The first game starts with building value for being on the board. You can do this by giving rewards any time your dog gets on the board. Since this is a precision task, it’s easiest to do this with a clicker, but you can also do it with a marker word. As you progress, increase your criteria of rewarding only when your dog gets one, two, and eventually all four paws on the board.
If you don’t have a board for balancing, you can check out our instructions for how to make one for under $10.
Don’t forget to have lots of breaks in between building the value. Not only is this a great stress reliever for your dog who has been focusing on figuring out what you want, but it also gives you a chance to see how the value is building. If your dog starts going straight back to the board when you put the toy away, then you know you’re ready to progress to the next level.
Don't forget to take lots of breaks to play while training your dog!
Now things get more difficult. Put the board on anything that’s not as big as the board so it wobbles a bit. You could use a book, a pillow (our favorite), half a ball. Anything is fair game. Your dog will need to use all her muscles to stay balanced and may look goofy at first, but keep your reinforcement rate high and sessions fun and soon your dog will be excited any time you pull out the balance board.
As your dog gets better, you can increase the “wobbliness” of the board to make it more difficult. Has she mastered one pillow–what about two? Try to come up with fun things to do on the board. Play tug. Practice sits and downs. Ask for a high five or shake.
We’ve got another game to share in a couple days. Until then, you can play this game building up difficulty depending on your dog’s confidence and ability. If you try any of these techniques in Clicker Tracker, tag your sessions spwh. Leave your ideas, comments, and questions down below.