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Parkour Fun!

Over the last few weeks, my Golden retriever "Halo" and I have taken up the new sport of Dog Parkour -- urban agility. It's sooooo much fun!

We've done some training for agility, but I only have room in my yard for a few jumps and some weave poles, so we can't do the contact obstacles such as A-frames and teeter-totters. This is unfortunate, because although Halo's good at jumping and weaving, it's the contact obstacles that she really needs to practice on. I definitely don't have time to go and drive her to locations/facilities that have full courses available, because I'm so busy!

Parkour has opened up a whole new accessible world for us. Instead of having specific obstacles to train the dogs on, "the world is your obstacle course." You can use any obstacle, either natural or man-made, that you find in the environment. Trees, stumps, benches, playground equipment, other structures...your imagination is the only limit. (You do need to use good manners though, and not send your dog for example up onto a picnic table where people would want to eat.) Almost anything can be used as an obstacle!

To do Parkour, you teach your dog a set of generic commands that specify what the dog is actually to do with each obstacle:

1) "Over" : Jump over the obstacle
2) "2-on" : Put the two front feet on an obstacle
3) "4-on": Get all the way onto an obstacle
4) "Inside": Jump into an obstacle with four sides
5) "Around": Run to an obstacle, circle it, and return to handler
6) "Balance": Walk across a narrow obstacle, such as a balance beam
7) "Tic-tac": Take a running jump onto a vertical or 45-degree wall or other object, then richochet off it
8) "Through": Squeeze between two objects, or an object and a wall
9) "Gap jump" Jump from one obstacle to the next, without touching the ground.

There are a few more, but those are the basics. As you get better and better at it, the obstacles can get smaller, tighter, and more complex. The titling organization for Parkour is the International Dog Parkour Association, and you can submit for titles by video (hooray!) Titles start at Training Level and go all the way up to championship level.

We're having a blast!

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