Parkour Dog 1 Level 1 Foundations

In Parkour Level 1 we are going to start with some foundation skills.  With each new skill, we are going to show you how to train it, how to increase the difficulty as your dog gains confidence, and how to handicap the skill for puppies under 18-months and senior dogs or dogs with limited mobility.  We will also explain the various fitness benefits of each skill.


2-Paws

This is probably the most important skill to teach your dog because it allows them to explore each new object with confidence.  I often cue my dogs to do a 2-paws on a new object that I intend to have them fully jump up on to.  This is so that they can become familiar with the height, size, texture, and stability of an object before throwing their entire weight onto it.

2-paws– the dog places its front paws on an object.  Your goal in level 1 is to practice 2-paws on different objects inside and outside of your home.  Try to keep the objects small enough that your dog doesn’t try to get all the way up onto them.  Be sure to refer to the downloadable checklist at the bottom of this page in the downloads section so you can track your dog’s progress.  Remember that our goal is not to only perform a task just once, in Parkour the goal is to successfully perform each task multiple times.  Also, be sure to focus on using your cue if you decide to submit for a title you will need to cue your dog to get on, wait, and then off of the object before you can give them a reward for doing so.

Fitness benefit: Dog’s are front end drive animals meaning they carry 60% of their body weight in the front end and that’s where all their momentum comes from.  By having our dog’s practice elevating their front end it shifts the weight back to their rear end and engages the rear end muscles.  This is a great skill for building rear end awareness and strengthening the rear end.  Always start on low and stable surfaces.  As your dog’s confidence increases you raise criteria by aiming for higher objects or unstable objects such as pillows or wobble boards.

Spotting example: 2-paws doesn’t require spotting too often but I would err on the side of caution by spotting with a tight leash if the dog is climbing off of an object above shoulder height, and especially on a hard surface.  This is to prevent a high impact on the ankle, elbow, and shoulder joints.


Up

Teaching your dog to confidently get onto and off of objects is an extremely important part of parkour.  This is good for teaching balance and building confidence as well as slowing down the high-speed high-intensity dogs.  Teaching dogs to get off of large objects thoughtfully, vs launching off of them, will prolong your dog’s joint health.

Up– the dog gets up onto an object with all 4 paws.  Your goal in level 1 is to practice up with different objects inside and outside of the home.  Be sure to use objects that are big enough for your dog to easily fit on and that is not taller than their shoulder height.  Be sure to refer to the downloadable checklist at the bottom of this page in the downloads section so you can track your dog’s progress.  Remember that our goal is not to only perform a task just once, in Parkour the goal is to successfully perform each task multiple times.  Also, be sure to focus on using your cue if you decide to submit for a title you will need to cue your dog to get on, wait, and then off of the object before you can give them a reward for doing so.

Fitness Benefit: Getting up on objects improves proprioception by making your dog more aware of their size.  It also increases their ability to balance on various objects.  Start with low stable objects then increase the height, size, texture, and stability as your dog improves their confidence.  Teaching them how to safely get off of an object can also improve their thoughtfullness in regards to their own bodies.

Spotting Example: In this first video, you will see 3 examples of practicing up.  While they all qualified for a title I would prefer to have a little less slack in the leash, at least after he makes the landing.  In the first of the 3 he is jumping off onto a soft substrate (grass), I spot him only by applying slight tension in the leash before he lands.  The other 2 he is surrounded by hard substrate so I do an assisted lift-off to prevent injury.

In the second video, you can see that when he is jumping onto the object I am spotting him better with the leash in the first video.  I also do an assisted lift-off here as the wood decking is hard and wet.

 


Balance

Teaching your dog to confidently balance their weight is extremely important in parkour.  With this specific skill, we are focusing on the up aspect as well as walking along a raised surface.  Later you can even work up to doing a full 180-degree turn while on a raised narrow object.

Balance/Walk on– The dog gets up onto an object and walks 3 body lengths along the object.  In level 1, focus on getting your dog onto an object, having them wait before walking them across (you can use a hand signal as a guide) and then wait again prior to getting off the object.  Be sure to refer to the downloadable checklist at the bottom of this page in the downloads section so you can track your dog’s progress.  Remember that our goal is not to only perform a task just once, in Parkour the goal is to successfully perform each task multiple times.  Also, be sure to focus on using your cue if you decide to submit for a title you will need to cue your dog to get on, wait, and then off of the object before you can give them a reward for doing so.  I encourage you to practice on different sized and textured items, ideally objects that are below shoulder height.

Fitness Benefit: Balance is a huge part of proprioception training and increases confidence tremendously.  As your dog increases their confidence you can raise criteria by changing the height, size, texture, and stability of the objects.  Always be ready to spot your dog.

Spotting Example: Here is an example of Jude and I working balance and a slippery bench.  Take note of how I am holding the leash and standing next to him- this is how spotting should look when you are working on balance.  I am also guiding him with my free hand which helps him move at my pace and remain attentive to me- this is great teamwork.  In the end, I do an assisted lift-off because the bench is shoulder height and the soft substrate (grass) landing is pretty narrow between the concrete and bumper.

Under– the dog goes under an object.  This week focus on going under objects that are at the maximum head height and a minimum shoulder height of your dog.

Click the pictures below to download a pdf version of each skills lesson plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to download this lesson, complete with video links, so that you may keep it for your records, once the course is over you will no longer have access to them. Lesson 1 PDF

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