Columbus Pets Guide: Keep Your Dog Active

From nosework to wall-climbing, exercising your dog can involve more than a walk.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
Adventure Unleashed co-founders Karin Coyne, right, and Abigail Curtis, left, work with their dogs, Carl and Mouse, at Scioto Audobon Metro Park.

If you wonder whether those daily walks with your pup are providing them with enough exercise, you’re not alone. And if your dog exhibits problematic behaviors, you’re right to suspect that insufficient exercise is to blame. But most dogs don’t need to go on long jogs or strenuous hikes. “Typically, I try to reframe the conversation in terms of enrichment,” says trainer Heather Luedecke of Delighted Dog Training. 

Luedecke focuses on “species-specific” exercises. Fetch and tug have a ready appeal for most dogs, while sniffing and foraging also help satiate a dog’s natural curiosity. “Throw a handful of kibble in the grass,” she says. 

Want to challenge your pet a bit more, both physically and mentally? Abigail Curtis and Karin Coyne, co-owners of Adventures Unleashed, train dogs in a sport they invented: dog parkour. Both enthusiastic practitioners of parkour for humans—a noncompetitive sport that uses the existing natural or built environment as a playground for daring exertion and self-expression—the two Reynoldsburg residents decided to help dogs get in on the fun. 

More:Columbus Pets Guide

Dog parkour might mean hopping onto a brick wall, scuttling under a bench or balancing on a fallen log. “It’s all about getting people out exploring the environment with their dogs, working as a team, figuring things out,” says Curtis, who is also a vet. During the pandemic lockdown this spring, the pair released a video for clients presenting indoor dog parkour challenges like walking along the back of the sofa or jumping into a laundry basket. The organization they founded, the International Dog Parkour Association, has more than 500 members in a dozen countries. 

And there are other options: The pair offer classes in nosework, agility and flyball, which Curtis describes as a cross between agility and drag racing. “Flyball is a little intense for some people,” says Curtis. “Not gonna lie.”