Offering dogs and their owners the chance to interact and get fit at the same time, the trail features 10 stand alone obstacles across 500m in the country park, all inspired by obstacles found on dog agility courses.
“The trail is designed for dogs of all sizes and abilities,” says Yvonne Jepson, a member of the Thorndon Guardians. “So if you’re a beginner to agility, it’s a great way to introduce your dog to the obstacles.”
Built by volunteers from the Thorndon Guardians, the Thorndon Park Dog Activity Trail is the third to be created under the scheme – an initiative created collaboratively by the Forestry Commission, the Kennel Club and dog agility experts.
“We started constructing the trail last autumn and are making the finishing touches this weekend,” says Yvonne, who lives in Shenfield. “The whole site has been built for free with all materials donated.
“The main ethos of the trail is to get the dogs and their owners working together and being healthy,” continues Yvonne (pictured left, with her dog Millie). “We’re all about promoting responsible dog ownership, so at the beginning of the trail we have signs reminding owners to pick up after their dogs, to use the course safely and not to let puppies jump over the obstacles as their bodies are still developing.”
With a variety of obstacles all placed 50m apart around the edges of the field, dogs and their owners can enjoy agility inspired sections including hoops, hurdles, long jumps, weaves, log walks, tunnels, an A frame and a table top.
“Normally agility courses can be quite fast and furious but the table top is an obstacle where the dogs have to jump onto it and lay down and be still until the owner releases them,” explains Yvonne. “But we’ve also designed the course for different sizes of dogs so, for example, there are two different sized hoops at different heights for dogs to jump through.
“On the opening day we will have a marquee with information and the team will be available to talk people through the trail. Just bring a bag of treats and a toy along with you to encourage your dog through the obstacles and have some fun.”
The opening day runs from 10.30am at Thorndon Country Park South on Sunday, 26 April. The trail is free to use and can be started at either end. The two starting points can be seen from Thorndon Park South Cafe and the trail runs around the edge of the field.