Another demonstration was with a horse lead and two partners; I was quick to volunteer myself to work with Alex. I held the lead in my hands, out in front of my chest as Alex held the very opposite end, about 4-5 feet away from me, facing me. She asked me to close my eyes and grip as tightly as possible, letting her know when I could feel movement in the lead. I closed my eyes and I focused my attention on the lead, waiting to feel movement as I held on with white knuckles. Moments passed and the arena was silent. Finally I felt movement and I opened my eyes to see Alex gripping the lead less than one foot away from my hands. I was shocked! How had I not felt that movement?! I was so focused!

She moved back down the lead and asked me to repeat the exercise but instead to hold the lead comfortably in my hands without gripping so tightly. I closed my eyes and almost immediately I felt movement and opened my eyes. She had barely moved from the other end of the lead. Once again I was shocked. It was again another eye opener for me (excuse the pun) as I have always taught clients the same thing – “tight grip, loose leash”…and here I was learning that a relaxed grip on the leash will allow you to have better communication with the animal. My, how animals must feel all our movements at the other end of the leash! How much information they are deriving from our every movement…and once again the effect of a tight grip or a correction.

A Seminar with Alexandra Kurland

Balance is the most important concept in Canine Parkour, and frankly, in life.  For every behavior you teach a dog, there must be another behavior taught as an exact opposite.  This opposite behavior is not always taught to the dog, most times it is something the human needs to learn.  

Balance, as with communication, is a 2 way street.  Balance is much more then just muscles keeping the body on par with movement and gravity.  Balance has much more to do with awareness, effective control and connection.

Having your dog attached to a leash is much more then just the law in most places, it is even much more then just safety.  A leash should be a method of communication and connection between you and your dog.  

The exercise that Alex had her class do in the above quote is one that I've used for years to instill some understanding in humans that holding on for dear life is the worst thing you can do.  It doesn't matter if it's a leash or your relationship with another human.  When you hold that tight you can't see or sense anything else and so it all falls apart because you can't affect that which you cannot sense.

The Rules of Handling a Long Line

1) Don't grip the line.  Keep it loose.  Any tension on that line, just like a standard leash, tells the dog that something is wrong. Any tension on that line and your hands will not feel the subtle communication from your dog about physical balance or the need for assistance.

2) Let the line drag on the ground.  You should only be holding one foot of line at any one time.  You can walk up and down the line as needed, but to maintain communication and safety, don't coil it in your hand or try to keep track of the tail of the line.  Just let it drag.

3) Don't let you dog hit the end of the line at a full run.  If you can't recall, then grab the line and run at a 90 degree angle to your dog.  Most times this will get your dog to follow.  But if not, by running in a perpendicular direction to your dog, believe it or not, you will lessen the impact greatly when your dog comes to end of the line.

Spotting When You Can't Physically Lift Your Dog

As we know in dog training, it’s oftentimes the other end of the leash that needs the most work and where the focus should be before we even include the animal in the process. We paired up for exercises to learn how we physically affect our learner and one of these exercises was a minuet. Partner A would extend a hand, palm to the sky, and Partner B would place their hand, palm down, lightly on top and we would walk together, allowing Partner A to lead while Partner B closed their eyes and followed. It was an awakening of sorts; I learned to listen with my hand, if that makes any sense. It was incredible to affect my partner’s movement, speed, direction without using force – simply by guiding with the lightest touch as her hand lay like a feather atop mine.

Practice the above quoted exercise with a partner.  Be both A and B so that you understand both ends of the leash.  Then practice with your dog on easy obstacles.  Put your hand lightly on your dog's body and "feel" the muscle tension.  You will learn to anticipate which direction your dog is about to go in just from that touch.  

Then when you are doing new objects, new skills on objects, balance work or tree climbing, always have your hand there so you'll know in advance whether there will be any complications.

Second exercise to practice is having a controlled fall into your lap and then to the ground. Practice this with lots of cushions from your bed to the floor.  Get your dog up on the bed, put your arms over your dogs back from the side and curl your hands as far under the belly as you can depending on the size of your dog.  Pull your dog into your lap, going into a sit as the dog comes with you both of you ending on the ground.  Push your dog off your lap just before you get to the ground so as not to get squished.

This is a controlled fall.

In Training

Standard Parkour



Jumpers Parkour

Creative Parkour