Wobbly Board Fears

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creiter
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Wobbly Board Fears

Postby creiter » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:59 pm

Hey all! First I suppose I should start this by saying Duke and I are not ever planning on being professionals or competing against other dogs... he is slightly reactive to anything that he perceives as being "strange"; this typically comes across as fear aggression. If you have read any of my posts, you know the many different ways I have been working with Duke and know how freaking fabulous he is despite these struggles. I love him to pieces and love every second I get to spend with him! He taught me so much about being a good owner.

ANYWAY back to the problem at hand. We take an abundance of classes, agility, fun and games, tracking, etc, not to compete professionally but to give him an opportunity to be around strange dogs/people/objects and behave calmly and stay focused on me. It has done wonders and he loves it all! HOWEVER... he has a HUGE fear of any unstable ground. He is great on the A Frame and Plank, but if it moves, he is horrified. One class introduced the "wobbly" board; again, this is not a class for PROFESSIONAL agility people, just people wanting to be guided by professional trainers who know how to keep the fun and exercise safe and healthy for dogs (the trainers are very good about teaching the obstacles slowly, safely, and correctly) while working on other obedience commands like watch me, etc. Because of his fear, he is not allowed to even attempt it anymore or else he will only grow more fearful... he will lock up and not move if you get close to the wobbly board (about an inch off the ground, a board that wobbles slightly when you step on it) ... instead, he gets treats for touching, pawing, etc, the board (after he has gained the courage to approach it at all).

The problem is, it is a class of multiple dogs and there is not a lot of time to do the proper positive training I want with him and the wobbly board. Rather, it has kind of become an object we "pass". I really want to find a way to practice the concept of walking on unstable ground at home. Does anyone have any ideas on how to do this safely? Crafty ideas?

Duke just seems totally unconfident in his ability to balance. It took a lot of training to teach him to stand up on his back legs or to jump up, he doesn't seem to understand HE WILL BE OKAY even if not all 4 paws are stable on the ground. Roll over is also a currently impossible trick unless I use much bribing and help guide him over on to his back, and even then he flops like a fish out of water! I would love to get him more confident in his body (it sounds like I am the mom of a teenager girl now).... is that a silly thing to want to do? I just love the opportunity to build his confidence in fun, game-like ways. He is so graceful when he wants to be, I wish I could video him doing the weave poles, holy cow he is perfection!

Any help on activities I can do at home to help Duke with his balance and body movement confidence would be great. Kind of a silly request, but I hate seeing him afraid of things and would love to help him overcome it.

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Leslie H
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Re: Wobbly Board Fears

Postby Leslie H » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:48 pm

http://smartydog-agility.com/activity_info.html

I'm going to this center tomorrow for a Core class. Core can be used for agility, but it's really body awareness and control. Dogs learn to get up on and balance on unstable surfaces. There are different pods and inflated things
http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=2149 as well as things w/rungs that they need to step on or around.

I guess w/your dog, I'd wonder about his body awareness. Does he know where his rear is? Lots of dogs don't. I think before I encouraged him to get on a wobbly surface, I could teach him to put one foot on a solid surface, then on a less stable one.
http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-shows/full-body-awareness-in-agility.aspx

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FransterDoo
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Re: Wobbly Board Fears

Postby FransterDoo » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:47 am

You can get the balance pod things for people on Amazon and that's what we use.

http://www.amazon.com/Isokinetics-Brand ... m_sbs_sg_4

I'd suggest just lots of small, positive interactions with wobbly stuff. lot of high value treats and increase the interactions slowly. Basically what you are doing but at home - you'll be able to do really short sessions (like less than a minute in the beginning) without the pressure of class.

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creiter
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Re: Wobbly Board Fears

Postby creiter » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:53 pm

Very cool links, thank you both!! Would I need to buy multiple balance boards (the amazon link) to create something he could walk across, or is that more for simple 'rest your paw here' exercises?

I think he does have body awareness, he is just 'self conscious' about it (obviously a human emotion but you know what I mean lol). For example, he is great at the dog walk which is narrow and high off the ground; he has never misplaced a step or anything. He is also great at doing the weave pole tightly and doesn't hit the poles, so I feel like he has a sense of where his body is at. I think it is a fear based issue, he shows signs if discomfort when near it (hence it become a 'pass' object for us in class and me wanting to work on it at home to reassociate instability with positive things).

I think having the proper tools at home will give me the opportunity to slowly teach him wobbly ground is okay. Thank you so much for the resources!! Gotta love the knowledge bank of this forum!

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Leslie H
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Re: Wobbly Board Fears

Postby Leslie H » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:00 pm

At the core class, one of the stations was a board about 4 inches off the floor. One end had a wobbly thing under it, the other end was steady. The instructor said you could vary these, based on the dog, by putting firmer or wobblier items under them.
She used "karate pads" under some obstacles, dense foam rectangles that had some give, but not a lot.
http://www.karatestop.com/TrainingEquipment.php

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FransterDoo
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Re: Wobbly Board Fears

Postby FransterDoo » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:53 pm

creiter wrote:Very cool links, thank you both!! Would I need to buy multiple balance boards (the amazon link) to create something he could walk across, or is that more for simple 'rest your paw here' exercises?

I think he does have body awareness, he is just 'self conscious' about it (obviously a human emotion but you know what I mean lol). For example, he is great at the dog walk which is narrow and high off the ground; he has never misplaced a step or anything. He is also great at doing the weave pole tightly and doesn't hit the poles, so I feel like he has a sense of where his body is at. I think it is a fear based issue, he shows signs if discomfort when near it (hence it become a 'pass' object for us in class and me wanting to work on it at home to reassociate instability with positive things).

I think having the proper tools at home will give me the opportunity to slowly teach him wobbly ground is okay. Thank you so much for the resources!! Gotta love the knowledge bank of this forum!



I'd say it's really up to you and him since you know him best :)

I have 2 of the blow-up pods and do fronts on one and back on the other. We've also used a square of wood over a wobble board or even just marking and rewarding for playing around with a skate board.


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