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Importance of balance work

Have you ever taken your dog for a long walk or jog only to come home and you’re tired and ready to relax but your dog seems amped up and ready to play? You have just completed one form of exercise for your dog but there is still another form of exercise that hasn’t been fulfilled yet. Mental stimulation is usually a very underestimated form of exercise for dogs. One major useful form of mental stimulation is balance work. Balance work consists of getting your dog to balance and climb on different objects. These can include balance pods(found on Amazon), wooden stumps, rocking chairs, ladders, turned over buckets, etc. Balance work is extremely crucial to your dogs mental well being, and yours as well. A mentally satisfied dog will be much more content, be easier to train and handle, and be healthier overall. In the wild dogs travel in packs, constantly looking for their next meal, water source, and shelter. A domestic dog doesn’t usually have to worry about this, in fact most Don’t have to worry about much at all. This leaves many open doors for anxiety and other behavioral issues. Without a job dogs don’t always know what to do with themselves. This is where balance work comes into play. Over the years of training horses and dogs (yes balance work is great for horses as well although in a slightly different form), I have found a huge success especially with my high anxiety dogs that come in for training in doing balance work to help significantly lower their anxiety and reactivity to stressors. In one example I had two high anxiety dogs come in and had a really hard time in their kennels over night. They would howl and cry frantically all night. after two days of the same pattern even though they got plenty of exercise and training throughout the day they still had major anxiety in their kennels and couldn’t calm down. I pulled out my ladder and started with it on the ground teaching them to step on the steps. Next I elevated it up on a bench so it still wasn’t too high, but high enough they didn’t want to fall through the gaps. We did this ladder work for about ten minutes and I noticed a huge change in both of their dispositions. That night both went right in their kennels and were content and quiet all night long. We incorporate a lot of balance work throughout our training. This can help solidify some of the commands we teach the dogs. For example teaching a dog to stay, we can multitask and work on the stay on top of an object that ads an extra thing for the dog to think about and sometimes makes him uncomfortable with having to stay on an object. This learning experience helps them learn how to deal with uncomfortable situations and stay true in their command to stay. In this process we see these dogs gain so much more confidence and they begin to follow commands much faster and with more excitement. Balance work is so important for a dogs overall health. Many dogs when they get older start to break down in their back hips and joints. Balance work helps maintain strength and builds muscle to support their joints, especially in a dogs back end. Overall we send every dog home encouraging balance work. There are so many instant and long term benefits. It’s super easy to spend even just five minutes doing balance work that will help satisfy your dog instantly with lasting results.

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