Why Parkour?


If you’re familiar with Busy Dog on any level, you know that we’re hugely passionate about dog parkour! Have you ever wondered why or what it’s all about?

What is Dog Parkour? 

Dog parkour is often referred to as “urban agility.” The sport is composed of a number of skills that can be trained anywhere without any equipment. There are 6 base behaviors (and many others beyond!): 4 feet on, 2 feet on, under, through, in, and balance. These skills are then turned to nature, where you and your dog are challenged to find a variety of obstacles of different sizes, textures, and stability, to play parkour on! 

Red merle border collie stands on a concrete wall in a grassy field.

Benefit #1: Confidence Building

For many dogs, it will be scary at first to put their front paws on a slippery rock, or to crawl under a tree branch. Over time, practicing dog parkour will help your dog learn to trust your judgement, push their bodies in new ways, and become confident in themselves and their abilities.  Very quickly, the confidence that your dog builds in parkour will then transfer to other aspects of their life.

Benefit #2: Relationship Strengthening

As you and your dog spend time training together, your bond will strengthen. If you help your dog safely learn how to have fun in different ways, your dog will build value in the time you spend together. 

Benefit #3: Body Awareness & Conditioning (Safe for all Ages)

Does your dog act like they aren’t even aware of their back legs? This is common in young dogs. Dog parkour will increase your dog’s agility and body awareness. It also can help older dogs maintain some strength as they age.

Benefit #4: Enrichment (More Than Just a Walk!)

More often than not, simply just taking your dog for a walk isn’t enough. In addition to physical exercise, dogs also need mental exercise and enrichment! Dog parkour is an easy activity to add to the walks you’re already going on. Instead of rushing your dog pass a rock, stop and think about what your dog could do with that rock. Can they put feet on it? Circle it? Jump from one to the other?


Benefit #5: Optional Titling

To put it plainly, dog parkour is cool. Why wouldn’t you want to show off? Through the International Dog Parkour Association, you and your dog can earn awards. There are numerous levels, and if your dog prefers one specific behavior, you can earn a specialty title too!

Mackenzie Holmes of Busy Dog Training is a certified instructor and evaluator and can award you your training and novice level  titles.

A black dog in a turquoise harness sits in a cardboard box and faces the camera.

How to Get Started!

We offer both online and in person dog parkour classes! We also meet up once a week in a new place in the Madison area to practice as a group. Come check it out!

Visit the International Dog Parkour Association website for more in depth detail about the sport.

Busy Dog Trainer

Alex Hazlett

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

by Lindsey Hazlett


In general, separation anxiety is a common issue that many pet owners experience. Now that many new owners are going back to work in the office after the pandemic, or simply spending more time doing activities outside the home, there are a lot of dogs currently struggling with this. 


What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the feeling of distress and panic that some dogs experience when left alone or when their owner leaves them. The severity of the distress can vary. 


Here are some common signs of separation anxiety:


  • Barking and howling
  • Excessive pacing and drooling/sweating
  • Destruction
  • Escape efforts
  • Urination and defecation


There certainly can be other causes of these behaviors (boredom, incomplete house training, alerting to disturbances outside the home, etc.), so it may be best to set up a video camera to watch what truly happens when you leave your pet alone in order to determine the root issue.


What causes it?

Dogs can develop separation anxiety for a variety of reasons that are often difficult to pinpoint. Common causes include lack of positive alone time as a young dog, genetic predisposition, environmental changes, changes in schedule, or any combination of these. 


Some dogs will begin exhibiting signs early in puppyhood or adolescence, and others develop it later in life.


Can I prevent it?

If your dog is young or is not currently exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, it is important to begin teaching them that it is okay to be alone. 


Create a safe space for your dog, whether it be in a crate, expen, or separate room. Include comfortable materials and eliminate the safety hazards. Then, take some time to help your puppy create a positive association with the space. Provide treats, fun toys and bones, and enrichment activities. Reward your dog for choosing to enter that space. 


Slowly leave the space for seconds at a time and heavily reinforce your puppy. Return BEFORE your dog has the opportunity to experience any discomfort. Practice this in tiny sessions throughout the day and help your dog build up some duration over time.


When should I get help?

Not only is separation anxiety intense and highly stressful for your dog, but it’s also a safety concern. When engaging in destructive behaviors, there’s always a risk that your dog may fracture a tooth, ingest a foreign body, break off nails, or lacerate paws. Therefore, it needs to be addressed immediately. 


