Learning about balance

yellow lab puppy on disk

Ruby learning to balance on the disk

With Charlie off to his new home we are starting the training cycle all over again with two new puppies; this time two yellow sisters, Ruby and Harley.  If you think housebreaking one puppy takes reflexes faster than a speeding bullet, try two!  The one nice thing about having two pups though is they play a lot with each other.  We take care that they have separate time too so they do not become too dependent on each other’s presence. It is important in a puppy’s education to learn how to handle time alone. Done correctly you will not have separation anxiety issues.  Separation anxiety can result in a lot of damage to your home and be potentially a hazard to your dog’s health.

These girls are doing fine and play with all their toys for hours on end.  They invent games that seem to have rules too. Last night for example they ran through the sitting room area, around the kitchen island, and then Ruby who had the toy she was keeping away from Harley dived under the dining room table. It seem while under the chair legs she was in a “safe” zone.  Well, Harley figured Ruby would have to come out sooner or later and waited on the other side to ambush her and steal the toy. Then the game started all over again.

Sprinkled through the play area we set up obstacles and different textured things for them walk on, crawl over and just plain experience.  There are many benefits to their development in having them do these things, in addition to the great lesson of not being afraid of anything. For example, one thing they learn to negotiate early on is a FitPaws™ balance disk and also the balance cushion.  An agility competitor, retired physical therapist friend, Kim Sector, introduced me to this wonderful piece of conditioning equipment.  At first we just let the pups get use to it being there, and then we teach them how to stand and balance on it so they become aware of their body position.  The shifting weight, as Kim explained to me, increases their strength along the trunk and helps with core muscle tone. It also helps with general range of motion. What I see though is a great improvement in reaction and timing.

All this early exposure to things builds confidence as well. The job these pups will do as they mature is very serious and I feel there can never be too much preparation.  Physically all this playing really helps the growing pups but there is also the mental development aspect that I feel is just as important.  We teach the pups to play with dog puzzle toys and engage them in problem solving games. It is fascinating to me to watch them figure things out and get better and better at something. You can actually see them acquire the skill to master harder and more difficult puzzles as they mature in body and mind.  Long gone are the days of “give a dog a bone and leave him alone”. Thank goodness. The differences I see in the pups raised with the benefits of a physical and mentally enriched education are nothing short of awesome.