If you have ever watched the TV show The Office, you may remember an episode where Michael, Dwight, and Andy try their skills at Parkour. In this clip, the three office members make their way through the office in the most creative ways possible while yelling “PARKOUR!” as they complete each obstacle. They flip onto couches, jump over tables, walk across desks, and donkey-kick doors, all in the name of “PARKOUR!” The scene ends with the trio standing on a truck trailer discussing how they are going to get from the trailer to a trash bin, with several obstacles along the way. Andy jumps to the first obstacle (a refrigerator box) and… crashes through the top of the box, presumably landing on the ground inside. He says a final, feeble “parkour,” which we can assume means he did not stick the landing as hoped.
What is Parkour?
Parkour is a sport in which participants navigate their way from point A to point B in the fastest, most efficient way possible. This includes running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, and balancing over, around, and on obstacles in the environment. Parkour comes from the French word parcours which means “the way through” or “the path” and has its roots in military obstacle course training and martial arts.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, videos of people practicing Parkour surfaced on the internet and it immediately became an internet sensation. There were TV shows and documentaries created to show the incredible amount of skill, speed, agility, and strength of these traceurs (parkour practitioners). While this may have been the public’s first-time hearing of Parkour, the sport has actually been around since the 1970s and 1980s. Through the help of the internet and being featured in movies, Parkour became a captivating sport for many people!
What is Dog Parkour?
Dog Parkour, also called urban agility, is an activity based off of the same principles as human Parkour. In Dog Parkour, the dog and handler teams navigate their environment and use whatever obstacles are in their path. It can include running, jumping, balancing, weaving, and climbing. Obstacles can range from park benches and dog-friendly playgrounds to tree stumps, logs, and rocks. Creativity is key!
Dog Parkour is an excellent activity that challenges the dog physically, while refining their balance, hind-end awareness, and mental focus. Another important aspect of Dog Parkour is that it teaches the dog to interact with their environment and helps build confidence. If your dog is shy or sensitive, Parkour may be a great way to help them become more comfortable with their environment in a fun, low-pressure way. On the flip side, if your dog is more exuberant, Parkour can help teach them self-control and mental focus, such as learning to interact with an obstacle when given a cue. This is especially important when there may be obstacles you do NOT want your dog to interact with such as a rock surrounded by poison ivy, or a rock wall with exposed barbed wire (a common occurrence here in New England).
As Dog Parkour has risen in popularity, the International Dog Parkour Association was established in 2014 to help dog guardians get started in the sport. Their website contains information on Dog Parkour, rules, and safety considerations. They also offer a titling program for those teams who enjoy working towards specific goals. While not mandatory, our Dog Parkour class is structured to give you and your dog the skills to work towards the Novice Level title, if you choose to do so.
The best part about Dog Parkour is that you don’t need any expensive equipment to participate! The only things you need are: a sturdy back-clip harness, a 4-6 ft leash, your dog’s favorite treats, and some creativity. Safe participation is extremely important as well, so knowing your dog’s strengths, limitations, and how to teach them these skills safely is our top priority. After all, we don’t want your dog to end up like Andy!
Ready to join in on the fun? Join us this Summer as we enjoy the outdoors with our dogs and practice Doggy Parkour!