Getting Sporty

In Inspiration, Learning

August 29, 2023

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Over the past couple of years I’ve been exploring different types of classes with my dog Gibson. As a herding dog, Gibson has a seemingly limitless supply of energy, and one way we’ve been incorporating enrichment into his life is through learning dog sports. After taking several training classes – and learning that Gibson would not be a candidate for agility – we sought different sports for him to try.

First we took several months of scent work classes, where he would search for a target odor either concealed in a container or in an indoor for outdoor location. Next we began to explore learning tricks with his new trainer. Gibson spins (and twirls) like a pro, waves hello, is learning to put his toys back in a box along with the more common tricks like “high five”, shake hands and roll over.

More recently we’ve begun learning Dog Parkour where we can do all sorts of fun things on his walk like jumping on and off of things, walking around an obstacle, stepping on things with two paws, going under or over something along with learning to balance by walking along different types of obstacles.

Dog parkour combines elements of human parkour and dog agility to create an accessible activity for dogs and humans alike. Dogs get introduced to the world of jumping, climbing, balancing over, crawling under, and going around different obstacles in their everyday world. Parkour can be done anywhere and is limited only by one’s imagination. Dog parkour helps with confidence and overcoming fears, and it is a low impact but challenging activity for any canine athlete.

– International Dog Parkour Association

Not only am I working with Gibson to learn Dog Parkour moves for our walks, I’ve had the opportunity to capture a few events for Gibson’s trainer, including photographing Dog Parkour.

Now over the years, I’ve captured my pets–and those of friends and family–in plenty of different scenarios. I’m confident in my portrait taking skills, but this was the first time I photographed dog sports professionally. I found that fun and rewarding, and tricky and technical.

First of all, I had to learn the moves that would be most wanted while capturing Dog Parkour. I knew some of the basics, but discovered the world of receiving titles for different levels of parkour. Luckily one of my dog park friends, Erin, is also learning parkour with her dog Kuma and was one of my subjects at the events.

For the Training Level Title the moves (according to the International Dog Parkour Association) are:

Four Feet On something

Dog approaches an obstacle and places all four feet in no particular order onto the obstacle in a safe manner and remains on the obstacle for at least 5 seconds.

Two feet On something

Dog walks up to obstacle and places two front feet feet onto the obstacle and remains on the obstacle for at least 5 seconds. The object must be at least elbow height.

There’s climbing Under something

Dog crouches down and passes under an obstacle shorter than head height. – International Dog Parkour Association

Walking Through two obstacles

Two obstacles must be less than dog’s body length apart from each other. The dog must pass through these two obstacles with confidence. – International Dog Parkour Association

Standing In something

Dog must safely walk into or hop into an obstacle that has four sides. All four feet must remain in the obstacle for 5 seconds. – International Dog Parkour Association

Balanc(e)ing on something

Balance across an obstacle that is twice shoulder width or narrower and 3 times longer than dog. Dog must have all four feet on obstacle and safely walk across it.

There is also Creativity where the owner/dog duo combine two of the moves together. As the Title leves progress, the parkour moves get more complex. As you can see, Kuma and Erin have definitely perfected their beginner moves!

Although I knew what to do while capturing dog sports, I found that my fast action photography skills were a little rusty and had to bump my shutter speed quickly to below at least 1/640th of a second to avoid motion blur, and even that was pretty slow!

I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to capture – and practice – more Dog Parkour moves in the future. In the meantime, it’s been fun learning all about the sport. Perhaps Gibson and I will be sending in videos to get our Titles too!

Until next time,
Holly ~ Soupatraveler

ps. If you like podcasts or have any questions about “Living with Pets” (not just dogs!), Gibson’s trainor is live on Germantown Radio and takes question to answer live on the air. You can submit a question by phone or on her Facebook page.


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