Friday, April 4, 2014

Dog Parkour Safety

It is our favorite time of the year again, Outdoor Dog Parkour time! Like any sport or activity Dog Parkour has its risks. These risks can be minimized by following a few basics guidelines.

Harnesses: Proper equipment is key! All dogs in our outdoor classes wear harness that clip on the back. Harnesses help people spot their dog, but they also mean that if a dog ever slips the pressure from the leash is spread throughout the dog’s body instead of just their neck.

Spotting: Always be ready to catch or assist your dog! Before you teach your dog any parkour skills teach him to be comfortable being handled, picked up and helped.

Shoulder Height Rule: Dogs should only be jumping down from objects as high as their shoulders. This is ESPECIALLY important on concrete! Jumping down is a lot of impact on the dogs body and can lead to injuries. Before you ask your dog to jump up on something more than shoulder height, make sure they have a safe way to get down. This may be a shorter drop elsewhere, or you picking him up. Dogs with long backs, young or old dogs, or dogs with predisposition for musculoskeletal injuries should be limited to even smaller drops.

Weather: This isn’t often a huge concern in the spring (although the rain does make surfaces extra slippery) but as the weather starts to warm into summer, be conscious of the heat and sun. Be sure your dog (and you!) remain well hydrated and remember that black or shiny surfaces get hotter MUCH faster than others. If the surface is too hot for you to walk on without shoes, it’s too hot for your dog.

Inspecting obstacles: It is your job to keep your dog safe! Before you ask your dog to do anything, check to make sure it is safe. Look for rust, nails, sharp edges, broken objects, glass or anything that may hurt your dog. Make sure the object you are asking your dog to interact with is sturdy and safe.

Let your Dog Choose: Parkour should ALWAYS be your dogs choice. Encourage your dog, but never force him to do anything. As your dog gets more confident with parkour be sure to teach and allow “intelligent disobedience”. The best trained dog is the one that does everything you ask within his physical limits. Any time your dog evaluates an obstacle and decides he can’t perform it, be sure to reinforce that decision. If you truly believe that it is close to your dog’s limits, come back to the obstacle at a later time and you might find that your dog’s confidence has increased.

With these tips in mind, you and your dog are on your way to SAFELY enjoying outdoor parkour!