MORE THAN JUST A WALK: Adding enrichment to our outings.
More Than Just A Walk: How we add extra fun to our outings.
One of the best things about being a dog parent is going out for a walk, either from home or when we are away exploring new places, on our doggy holidays.
There is a limit to how much walking you can do to try and wear out your hyper dog, however. The more you exercise him the more he will expect!
Just Take Ten Minutes:
There is an answer; it is claimed that ten minutes of mental stimulation can work as well as a long walk to wear them out. Some of us have dogs with endless energy, and some that would sleep all day. Both of these can be symptoms of canine boredom, and while we don’t need to spend all day entertaining our furry companions, or stop them chilling out, a few minutes play here and there, or a few hours each week, can be lots of fun for both dogs and their people, with mental and physical health benefits all round.
There are lots of ways to build valuable bonding and training time into even a busy schedule, which will help to stimulate and tire your pooch as well as building on that unique bond.
Petal 'helping' her human brother with his physio after a knee op!
You can use bought or home made games; a loo roll with a treat twisted inside it is as much fun as a complex £20 puzzle. 'Guessing' which hand the treat is hidden in can work as well as learning a fancy new trick.
Apart from fun and games at home, Tati, Petal and Milo have taken part in Agility, Heelwork to Music (Doggy Dancing) Scent work and Canine Hoopers classes, over time. The most useful as far as our walks and travels goes, though, has been Parkour.
It's not quite like the TikTok videos of daredevils racing up vertical walls and jumping from roof to roof, you'll be glad to hear, but it can still be mentally challenging for our pups, and physically it can be tailored precisely to each dog.
According to Dog Parkour U.K., the organisation that oversees the sport:
" In parkour, dogs have lots of fun interacting with a wide variety of different obstacles. Almost any object can be used as long as it is safe. Dogs enjoy climbing, balancing, crawling and jumping as they navigate their way through the surrounding environment.
One of the fabulous aspects of dog parkour is that unlike many other dog sports, parkour does not require any specialised equipment. You can have fun with your dog using any safe objects which you will find at home, in your garden or out on your walks."
This is an ideal activity to use when exploring new places or old. It lends both a sense of familiarity to a nervous dog (like Milo!) and an extra touch of excitement (for Tati or Petal!).
In class or when training, the dog learns a series of moves or actions that can be utilised in either a built or a natural environment. It only takes a basic skill level to be able to do a '2-up' or a '4-up' on a found log or a bollard to pose for a gorgeous photo. This simply means putting up 2 or 4 paws on the object.
Dogs and handlers can advance to a high level and gain awards should they enjoy that. Parkour is an activity to enjoy for its own sake, of course, not just as a 'seasoning' for walks.
The dogs enjoying basic Parkour moves; straddle, 4-up and reversing up a slope.
Anywhere and Everywhere:
So wherever we go now, and especially when we need a gorgeous photo for our socials, we take our Parkour.
Are there lots of fallen trees and logs around us? Great. We don't just walk past nowadays. Instead we can get up on them, under them, between them and through the gaps.
Is there a park bench, or a bollard, or a playground? Great. We can use our imaginations to deploy our Parkour moves.
Visit DPUK; Dog Parkour UK, at https://www.dogparkouruk.com. They recommend a number of Facebook Groups, and they list their instructors so you can find a class convenient to you. You can, like us, just pick up the basics and enjoy socialising in class, or advance through various levels and even instruct yourself.
Images from DPUK; going 'Through' and supporting with harness
For us, Parkour is the perfect way to add some enrichment, fun and bonding to our walks from home and best of all, our adventures when we're on a doggy holiday.
It's at this time of year that we start to think about our holidays and need to find a great place to stay and book!
Let's UNLEASH some SERIOUS fun!