Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dog Parkour (Urban Agility): What is it and why should we join class?

What is dog parkour (Urban agility)?

Parkour is a physical discipline in which individuals move through their environment and conquer obstacles in their path. It includes climbing, balancing, jumping, running, vaulting, creativity and working past fear. So what is dog parkour? Dog parkour, sometimes known as urban agility, is an activity based on the same principles. It is a challenging but fun physical activity in which the dogs learn to interact with their environment. Just like in the human version, in dog parkour class we work on ways to conquer obstacles, such as climbing, balancing, and jumping.

What do we do?
This class is always different! We meet at different parks every week and focus on different skills depending on the setup of the park.  Skills learned may include balancing on logs, walls, rocks, or benches, jumping over objects, standing or placing two paws on objects that move,  going under, around or climbing on objects. What we do varies each week and is tailored to the needs of the individual dogs in the class.
What dogs and handlers this class best suitable for?

Dogs should have basic obedience skills such as sit, down, walking on leash and something resembling a recall.  Taking at least one basic obedience class before coming to dog parkour is highly recommended. Keep in mind classes are held in a park setting, so there may be other dogs, running children, bikes or other distractions present. This is a great opportunity to work with distractions around, but the environment may be too over stimulating for some dogs.  

Dogs should be in good health and able to perform simple physical skills such as climbing stairs and going on ½ - 1 mile walks. Class is tailored to each dog, so old dogs, young dogs, and dogs with physical limitations are welcome to come play too!

Class moves around a lot, so handlers will need to be able to walk ½ - 1 mile. Some bending and kneeling may be needed in order to teach your dog specific skills (Handlers we can tailor class to your physical needs too! And don’t worry you don’t have to do parkour in this class).

Why will my dog benefit?
You and your dog will have the opportunity to work as a team and have fun in a new and sometimes difficult environment. Interacting with the environment will increase your dog’s confidence, ability to problem solve, and ability to work with distractions present. This class is a great foundation for agility or other dogs sports and is also an excellent way to work on things such as teeter fears outside of agility class. It can be a physically and mentally demanding activity, so is excellent for conditioning (and wearing out!) your dog. It is also a  fun activity to do with your dog without the pressure that comes with some competitive sports.

Who teaches it?

Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis DVM teach dog parkour. They are the founders of Adventure Unleashed, and the Ohio 4-H Dog Experience, an overnight camp for teens and their dogs. In addition to running dog camp and teaching for seven years they have also both been training for parkour for 2 ½ years, giving them what they like to call “parkour vision,” seeing creative ways to use their environment that they didn’t realize before being introduced to parkour!