Monday, 26 August 2019

Parkour is amazing (or how going to class made our holidays better)

(Blog written by Laura and the Daring Duo)

As anyone who has attended one of our Parkour workshops or classes will already know, I agree with that statement on principle, but given that we were halfway along a footpath deep in the Welsh countryside and, not two minutes earlier, had been talking about what we were planning to have for lunch, it wasn’t really what I’d been expecting to hear.

When I turned round though, I saw this and it all suddenly made perfect sense

The route from our holiday cottage to the local village was a little over a mile and included at least six stiles, two kissing gates and a metal bridge, all of which I hadn’t really noticed because we’d been able to just move past them.

Our parkour practice means that Brian and Seamus are confident about problem-solving the obstacles in their paths – they’ll work with me to climb up on things, wriggle under things, jump over things and are basically happy putting their feet on anything!

If my dogs weren’t confident in exploring and navigating their environments, it could have been an absolute nightmare of a walk (and I’m lucky; my two are both small enough that in a worst case scenario, I can always lift them over an obstacle.

I distinctly remember Laird’s first encounter with a stile being a LOT more challenging and involving two people, a lot of encouragement, a rear end lift and a flying sausage!).

The games we play in a training class are always best when they translate into a real world setting and make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

Classes should be fun, but the things we learn there are often more than just a trick to be saved for that training setting and sometimes they can come in useful in unexpected ways.

The world is full of obstacles for our dogs (literal and figurative) and I’m a big fan of using whatever you have in your toolbox to help your dog work through those obstacles in the ways that work best for them.

I’d love to hear about how you and your dogs have used the things you’ve learnt in classes in your daily lives, especially if you’ve been inventive and used things in ways you hadn’t expected to!

If you can’t think of an example, that’s okay – it’s never too late to start trying out the things you know in different situations and see if they give you new and interesting approaches to whatever challenges you face.

Have fun problem-solving your week!

Laura and the daring duo 

PS For literal problem-solving fun, why not come along for one of our Parkour workshops this autumn. We have introductory and progressions sessions suitable for all types of dogs and we’d love to see you there!

PPS If you’re in a sticky situation with something that you and your dog can’t work out how to problem solve, you don’t have to struggle alone – why not drop us an email at the office and see if it’s something the team can help you with?

Help My dog is too fast for me!

I mean, look at the joyful expression on Laird's face as we hurtled towards the brave photographer, and my sheer determination to not fall over!

Actually this blog is in answer to a question on the Canicross Yorkshire page.
Canicross for dummies question! 
I've been running for a very first time. Strong n fast dog. She wanted go so I did let her, it was an uphill.
Things were starting getting very fast and fun and then there was the tree root I managed to get over but as I'm not used to that pulling force my other foot got twisted at ankle by landing...
how do you learn to cope with challenging environment and also how do you stop your dog in an emergency (or at all) 😂🙈

Oh how I feel your pain. Literally. Last December I slipped in the mud while attached to a fast excited dog, and the resultant fall tore muscles in my ankle.

So it's something I've been thinking a lot about, and testing answers for the last 6 months too.

Here's what I've come up with so far, but I'd love to hear your tips and hints too!

1. Look at your equipment

Over the years I've found that different line types and lengths can make a big difference with a strong or powerful puller (and with the more delicate souls too).

While the fully elasticated Non-Stop bungee line takes a lot of the sudden jolts out of the system to make acceleration a smoother experience, it can feel a bit like a never ending stretch to the dog.... and that is a problem because if your big, strong dog never feels like they've hit the end of the line, they might just not stop pulling!

So, I deliberately use a shorter, less elasticated line for some of our runs, especially where I might need more control or there's steeper descents. I'll also switch lines mid-run if needed.

2. Train a reliable "slow down" or pace change cue

Come running with us, and you'll hear slow sing-song commands like "stea-dy" in distinctive tones (high-low). Keeping your voice calm helps calm the dog down (screaming STEADY!!! rarely helps), and we use the cues just before we move from a run to jog, or jog to walk.

We also practice them when we're out walking (easier to reward with food then), and if your dog really is built like a tank, there's no shame in handing him/her over to a bigger stronger friend just while they get the idea.

3. Tweak your running style 

I'm definitely not saying that you just need to learn to run faster, but if your running style isn't very efficient that will definitely not be helping the situation.

Working on your proprioception and balance makes it easier to cope on rough ground, and learning to adapt to a faster cadence will help with a pace change too.   This helps you to make the most of the help the dog can give without dying yourself!

I've been learning to sprint which in turn makes it easier for Laird to listen to my slow down cue afterwards. After all, running at my speed must be super frustrating for him.

