Canine urban agility, also known as Doggy Parkour, is a really fun way of exercising your dog while you are out on a walk. I know how boring it gets, just following behind your dog, while she stops to sniff at every lamppost and every tree. So here’s what I did with Donna :P
We discovered the Urban Agility Challenge for dogs or Doggy Parkour sometime in March-April 2013.
What is Urban Agility?
Urban Agility is a method of exercising your dog using public structural components and park furniture. Training with your dog to sit, trot along or jump over obstacles found in the urban environment helps with improving the dog’s agility and providing positive mental stimulation for the dog. When trained positively, the dog should gain greater confidence with navigating these obstacles. Conversely, a bad experience such as suffering a fall can possibly take away a dog’s confidence and engender fear.
So get your treats out when you are ready to head out with dog, and intersperse those sniffing sessions with short sessions of getting dog to climb, jump, trot or stay on obstacles. It helps you help your dog practise those everyday cues and behaviours without taking extra time out of your busy schedule. ;)
Regular practise makes perfect, and very soon you’ll have a great dog with a great stay, and listens to cues and sits perfectly for photos!
Remember, the outside is always more exciting and distracting because poor dog spends most of her time indoors. Just keep those yummy treats coming so dog stays interested, rather than gets frustrated or bored, yah? ;)
Easy items to start with:
Jumping on and sitting/standing on obstacles
When I first started, Donna did not understand why the human kept jumping onto things and urging Donna to join in. Donna preferred to be sniffing somewhere else, and sometimes tried to tell the human that by sitting towards the direction she wanted to go. Haha!
From having her feet firmly on the ground to climbing large landscape rocks with human
But slowly, she got the hang of it.
She could be rather skittish at times, so it was important for me to understand from her point of view that anything potentially “unstable” will diminish her confidence and make her reluctant to try.
We found park stools to be a great piece of urban obstacle for our use. :) We practiced on park stools that have a wide enough base for her to stand and sit comfortably, and a low enough height that she can jump and land on for sure.
These are solidly anchored to the ground so she became very comfortably on them.
Staying on anything required the dog to be mentally focused. Practicing this over a consistent period of time helped a lot to reinforce Donna’s resistance to distractions. :D Like this cat for example:
Donna happily ignores the cat
Trotting along urban obstacles
The next step was to get her comfortable with trotting along the stools.
Not so reliable then :P
And when she started trotting along the park stools reliably, we started doing short laps where she hopped along three stools, hopped off and ran to hop along the next three stools.
Kind of difficult to take photos or video when human is running with her so here’s an illustration.
Most recently, I added a nearby fitness corner balancing bar to the route. It takes her some concentration to walk along the narrow beam. Eventually, when she is more reliable at it I should be able to take a video. :D
But what if you don’t live near a park?
Discover urban obstacles in your everyday environment
In our case, we live in a highly landscaped town so keeping our eyes peeled helped us find some obstacles to try out when walking around our town.
Sit-stay or Stand-stay on Urban Obstacles
Like this little stone mushroom with it’s curved surface. I like that it challenged Donna to really balance on something that isn’t flat.
It helped to have a friend. We have been doing a couple of night walks with Mango the Sheltie. Mango’s human pointed out this concrete block that I had ignore every time I walk down this street.
Seats two comfortably :D
Having a friend makes it more fun! :P
These two structures – the mushroom and the concrete block – are actually pretty nearby each other. So tonight’s walk saw Donna having to do laps between them. :P
Trotting along urban obstacles
Since Donna is very comfortable with flat surfaces, I’ve been meaning to get her to work on her balancing using irregular and smaller surfaces. These ornamental rocks come in handy. I like that they are low in height so Donna will not hurt herself if she falls or stumbles.
Jumping is also a component of doggy parkour. And this can easily be taught at one of the neighbourhood fitness corners with this equipment… whatever it’s called :P
Whaddya mean jump, human?
At first, Donna couldn’t figure out “jump”. She preferred to help herself over the bar by climbing up and down the bar. Haha!
A video shared by 1stworlddog, Bodhi helped alot! I can’t find the link anymore, but the concept is very simple.
Simple throw the treat to the other side of the bar from which the dog is on and the dog will naturally jump over the bar to get to the food. Remember to say “jump” and mark either with a clicker or with a word that you use consistently, like “Yes”.
I started training Donna following the video exactly. She knows the word “jump” now so I no longer do that. I treat after she jumps.
But tonight for this video, this was what we were doing :P
So yup, that’s a quick roundup of our super amateurish doggy parkouring :P
Some serious parkour action… and I mean Serious.
Some of us follow Jaymi Heimbuch and her dog Niner on Instagram. We’ve mostly seen pictures, so here’s a great video that gives us some behind the scenes ;P
If you want to see a dog with real parkour chops, you gotta check out TreT in this video:
Last but not least
When having fun with dog on an urban walk, it’s also good to remember:
– Urban dog etiquette
– Only attempt what is safe for your dog’s health, size, fitness and confidence level
– Always pay close attention to what your dog is telling you, some dogs may not be comfortable with certain platforms that they perceive as unstable.
– Reward your dog and make it fun.
For more local doggy parkour action, check out lifewithlycanlexie.