Teaching your puppy balance skills is a great way to increase focus, strength, and proprioception (specifically rear-end awareness). The people over at FitPaws USA have a ton of great products from puppy pods to giant beans which are a ton of fun, but they can get to be very expensive. If you don't run a professional dog training center or dog rehabilitation clinic, you can use this simple $10 solution using things you can get from your local hardware store.
What’s the Deal with Rear-End Awareness?
Why is teaching rear-end awareness important? The biggest reason is that some puppies have a difficult time isolating their back paws which can make certain kinds of training very difficult. Here are just a few examples of where rear-end awareness can help:
- Better heel position during pivots.
- Teaching “back up.”
- Decreasing the number of knocked bars.
- Improving understanding 2-on-2-off position for contacts.
- Check out our $10 balance board after the break.
The Ten Dollar Balance Board
This balance board is probably one of the easiest things you can make. If you go to the lumber aisle in your local hardware store, you should find a selection of 2 ft by 2 ft pre-cut boards. It doesn’t really matter what material you use so just pick whichever seems sturdy enough for your dog and cheap enough for your budget.
The other item you probably want is a roll of that non-stick shelf material. I found some in bright yellow for $3. Wrap it around the board and cut it so you can tape it down with some heavy duty tape. This is optional but it does help increase traction.
That’s it! If you want to make it extra fancy, you can skip the non-stick material and paint it, pour sand on it, tap it on the ground to get the excess sand off, and paint it again. But that’s up to you.
Check back later this week for a couple of great games you can play with your new balance board!