With so many dog sports out there, it can be hard to decide which one to pursue. You may have seen videos online (see links below), know someone who competes, or even taken a class yourself. Practicing a canine sport gives you and your dog a chance to spend quality time together while building skills that can help your pup develop better manners in real life. Even if your dog isn’t natural athlete, there may be a sport to suit him. See which of the sports below is right for your Rover.
Agility involves the dog running a course of obstacles, including jumps, tunnels, weave poles, a teeter-totter and more. It is an ideal outlet for many active dogs, as it burns both mental and physical energy. Nervous dogs can build confidence by first practicing the foundation activities and slowly building upon them, and the teamwork necessary for Agility lets a skittish dog learn to trust his handler. As each obstacle requires the dog to pay attention both to you and to his surroundings, dogs who lack focus or are excitable can learn to channel their energy on a fun task.
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For many dogs, a routine walk just doesn’t cut it; they pull and lunge at everything that interests them on the sidewalk, and even after the walk, they seem to have plenty of energy to burn. Can you blame them? How boring it must for a dog to go around the same block, day after day, peeing on the same unfortunate shrub and getting stink-eye from the same belligerent squirrel. Rather than walk longer, it’s time to walk smarter by incorporating dog parkour into your excursions outdoors.
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Bored with the same old walk around the block? Turn your surroundings into a doggie playground! Parkour is a fun way to to burn your dog’s energy and teach polite leash walking skills. Read my full article here at petguide.com to learn what Dog Parkour is all about and how to get started.
Dog Parkour is a sport I've just started to dabble in with my two Chihuahua-ish mixes, Batman and Beans. For me, the appeal of Parkour is its flexibility. While other sports require a large open space and/or specific equipment (for instance, Agility jumps and tunnels), Parkour can be done anywhere, even in your living room, and the equipment consists of the "environmental features" that naturally occur there. The two Dog Parkour titling organizations allow you to earn titles by submitting videos of your dog performing certain exercises with these environmental features, such as putting two paws on a tree stump or jumping inside a cardboard box. That means no traveling to trials, plus as many do-overs as you want until you get just the right take. The organization All Dogs Parkour has very flexible requirements for earning titles, so even a 14-year-old tiny tyrant like Batman can find enough exercises that fit his abilities. The other, more established (meaning, created in 2014) organization is International Dog Parkour Association, which has stricter criteria for titling submissions.
Below are two videos. The first is Batman's Level 1 submission for All Dogs Parkour. You can see how easy it is. (Please don't judge too harshly... this was the first time we'd tried these exercises!) The second video is a Level 5 Grand Champion submission by trainer Kristine Hammar and her fantastic dog Tessa. You'll see that, even at the highest levels, Dog Parkour is all about interacting with the environment safely.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, and award-winning author in Brooklyn, NY with Doggie Academy and in Southbury, CT.