Winter is a hard season for dogs: too cold to spend time outside, sometimes walks aren’t an option with the freezing temperatures or salt on the walks and it’s just dark and dreary outside. So, what can you do to burn off some energy and get your dog thinking in a constructive manner?
I prefer to do some canine fitness exercises to help build muscle and also increase my dogs’ body awareness. Note: If you are not familiar with using products such as the ones below, please work with me or do your homework prior to introducing these tools to your dog.
If you’ve worked with me one-on-one, you know I like to use a balance disc in a lot of different ways. One way is to use as a marker for them to go to. Another is to introduce uneven footing to start on their body awareness. You can purchase any type of balance disc online, it doesn’t have to be a brand name. The purple one we use was purchased off of Amazon, and humans can use it as well!
When introducing the balance disc to your dog, let them make the first move. As soon as they place a paw on the balance disc, immediately reward so they understand that was a right move. Slowly, they’ll start to put both front feet on the balance disc–reward!
With the front paws on the balance disc, you can ask your dog to sit–but they must keep their front paws stable on the disc. This can be a hard maneuver to learn, so give your dog time. And don’t forget to reward, reward, reward!
Next, move to the hind paws on the balance disc. Let them start with placing one back paw on the disc–reward! If you can get both hind feet on the disc, reward! Then you can work on your dog sitting on the disc, while keeping his hind feet flat on the top.
There are lots of other exercises you can do with the balance disc, once you’ve mastered these key steps. Schedule a lesson with Erin or Megan to learn more!
We’ll cover more in later training tips and in class!