As you begin formulating a plan to treat separation anxiety, stop leaving your dog alone right away as much as possible. Continuing to put your dog in situations where they will experience separation distress will only worsen the issue. See if you can modify your schedule, bring your dog along to places, hire a pet sitter or dog walker, or if appropriate, look into local doggy daycares. 


It may be a good idea to ask your veterinarian about potential medications or supplements to help your dog better cope in the instances where you do have to leave your dog alone in the meantime.




I’ll Be Home Soon



Managing Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety” by Karen Pryor






Busy Dog Trainer

Lindsey Hazlett



To Greet or Not to Greet?

When it comes to greetings, communication is key. 

Whether your dog is being greeted by another person or dog, or if you’re personally greeting another dog, several things need to be taken into consideration. Safety and the dogs’ comfort is the number one priority, regardless of how badly you or someone else wants to say hello. Keep the communication channels open and be intentional about your actions. 

Approaching an Unfamiliar Dog

Before walking right up to a dog, asses the situation. Does the dog appear confident? Is the owner alert? If a greeting seems appropriate for all parties, go ahead and ask the owner for permission to approach their dog. If the owner says no, respect this by moving on and continuing to provide adequate space.

If the owner gives you permission to say hello to their dog, hold your hand out to the side and see if the dog is interested. If the dog approaches you happily, briefly pet the dogs chest or wherever they are comfortable. Avoid reaching over the head.

“If the owner gives you permission to say hello to their dog, hold your hand out to the side and see if the dog is interested.”

“It is okay to say no! You are your dog’s advocate.”

Practice stepping on your dog’s leash at first so that they physically cannot jump on strangers. Ask for a sit as strangers approach and reward your dog. Scatter treats on the floor for your dog to work on while a person comes.

Practice these skills at home extensively with a friend or family member before attempting with a true stranger. 

We cover Polite Greetings in our Good Dog and Puppy classes if you need a little help!

Teaching Your Dog Polite Greetings

When others ask to approach your dog, you should also take a second to observe your dog. Is your dog interested in “saying hi” right now? Will your dog be well mannered and remain under control? It is okay to say no! You are your dog’s advocate.

Think about what behavior you’d like from your dog when others approach. Would you like your dog to abstain from jumping? Do you want them to sit nicely by your side? Or do you not care what they do, as long as they’re calm? Teach your dog your expectations!

Dog to Dog Greetings

Before ever letting your dog approach another dog on leash, ask for permission first! Just because your dog is friendly does not mean that the other one is! 

If the other owner says yes, allow your dogs to walk up to each other if they are calm. Pay close attention to both dogs’ body language cues. 

If you see either dog freezing up, raising their hackles, tucking their tail, standing taller, making excessive eye contact with the other dog, or curling any lips, immediately remove your dog from the situation. 

In a positive, healthy greeting, you should see two relaxed dogs with wiggly bodies on loose leashes, tails wagging while held at a moderate height, and tongues lolling to one side.

It’s best to keep all leashed greetings brief. As a general rule, count to 3 and then call your dog away!

“In a positive, healthy greeting, you should see two relaxed dogs with wiggly bodies on loose leashes, tails wagging while held at a moderate height, and tongues lolling to one side.”




Summers in Wisconsin can get hot, and these higher temperatures can pose a threat to our dogs! Watch out for the following signs of heat stroke shared by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):


  • Anxiousness
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unsteadiness
  • Abnormal gum and tongue color
  • Collapse


Heat stroke can be prevented by always having water and shade available for your pet, and by keeping them inside if it’s too hot. Leaving your dog in the car during the warmer months, even if for just a few minutes, can drastically increase the risk of heat stroke. Even if you crack the windows or park in the shade, cars overheat VERY quickly and can be deadly.


As a last quick note, asphalt and concrete heat up quickly outside. If these surfaces are hot to touch, they are too hot for your pet’s paws! Walking your dogs in the mornings and evenings when it’s less sunny, or putting booties on your dog, can help prevent paw burns.


Blue-Green Algae

Blue-Green Algae is a type of bacteria that can be found in natural bodies of water, like lakes, streams, and rivers. During the summer, this cyanobacteria can bloom and produce deadly toxins. A couple of drinks of water contaminated with this bacterium can be lethal, and there is no antitoxin. 


The Wisconsin Development of Health Services (DHS) describes blue-green algae as “look[ing]  like spilled paint or pea soup, and can change the color of the water to green, blue, turquoise, purple, tan, or white.” Avoid letting your pet near water that matches this description. Be aware that the water can be contaminated and appear normal if the bloom is underwater. 


