spring up right away, Parkour is a great way to encourage our pups
to explore and gain confidence. Once on a heightened perch, our fearful pups have a new vantage point to watch the world around them.
The number one reason dogs love Parkour: It’s Fun with Their Person!
Why People Love It
There are a lot of reasons why people love this sport as well. For one thing, it’s accessible. If you’re like many pet owners, you probably have great ambitions for your pup. You might imagine running an agility course or tracking a trail. But it’s difficult to know where to start and where to find all the materials. The great thing about Parkour is it can happen anywhere. The world is our course. You can even work on it from the comfort of home.
Similarly, Parkour is accessible for our pups. Dogs with special accommodations or who have a few years on them can still participate. It is a great introduction to dog sports for beginners of all shapes and sizes. You can even earn titles!
It also encourages our dogs to focus on us when we’re out and about, which can help with our regular obedience training as well.
How Everyone can Benefit
Parkour is a great way to grow your bond with your dog and begin to really feel like a team. Many dogs find confidence and focus during their Parkour journey as well.
One of the defining principles of Parkour is that it’s built to last. Because of this, special attention is put on safety and accommodations for our pups. This means that even my senior pup still loves participating in this sport. We actually still use several of the skills often! It’s a great way to keep her active and participating in exercises that strengthen and stretch her muscles. I’ll also use these cues at the vet for a fun break or as part of cooperative care. And, of course, it’s fun and a great way for us to spend time together!
Extra bonus: many of the cues make for great photos and videos.
If by now you’re wanting to learn more or get started on your own Parkour journey, we have you covered. Enlightened Hounds is hosting a four week Introduction to Parkour class this March. Reach out to get signed up or to learn more!