Now the storms of Eunice and Franklin have passed we can start looking ahead to Spring and Summer and what we might be doing with our Dogs!!
There are so many brilliant dog activities and sports now and many are well suited for dogs of all breed types, various ages, abilities etc plus many have options for Senior dogs or dogs with health issues and injury which makes the activity even more exclusive!
Let’s have a look at some of the Dog Activities found in UK – this is Part One of a Series!
Still a relatively new dog sport which originated as a separate category for agility in USA then became a sport of it’s own in UK about 3 years ago which was designed to provide something with low or no impact or sharp turns for dogs who couldn’t do high intensity sports like agility or flyball.
A series of stand alone Hoops, Tunnels, Barrels and Touch n Go Mats create courses for dogs to navigate with their handlers’ cues. Dogs go through Hoops and Tunnels, around Barrels and across the Touch n Go Mats.
Initially there are skills for dogs to learn, such as understanding that on seeing a stand alone hoop they should try going through it for the reward afterwards, how to turn left and right, going around the barrels and across the mat etc and dogs can start these skills as puppies. To compete dogs do need to be over 12 months at least.
Without the need for jumping, sharp side to side movements or tight turns Hoopers is very suitable for many Senior Dogs as well as for dogs of all ages who may have mobility issues or illness that may affect their movement or balance.
There are numerous Canine Hoopers organisations around the UK, all with similar equipment and styles but with their own awards schemes or fun ways to test handler and dog teams. There are in-person Competitions all over the UK as well as several online Hoopers Competitions if you wish to have more goals to aim for.
We run Hoopers training most months with our Monthly Advanced Group plus have Intro and Follow Up Sessions running as well.
Also known as Urban Agility, Parkour for Dogs is an activity that involves using the immediate environment to help our dogs work on various exercises such as Paws Up on an Item, Going Around, Under, Between, Creativity with Items and much more.
Interactions with items can be natural or man made – tree stumps and rocks or garden furniture and tractor tyres are just some examples! You can find inspiration almost anywhere and the main skills with Canine Parkour are deciding what your dog can do with an item or items!!
You can start introducing young dogs to Parkour Exercises as many are also good for confidence building, balance and coordination and with Parkour having such high safety protocols it’s a great way to bond with your dog! Exercises such as Front Paws Up, Four Paws On, Go Round, Between, Go Under or Get In can be started with young dogs plus can be really fun for older dogs or dogs with joint issues or mobility problems.
For more advanced challenges there are exercises such as Straddle, Side Pass, Tic Tacs, Walk Between Two Items Backwards, Crawl Under Low Item and more!
Creativity Exercises ask for handler and dog teams to work with an item or obstacle and try to see how many different exercises they can do with it. EG a tree stump you may be able to send your dog around, front paws up and then get on the top and pause.
Part of Safety with Canine Parkour involves the use of a well fitting harness with rear fastening for the lead alongside ‘spotting’ which is where we are prepared in case our dog slips or goes to jump off something off the ground and we will be ready to use the lead and harness to slowly lower to the ground or we can catch then to avoid landing heavily.
Parkour is really fun to do just at home and on walks, or to meet with a friend and their dog and try some challenges together! But if you wanted to have some goals to work towards there are many online Canine Parkour Titling options. Parkour has several organisations around the world including in the UK, plus IDPKA (International Dog Parkour Association) runs lots of online title opportunities. To take part you just need to film you and your dog taking part in the right number of exercises, showing that you can help your dog avoid injury, and have fun at the same time!
We are looking forward to more Parkour this year after several months without running any! We have a mixed level Parkour session Saturday 26th February 2022 in the afternoon and will have many more coming in the Spring and Summertime!!
If you haven’t heard of Treibball before then you are in for a treat!
Originally created in Germany, Treibball (pronounced Try-Ball) pretty much means ‘Drifting Ball’ – this activity involves handlers working on various skills to build up to sending their dog out towards large inflatable balls, going around to the far side and pushing the ball towards their handler and into a goal.
Perfect for herding and chasing type breeds but also widely enjoyed by all other breed types as well! The skills used in Treibball include sending to a ground target on cue, nose targets, going around an item clockwise and anti clockwise on cue, then also around a static ball, then building to adding distance and being able to move from their handler around the back of a ball 5ft away to push towards the goal! It takes time to work on the skills and there are extra stages for dogs who find the inflatable balls too exciting at the beginning!
Starting out with Treibball Skills dogs can be from almost any age as there are no sharp turns, no repetitive impact on the body or moves that might put a puppy at risk, as well as not being too hard on a Senior dog’s body either! You don’t need a high level of obedience training but being able to focus on learning something new and not be unnerved by the balls moving etc would be advantageous.
Although there are not many Treibball Competitions in the UK there are ways of enjoying the sport with your dog if you are looking for more challenges via online training. NATE (National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts) run Skills Certification, Video Titles, Competitions etc.
Treibball has 5 types of Treibball, from Standard to Pairs and Urban Handling plus 6 dog size classes and 4 levels from Novice to Expert.
We are looking forward to running several Treibball Training Workshops in Spring and Summer!
Heelwork to Music / Musical Freestyle:
Also known as Dancing with Dogs or Doggy Dancing!
Heelwork to Music is fun we can have with our dogs that can help with increasing focus, confidence and our bond.
It involves teaching our dogs to move with us at various Heel positions next to us or across us as well as a host of actions, poses and manoeuvres. Many of these are also known as Tricks and you might be surprised at what your dog may already know that can be used for HTM!
Heelwork to Music is incredibly inclusive in that you choose what music and content suits you and your dog the most! If your dog enjoys training but is a little slower in movement then choose a slower piece of music and stick to moves they enjoy. If your dog is fast paced and loves to run, jump etc then a more dynamic piece of music would work well and include some active tricks that show off your dog’s physical abilities! Smaller dogs don’t need to try to do actions that bigger dogs might find easy, and larger dogs don’t have to do poses that a small dog can do without any difficulty!
When working on HTM you can use any space to teach your dog moves, actions, heel position etc and even practise on your walks! Once you have some good individual exercises you look at linking them together to create mini routines and piece them together to make the full routine for displays, competition or to show to family and friends!
Many foundations can be started with dogs while they are puppies and continue right through into Senior years. Competition can be started at 12 months for Heelwork to Music classes and 18 months for Freestyle classes which include a little more movement and content.
Competitions can be found all around the country plus there are some online video competitions taking place that you can take part in too!
Our HTM Workshop last weekend was a fab mix of breeds and ages and the dogs excelled themselves with the types of moves and poses they worked on! We have an album coming on our Dog Training for Essex & Suffolk fb page!
HTM is popular for Dog Shows and Village Fetes as entertainment – we love doing this at shows!!