BARKOUR? Use the Environment to Build Your Dog’s Fitness and Agility and Make Training Easier | Lifestyles

Is exercising and training your dog boring? You are not a jogger or a cyclist? You don’t have to be an athlete (or at least not a lot) to make exercising your dog fun for both of you.

Parkour, for humans or dogs, is a kind of environmental agility course. Some parkour activities can be physically and mentally challenging, but at its simplest, consider jumping over a puddle, balancing on a sidewalk, or climbing a large fallen tree on a hiking trail. This type of activity can improve your dog’s walks, or even play indoors in bad weather. Instead, use sofas, stepladders and ladders. “Barkour” can benefit dogs of all ages and abilities, helping them learn or maintain ways to move around their world.

I have small dogs, but it has always been important to me that they are both fearless and fit. During walks, we practice balance by walking on or on sidewalks. At the puddles, we start to run and jump over them together. During the hikes, we climb on rocks or logs. In a mall or at the beach, they can jump on a bench and walk across it; dogs that engage in this particular activity should be healthy (no heart disease or arthritis, for example) and built to jump (avoid it with long, low dogs that could injure their backs). Lift small dogs to avoid injury. Having dogs place their paws on a large rock or wall provides a great stretch.

Parkour involves many types of movement. Linda Rehkopf’s Labradors practice walking backwards on a hill or slope. Walking backwards is important to a dog’s sense of proprioception, and it is something he can do indoors or outdoors.

Some dogs develop their own parkour program. Susan Rosenau’s Boston Terrier Ruth loves chasing a Chuckit ball in the yard. “She makes it more aerobic by jumping up and down the different levels of the landscaping and doing the long way to me,” says Rosenau.

Rocks, stumps or steps in front of people’s homes are all good for jumping, swinging and sitting, says Linda Lombardi, who uses obstacles to exercise her Momo pug.

Just like you would have one for you at the gym, be an observer for your dog, especially if he is jumping over a narrow wall, pillar, or other object. Knowing that you are supporting her is important for her safety and confidence.

What about training? When working with small dogs like my riders, it can sometimes be difficult to get their attention when they are so low to the ground. Having the Harper puppy walk along the wall surrounding our complex made it easier for him to see when I asked him to do something, plus it was a good balance practice.

Outdoor environments with other people provide opportunities to teach dogs how to work through distractions. To teach this to his Bernese Mountain Dog Granate, who was learning to pull a cart, Adam Conn trained in a public park near the busy playground. Eliza Rubenstein’s Australian Shepherd, Carter, recently practiced long stays during a boisterous quinceanera – a popular celebration of the girls’ 15th birthday.

For more information or to level up and earn titles, contact the International Dog Parkour Association ( Earning a title is as easy as submitting a video of your dog successfully and safely performing a list of actions, such as jumping over an obstacle higher than the dog’s elbow height; cross an obstacle the width of which does not exceed the width of the dog’s shoulders and at least the height of the elbows without descending and ascending; go back three steps on level ground; and walk between two obstacles. Start with the training level and see how far you and your dog can go.

What is OK for playing with cats?

Q: What are the best cat toys?

A: A better question might be: what are not the best cat toys?

Our felines are smart and creative when it comes to playing with them. Some items are at the top of their favorites list, while others they like are to be avoided. Here’s what to consider.

Cats love anything that challenges their balance and mobility, boosts their innate hunting prowess, or involves chasing and climbing, to name a few of their favorite things. A fishing rod toy or large peacock feather is great for encouraging feline acrobats to spin and jump. Drag it across the ground for a movement from behind and a chase and leap action – it’s all part of the hunting process. This type of toy will keep kittens and even older cats entertained and intrigued. Just be sure to put it away when you’re done so your cat doesn’t swallow the string.

Other feline favorites include winding or electronic toys that move, toys filled with catnip, and toys that squeak when jumped on. Some cats like small balls or feathered objects connected to a spring support around which they can hit.

Roll a small ball down the hall and watch your cat run away at high speed. Rolling it on a hard surface like wood or tile is even better as it adds sound to the game.

A ball inside a circular plastic track – some with multiple levels of tracks – develops good motor skills when kittens or cats reach inside to hit the ball.

Choose toys made especially for cats, as they are less likely to have small parts that can be bitten and swallowed. Avoid letting cats play with string, rope, thread or wire, which can be fatal if swallowed. – Dr Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker

Do you have a question about pets? Send it to [email protected] or visit

Lizards also need dental care

• When Rex’s owners noticed that he wasn’t eating or drinking a lot and that he seemed lethargic, they got worried. An examination by specialist vets revealed that Rex had severe inflammation inside his mouth, receding gums and a large amount of tartar. A course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, plus two months of supportive care and changes in his home care, improved his health enough for him to have a dental cleaning. Rex is not a dog, but a 5-year-old bearded dragon, and he was treated by veterinarians David Guzman and Paula Rodriguez of the Companion Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery Service at the University of California at Davis. Bearded dragons are among the acrodontically toothed lizards, which means their teeth have no roots or pockets and are fused to the jawbone. Rex has recovered well and is now displaying his healthy pearly whites.

• English Cocker Spaniel Rocco was hired to sniff whiskey casks for a living. The specially trained dog works for Grant’s Whiskey in Scotland, where his job is to ‘sniff’ wooden casks containing maturing whiskey and ensure that no imperfections in the casks affect the liquid gold as it grows. ‘he is getting older. Fittingly, Rocco reports to Global Brand Associate Director Chris Wooff. “Rocco’s ability to ‘smell’ a very large number of casks in a short period of time means he is a fantastic addition to our team of craftsmen,” Wooff told Scotland’s Daily Record.

• You don’t need to be covered by Nationwide’s pet health insurance to sign up for its telematics service, which is made up of veterinary professionals who can answer questions and help you decide if your pet’s problem is urgent. or can wait until you can enter to see your regular vet. That’s less than $ 10 per month for a one-year subscription. Find it in the Apple or Android app stores under “Nationwide Vet Helpline”. – Dr Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts led by “Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many bestselling books on pet care. to pets, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell. Thornton. Join them, Mikkel Becker, behavior consultant and head animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found on or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is on and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is on and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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