Ep. 16: Play Parkour, Improve in Scent Work

Dianna L. Santos

Lori Timberlake

This episode was originally aired as part of the All About Dog Sports Podcast, which has been merged into the It's Time to Train Your Dog Podcast. 

For those of us involved in dog sports, we know that oftentimes the skills obtained in one sport will carry over to other sports. This can include such things as increased confidence, better body awareness and more.​

In this episode, Lori Timberlake walks us through how training and playing in Canine Parkour can translate to a more a confident and successful Scent Work dog, especially for those dogs were naturally more reserved and sensitive.​

Learn more about the International Dog Parkour Association here: https://www.dogparkour.org/

Enroll in the Intro to Canine Parkour course here.

Check out Scent Work University for online courses, seminars, webinars, blogs, podcasts and training tips all focused on one thing: Scent Work!


Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the It's All About Dog Sports Podcast. In this podcast, we talk about all things dog sports that can include such things as agility, barn hunt, competition, obedience, rally, tri ball tricks and more. In this episode, we're going to be learning from Lori Timberlake how core may actually be beneficial if you're also doing scent work. Before we start diving into the podcast episode itself, let me do a very quick introduction on myself. My name is Diana Santos. I'm the owner and lead instructor for Dog Sport University, Scent Work University, Canine Fitness University and Family Dog University. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to provide high quality dog training instruction to as many people as possible. And we're very fortunate to have a client basis worldwide. For Dog Sport University in particular, we provide online courses, seminars, and webinars, as well as a regularly updated blog and podcast, which you're listening to today. These are all designed to help you in your dog sport training journey. Since you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the podcast episode itself. So in this podcast, we're going to be listening to Lori Timberlake as she's describing the benefits that playing the game of Parkour may actually have if you're also playing the Game of Scent Work. Let's listen in.

Speaker 2 (01:11):
Hello and welcome to the podcast. This is Lori Timberlake and I'm going to talk to you today about the benefits of parkour for your scent work dog. That sounds crazy, right? But we're going to get into it and you're going to see why this sport is going to help you with scent work so much. So just to give you a little background, who am I and what is this parkour I talk about? So most of you know me from scent work. I've been teaching scent work for years and years and years and years. I like to compete with my dog. I'm very involved in the sport. And then this year I started parkour. I've done parkour in the past. I think we've all done some form of parkour throughout all of our lives and interactions with our dogs. I did take a parkour class about three years ago and came back to it this year.

So if you want to know more about the details on that, definitely check out the podcast I did with Diana a few weeks ago talking about the sport of parkour and how I got back into it. And I got into it for a few reasons. One, just something new to do with my dog, she her scent work career, not that it's coming to an end, but she's gotten whatever title she needs and she's 11 years old. And I thought, what other fun thing can I do? I had no idea that I was going to be this involved with parkour and that I would have such a new love for it that I have found. So the sport is great. I'm super excited about it. I did take the instructors course through International Dog Parkour Association and I am now a certified instructor for that organization.

So when I talk about parkour, I'm not talking about dogs jumping from your rooftop and then doing a back flip and landing on your neighbor's rooftop. That's not really what I am talking about when I talk about parkour. I'm talking about the philosophy and guidelines set by the International Dog Parkour Association. So there's a much more emphasis on safety and longevity in the parkour that I'm talking about. So definitely check out that other podcast and when you get a chance, head on over to the International Dog Parkour Association website to read their guidelines and the rules for their titles.

What does this have to do with scent work so much? It really does. So first I just want to talk briefly, and I've talked about it before, but I want to talk about the philosophy of parkour. So some of the philosophy is to be safe, obviously, to have fun, to let the dogs choose, and that is the most important part of parkour is our dogs are choosing to interact with these obstacles and objects and that we're not making them do it and building confidence. So I'm also of a certified nose work instructor with Canine Nose Work and don't these things sound very familiar? Right In Nose work, we want our dogs to have fun. We want them to figure out how to solve these puzzles. We are not going in at least the way I teach. It's not work. I'm not going in and pointing and saying, check here, check here, check here.

I'm letting the dogs figure out the problems on their own. So lots of similarities and building confidence. Both sports build confidence in our dogs. But I am going to get to how parkour can help the Scent Work dog in this podcast. So by giving our dogs the freedom to choose, we're keeping them safe. We're opening communication, we're giving them confidence, and we're improving their willingness to try. So think about our dogs in a search where maybe they're having a hard time, they can't figure out the problem. We set something that is too difficult for their level, but if they have this background of learning how to figure things out on their own, they're going to try a little bit harder. They're going to say, yes, I can do this. I don't need to look to my mom. I don't need to ask for help. I don't need to quit in the middle of the search.

They're going to try a little bit harder. That's not to say that we're not going to make our dogs stay out there and just suck it up and you better find it. Sometimes we just need to end the search. Sometimes we need to maybe put our dog up and make the hide a little bit more accessible for them. So I'm not saying because our dogs do parkour that now we can just let them struggle in nose work. But by giving them this confidence and this learning how to do things on their own, it's going to help them figure out problems quicker in nose work and scent work. So some other things that PowerCore does is it really helps build our teamwork and our bonding with our dogs. Nose Work does the same thing, but when we are teaching these behaviors, we're really teaching the dog that we have their back, that we're always going to spot them.

If they find themselves, maybe they get on something that's a little too scary, we're always going to be there to help them down. And they really need us, even though they're being independent and they're doing these things on their own, they need us there as backup. And isn't that the same as scent work? We want to teach our dogs to be independent. We want them to learn to search the room on their own, but if they get stuck or maybe they didn't cover a corner or something like that, we're there to be like, Hey, let's just check this over here. So that's another reason that the two sports help each other out. We're teaching independence yet we're always there to help them as a backup.