Watch out for the following signs of poisoning, and take your dog to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital immediately if you suspect exposure: vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, and/or seizures (DHS).

Creepy Crawlies

Bugs come alive in the summer! Your dog will inevitably be around them, so it’s important to be aware of which to look out for and how to best keep your dog safe and healthy. 


Ticks can carry a variety of diseases that can be passed on to your dog by bite. In order to decrease the risk of transmission, you can talk to your veterinarian about monthly tick (and often flea) preventative. Even if you use a tick preventative, it’s still a good idea to look your pet over when she gets home to make sure there aren’t any attached ticks. Remove the ticks as soon as you find them.


Mosquitoes are the carriers of Heartworm, another serious and transmissible disease. This too can be managed and prevented by speaking with your vet about annual testing and monthly preventatives. Consider keeping your dog inside during times that mosquitoes are most present and active, like evenings. 


Bees don’t transmit disease, but they can sting your dog and cause a reaction. Most commonly, dogs will become intrigued by the bees flying around and choose to sniff or eat them, resulting in a sting frequently on the face or legs. If your dog is stung, see if a stinger is still attached. If so, remove it carefully and hold an ice pack over the site while you contact your veterinarian for next steps. VCA (Veterinary Centers of America) recommends that you bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet immediately if you notice any of the following signs:


  • Severe swelling
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Seizures


Plants and Soil Additives

Summer is the season for gardening! Unfortunately, some popular plants can be toxic to dogs (and cats) if they ingest them. Examples shared by the Pet Poison Helpline include the sago palm plant, lilies, lily of the valley, and crocuses. It’s best to research any plant that you are considering bringing to your garden or home and ensure that it is safe to have around pets. Additionally, if you see your dog ingesting a toxic plant, call your veterinarian immediately. 


Plants and flowers aside, be mindful of the fertilizers and insecticides and pesticides you use in your garden. While most fertilizers are pet-friendly, ingestion of large amounts can still cause problems. Any ingestion of insecticides and pesticides can be fatal. Search for pet-safe products and consider creating a small enclosure around your garden if needed.



Busy Dog Trainer

Lindsey Hazlett


“Teaching bite inhibition is the most important aspect of your puppy’s entire education.” – Dr. Ian Dunbar

What is Bite Inhibition?

Bite inhibition is one concept that absolutely must be taught to all puppies. It has to do with teaching your dog to control the intensity of his or her bite. If we don’t teach puppies to moderate how hard they bite, we’ll have grown dogs accidentally injuring both people and other dogs. 

Some bite inhibition is learned during those first 8 weeks of life from littermates and the mother. With that said, puppies still have plenty to learn as they age, and repetition is key. You must continue to teach your puppy how to control their mouths throughout all of puppyhood. 

Bite inhibition also comes into play with more than play biting. In the perfect storm of a circumstance, even the most stable dog can bite. A dog that has been taught the value of bite inhibition may only cause a bruise or no damage at all, whereas a dog that hasn’t been taught this may cause a trip to the emergency room, which may even prompt euthanasia. Bite inhibition not only protects you, but it protects your dog too.

How do I teach my puppy?

Dr. Ian Dunbar breaks up bite inhibition into two steps:

1. Inhibiting the force of bites.

 When your puppy bites you, offer a calm “ouch.” If your puppy backs off, resume playing. If your puppy does not back off, get up and remove yourself from the situation for a short moment. This teaches your puppy that biting results in the immediate suspension of play. Be sure to go back after your brief break and re-engage with your dog. 

2. Decreasing frequency of mouthing.

 After your dog learns to only bite gently, you may begin teaching him or her that the mouthing must stop when you say so. Begin by teaching your dog what “off” or “stop” means. Give the cue, then hold down a treat. As soon as your dog ignores or steps back from the treat for 1 second, reward him or her. Over time and repetitions, increase duration. Once your puppy understands that you want them to back off and wait nicely, you may turn this over to mouthing and play. Each time your puppy mouths you, give your off or stop cue, and use food to lure your dog off of you. Reward your dog for backing off, then resume play!

Over time, these two steps will concurrently teach your puppy that biting must be gentle and must cease as soon you say so. This is bite inhibition.

What NOT to do


  • Alpha-Roll. This frightens your dog and will likely cause increased biting in both frequency and force. 
  • Yelp. It’s a common misconception that yelping teaches your dog that biting hurts, so they will therefore stop. This is not the case. A yelp often causes your puppy to become more aroused and therefore bite hard. 
  • Hold your dog’s muzzle closed. This is never recommended. This will cause more frustration, leading to an extra bitey puppy. It also may cause your dog to fear touch near the muzzle, which will be an issue when it comes to grooming and veterinary care. 
  • Bite your puppy back. Do not use any sort of physical force to stop puppy biting. This will harm your relationship with your dog and increase the risk of true aggression. 



