Pooches put their best paws forward for new activity trail

The official opening of the Fort and Fleet Dog Activity Trail at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Picture by Duncan Shepherd
The official opening of the Fort and Fleet Dog Activity Trail at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Picture by Duncan Shepherd
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JUMPS, ramps and tunnels are just a few of the pieces of equipment dogs can enjoy at a new outdoor activity trail.

Inspired by the International Dog Parkour Association, the Forts and Fleets project at Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Horndean has built a dog obstacle course.

Jessica Mackey with Kayla. 'Picture by Duncan Shepherd

Jessica Mackey with Kayla. 'Picture by Duncan Shepherd

Dog walker Danielle Bolton brought her parson russell terrier, Luka, to the opening of the centre.

The 36-year-old from Portsmouth said: ‘It is a great idea and I think it is nice to have a free resource for dog owners to be able to have fun with their pets.’

The activity trail next to the Windmill View car park will be open all year round to owners and their dogs.

Animal behaviourist Natalie Light said: ‘This is great that the country park is enriching walks for dogs and their owners and this equipment gives them something different to sniff and explore.

Organiser Helen Hitchings.' Picture by Duncan Shepherd

Organiser Helen Hitchings.' Picture by Duncan Shepherd

‘I always encourage my clients to let their animals on equipment made by the natural environment like fallen trees as long as it is safe.’

The 34-year-old added: ‘It is good for the dog’s health and great for the owners to mix up their dog’s activity.’

More than 25 dogs and their owners went to the opening including Nuala Atkey from Clanfield, who runs a Facebook group for dog walkers at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

She said: ‘It is a great idea and it won’t be without its teething problems but I think people should not knock it before they have seen it or tried it.’

The whole project was funded by Forts and Fleets which is a part of the Armed Forces Covenant working with Queen Elizabeth Country Park to bring military and civilian communities closer with nature.

One of the organisers, Helen Hitchings said: ‘I think it is great the country park are supporting dog walkers and providing something different for them.

‘Forces and Fleets built an obstacle course at the top of the hill for people and I think the dog walkers felt they wanted something as well.’

Helen is an experienced dog trainer and will be running sessions at the activity trail on Fridays.

Helen said: ‘The idea is if people engage with the activity trail then the country park will do more with it.

‘We will also be running puppy classes at the main centre and we are going to do walks, talks and lunches as we are trying to make the country park more sociable for dog walkers.’

For more information visit petbehaviourservices.com