But now I really wanted to get to the meat of why I wanted to do this podcast is a very specific example of how parkour has really helped one of my Scent Work students. So just to give a little history too, so I think we've all done a little bit of powerco, even if we didn't call it that. I want to say for at least 15 years in teaching my classes, I would put things out like little confidence building courses, objects for the dogs to interact with. We didn't call it parkour, we would just call it maybe puppy agility or confidence building courses. So I had at one point a dog school. So it was like a day program where people could drop their dogs off and rather than just letting them play all day like a daycare situation, it was very individualized. And we would either work on behaviors that the dogs were having problems with at home or we were just covering basic manners.

Sometimes we would do scent work for the dogs that played scent work. I had a lot of dogs that were also in my classes that were coming to dog school. But then every day we would bring out all these different obstacles and we had a ton of different stuff at the building and we would build these different confidence courses every day, and each dog would come out individually and we'd let them work on it. And anything they were having more of a difficult time with, we would work on that a little bit more. But again, it was always their choice and they made the ultimate decision if they were going to interact with the obstacle or not. So I had a student back then who was also a nose work student, and we'd come to the dog school and I'd put the confidence course out and he never wanted anything to do with it.

And I would always take pictures and post them every day for the owners. And I'd always be like, come on Logan, we got to get you on something so I can take a picture. So I never wanted to force him. So he would always do the easier objects, the carpeted low place boards or things like that. But anything that was a little slippery or shiny or different shaped, he was like, Nope, not doing it. So fast forward no longer have that program. Still teaching lots and lots of scent work classes. He's come to lots and lots of scent work classes, and he always played scent work for fun. Wasn't a competitive dog until recently until about the last year. Mom caught the bug, went to a trial, he did well, and now they're all in and he was doing well. But at one particular trial, he went into one of the searches and was like, there's something in this room over there in the corner and it's staring at me and I don't like it and I'm not going to search.

So I can't remember if they ended up finding the hide or not or if it was a not qualifying run, but I just remember that the dog was very stressed. So we worked on this in our regular scent work classes and we know it's always been an issue with him. He has gotten a little bit more confident over the years, but still kind of a nervous dog. So fast forward again and we offer parkour classes and they're the first to sign up and he actually did really well. Now we did this class indoors. It was a room he was very familiar with all of the other dogs and people in this particular class he was very familiar with. And a couple of the objects he was still nervous about, but way better than three or four years ago, when he used to come to dog school.

So he's doing really good in the class and he's still coming to cent work classes and doing great there. And I'm noticing, wow, he has a little bit more of a hop in his step when he comes into a search now I'm like, oh, he's digging in a little deeper on some of these hides that previously he would've been nervous with. And then his owner noticed it and she said, wow, his scent work has gotten better since we started taking parkour classes. And this was only four or five weeks into the class. We hadn't even finished it yet. So very noticeable difference just from doing the parkour. I think that is amazing. I had several other students that did scent work and parkour, and can we see a huge difference for your regular normal, confident dogs? Maybe not a huge difference, but you're definitely always building on that confidence.

So I think of my own dog in particular and loves her scent work and she's pretty motivated and she's not often disturbed by distractions or anything weird in the room, but there have been a couple times where there's been something in a search and she spent a little freaked out about it. She would still search, but I could tell she wasn't searching that area because she was just a little bit spooked by something there. So the more parkour I do with her, the more confident I see her being. And I think if we go to any more trials, I'm not sure if we will or not. I'm curious to see if her confidence is any different in scent work now that we've been really focusing a lot on parkour. I think the sport can help with a lot of other sports too. I specifically wanted to talk about scent work today, but of course, anytime you're teaching your dog to think and figure things out on their own, it's going to help in anything else you do.

It's going to help in your obedience, your rally, your barn hunt, your agility tricks. I mean, definitely parkour is kind of like hand in hand with tricks, right? And tricks are very popular right now, especially as we are under quarantine. A lot of people are working on their tricks from home. So you can also work on your parkour at home. Right now, international Dog Parkour Association has a specialty title out. It's a quarantine title where everything has to be done in your house. So it's been super fun working on these behaviors in the house, trying to find regular everyday household items that our dogs can interact with, and then going out and doing a scent work search after it's been a blast. It's giving them something to do. And our dogs are very happy. They're very happy that we're under quarantine anyways, but they're very happy that we actually have time to do things with them now.

And these two sports just go hand in hand. So I invite you all to try it. Let me know how it's going. Let me know if you're seeing a difference in your scent work after your dog starts doing some parkour. If you don't know what parkour is, again, don't just go out there and start having your dog jump on things and do anything unsafe. You definitely want to make sure that you're following some safety guidelines put forth by IDPKA. So check out their website, but you can also check out the course that is coming out this week, which is Introduction to Parkour, because that will teach you to make sure you're doing all of these behaviors and movements appropriately and safely so that your dog can do them for the long haul and doesn't get injured. So thank you very much for listening to my little story about how parkour can help your scent work dog, and I want to hear your stories. So definitely comment and let us know how it's going. And I look forward to seeing you in scent work and parkour classes.

Speaker 1 (15:43):
So I hope that you found this podcast episode helpful. Bo gave us some really great information about parkour. Could be very helpful if we're also doing set work. Thanks so much for listening. Happy training, and we look forward to seeing you soon.