Recall Games

Does your dog struggle to come when called, especially amidst distractions? This is a common issue. Recall needs to be continually worked on in order to build a reliable “come.” An easy way to build recall strength is to integrate it into your training routine. Give one (or more!) of these games a try. 

Restrained Recall & Chase


This game requires a helper, enticing toys or treats, a harness for your dog, and a space to practice. Begin by having a helper hold onto your dog. Walk as far away from your dog as you can while maintaining complete confidence that your dog will come. Build up your dog. Appear as exciting as you can- your dog should be itching to get to you! Once you get to this point, provide your recall cue (“Charlie, come!”) and run! Let your dog chase you for a short distance, then throw a little party for your dog with praise, toys, and/or treats.


Recall and Chase with Treat Toss

This variation of #1 can be completed without a helper. You will just need your dog and high-value treats. Begin by tossing a treat in the opposite direction. While your dog finishes eating it, provide your recall cue and run so your dog chases you. once your dog reaches you, toss a treat in the opposite direction as a reward and begin again! The fast-paced nature of this game ensures multiple repetitions in a short period of time. 


Round Robin

This game is perfect if you have one or more helpers. Either have your helper stand about 10 feet away, or create a 10-foot circle of people. Each person then calls the dog and rewards her with treats when she comes. Someone else then repeats this. The dog should be running back and forth between people, responding to recalls, and earning treats!


Hide & Seek

This simple and fun game doubles as both an easy and enriching exercise, as well as a recall exercise. Begin by placing your dog in a stay. Choose a hiding spot appropriate for your dog’s familiarity with the game. Release your dog and give the recall cue. Once he gets to you, praise your dog! Treats and toys can be used as rewards. 


Myth #1: Muzzled dogs are bad dogs.

Fact: Dogs may be muzzled for a variety of different reasons; none of which is because the dog is inherently bad. A muzzle may be used for situations beyond aggression and reactivity. Some dogs are known to eat things off the ground that they shouldn’t. The muzzle will protect his sensitive stomach or help prevent the risk of him ingesting a foreign body, which is a serious veterinary emergency. Some dogs also play too rough or play with dogs with thin skin, like greyhounds. The muzzle can protect those other dogs from accidental injuries. A muzzle may also be appropriate for a dog with a high prey drive. This saves the wildlife in the area! In some states and countries, there may also be a Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that states that specific breeds and breed mixes must be muzzled in public.

Myth #2: Muzzled dogs are unhappy.

Fact: With proper training, a dog wearing a muzzle perceives the muzzle as an exciting tool that lets the dog do things she might not otherwise be able to do. Proper muzzle training includes a slow introduction to the muzzle with plenty of high value treats in order to create a positive conditioned emotional response (+CER). Tiny steps are taken following the introduction so that the dog may feel safe and learn to tolerate the muzzle before it is ever strapped on or used for an extended period of time. A properly muzzle trained dog will not try to remove the muzzle, nor will appear bothered by it in any way. The muzzle means freedom!

Myth #3: Only aggressive and reactive dogs should be muzzle trained.

Fact: In addition to the situations where a muzzle may be used listed in #1, muzzle training is also an important just in case skill that may prove to be valuable in the future. In the perfect storm of a situation, any terrified dog or dog in pain may bite. If a painful injury occurs, even the most tolerant dogs may snap at the veterinary office. In these instances, a muzzle will be necessary in order to protect both the veterinary workers and the dog. If the dog is already muzzle trained, this will be one less stressful aspect of the visit.


Myth #4: Muzzles need to be tightly fitted.

Fact: Tightly-fitted muzzles are only appropriate for very short periods of time, as they restrict the amount of air flow the dog will get. A properly-fitted muzzle will be basket style, large enough to allow panting, yawning, and drinking water. An easy way to measure how big the basket muzzle should be is to measure the circumference of the dog’s snout with a ball in his mouth.

Myth #5: It’s safe to let my dog run up to a muzzled dog.

Fact: Without asking, it’s impossible to know why a dog is wearing a muzzle. For this reason, a muzzled dog should always be provided plenty of space in order to avoid stressing the dog and her handler. Do not make assumptions, but instead offer a kind smile and a little extra room.


Muzzle Training with Chowder

by Lindsey Hazlett

Busy Dog Trainer