Now that you are armed with safety knowledge, it's time to head outside armed with some high value treats! Good places to start looking for things to play on are parks, downtown areas, and college campuses. We try to avoid playgrounds as those were built for human children to enjoy. You can use them if they are empty, but otherwise, steer clear. We'd like to be able to train Dog Parkour for many years to come, so want to be very respectful while out training.
Take care to ensure that you only ask your dog to do what he is physically and mentally capable of performing. Let him go at his own pace and always give him the option of not doing something. For some dogs, they might jump right up on that funny-looking bench, while for other dogs, just approaching the scary bench is a worthwhile achievement. Let the dog make the choice to perform the behavior, and then reward. We prefer to use shaping techniques (rewarding for each successive step that is closer to the final goal), but will occasionally and carefully use luring to help a dog perform a specific behavior.
Your dog should always have the option of saying he isn't comfortable performing something; dogs should not be picked up and placed on obstacles. Also, if a dog looks at a tricky obstacle and eventually decides not to do it, reinforce the thought process that went into the effort; we like it when the dogs make a careful evaluation of their ability to safely perform an obstacle.
Also, take care to ensure that your dog is strong enough to safely perform the tasks we are asking him to do. Start with a visit to your veterinarian to ensure he is physically healthy and a good weight. Carrying around extra weight will cause additional stress and impact on his joints, so be sure to develop a healthy weight loss plan that involves diet and exercise prior to doing obstacles that require a great deal of strength or have impact such as jumps, tic tacs, narrow balances or things done at height.
Just because your dog is a great weight and healthy doesn't mean he is strong enough to be an expert parkour dog. Just like you might be healthy, but couldn't run a marathon without training.While you are out exploring, find ways to incorporate fitness exercises into your dog's training. There are many resources for this on the internet, but great places to start are with small versions of many parkour skills practiced in a slow and controlled way with several repetitions. If you have questions about fitness training, our Dog Parkour training group is a great place to get ideas!
If you've been training in Dog Parkour for a while and your dog has some impressive skills, it is important to remember to warm him up properly with a few repetitions of smaller, slower, simpler behaviors prior to working on the more complicated skills.