4. Choose the terrain and trails that help you focus on your key goals 

I have a special hatred of races that start with steep descents, or a steep uphill with a crowded field so no one can stretch their legs. For me, the ideal start is a gentle incline with a curve in the track.

But sadly I don't control the course designers. So what that tells me is exactly what I need to train for!

If my goal for today's run is slow and steady, I make sure to choose a route that has gentle gradient changes, minimal exciting livestock and try to avoid the hunting hours of dusk.

Able to let your dog safely off lead? Then do that on the steep sections rather than risk injury. Or run with a friend who can help out!

5. Have an emergency option just in case

For example I've been training Laird to be happy wearing a headcollar (which gives me more control) in case of any really serious steep descents, or if I'm injured and someone else has to get him off the hill. While Freya will generally walk sensibly if asked, I don't trust the Big Yin to be sensible with a stranger...

I'm also experimenting with a short grab handle that stays attached to Laird's collar (velcroed to the harness for storage) which lets me go for extra control in a short term situation.

The only one of the above ideas that could give you an "instant" fix is likely to be trying different lines, but I promise it is so worth the effort to choose at least one other option to train too.

Feeling over-dogged is both exhilarating, and terrifying. And long term it definitely contributes to running injuries so don't wait too long.

Happy Running

Morag and Laura

Canicross - it's more than just running with your dog!

Introduction to Canicross (1/2 day workshop)

WHAT: A 3 hour introduction to canicross (running with your dog as a team) covering choosing kit, teaching basic commands and putting it into practice. Refreshments provided. Kit fitting in a warm indoor hall. Training and running outside no matter the weather!

WHEN: Sunday 22nd September

WHERE: Sand Hutton Village Hall, just outside York   YO41 1LL

Book online now!

Canicross Survival Skills

WHAT: Two half day workshops to boost your skills and enjoyment
  • 09:30 Warming up and cooling down for canicross (includes 2k run)
  • 13:30 Tackling REAL hills (includes 3-5k run)
WHEN: Sunday 15th September

WHERE: Yorkshire Cycle Hub, Fryup Dale, North York Moors  YO21 2AP
  • Each workshop is limited to a max 8 participants (up to 2 dogs per runner), includes refreshments and kit check.
  • Open to any canicross runner, ideal if you have completed an intro session previously
  • £50 per workshop OR book both for £90
Choose your workshops here! 

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Celebrating Well Connected Canine's 10 Year Anniversary

Amazingly, it’s now 10 years since Well Connected Canine came into being as a business focused on making the relationships between us and our dogs that wee bit better.

Here are just a few of the things that you (our amazing clients) have said that living with your dogs has helped you to learn

Monkia and Bear - Bear has taught me how important is to be consistent , to believe in yourself and never give up despite of all difficult moments you can experience.

He made me realise how strong the love and the bond between a dog and a human could be and that there is no impossible goals if you really want to achieve them.

Lisa, Weasel and Grub - Weasel and Grub have taught me (and still learning) to appreciate their individual personalities, preferences and needs, and then to adapt for them. They tell us so much if we pay attention

Faye and Jack  - Jack has taught me so much it's difficult to choose the key thing. I guess that being totally 'hands off' is the most important lesson. There is never (except in extreme circumstances for safety) any need for physical coercion or restraint. I'm sure that even a dog that's not deaf can be taught to follow the direction of a kind hand. 

Lauren and Jacob - Jacob has taught me the importance of staying calm on the other end of the lead and also made me better at sticking up for myself (well, him) when other people insist that their dog is super friendly and should get to say hello to him 

We would love to hear more of your stories!

What have you learned from living with your dog or dogs?

What has training with Well Connected Canine added to your life with your dog?

What do you wish you knew the beginning and you would love other people to know when they start living with a new dog?

Official invitation

Come and help us celebrate our 10 year anniversary with an open day and lots of free canine activities on Saturday 
7th September, from 10am - 4.30pm at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming*

There will be a range of activities for you and your dog to try; 

  • harness the power of your dogs nose with have-a-go scentwork 
  • for dogs who love to climb and explore come and try Parkour (urban agility)
  • If you dogs loves to run give Hoopers a bash

There will be a selection of stalls for your dog you to do some essential shopping! 

The cafe will be open to give you an opportunity to rest and refresh before trying your next activity 

Come and catch up with the team and ask us your doggy related questions

We hope to see you there

Morag, Clare and the Well Connected Canine Team 


*normal entry fees to the museum apply, but if you want to go on the special guest list please let us know asap!