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Note: Julia Thomson is a contributor to That Mutt. She maintains the blog Home on 129 Acres. Read her past articles for That Mutt here.
Will your dog climb on a picnic table?
For those of you who have answered neither yes nor no, and instead are saying why, hear me out.
The exercise of climbing over a picnic table is good for your dog for three reasons:
1. It builds your dog’s confidence in himself.
Your dog learns to judge the distance between the bench and the ground. He learns how to shift his weight and where to place his feet.
If you watch a puppy do this exercise, you might see her stagger a couple of times as she figures out how to make her legs take her where you want her to go. Once she sorts it out, the result will be a dog who is more able to take on obstacles, whether it’s climbing into a car or over a tree.
2. It stimulates your dog’s mind.
We’ve all heard about how boring a regular walk can be. Climbing over a picnic table is definitely a variation in your regular routine. It’s fun. It’s interesting. If your dog hasn’t done it before, it may be a bit challenging. It gets him thinking about what you’re asking him to do and the best way to do it.
3. It builds your dog’s obedience and trust in you.
The first few times you do this exercise, you should do it with your dog. Hold the leash firmly and lead him up onto the bench and then up onto the table and then down the other side. A little bit of tension on the leash gives your dog a sense of security. You’re giving him clear direction about what you want him to do, and you’re not going to let him fall.
Be prepared to support him if he misplaces a foot or gets too close to the edge. Soon, he’ll learn that you won’t ask him to do anything that puts him in danger.
Climbing over a picnic table may seem like a simple exercise. But it really does build the bond between you and your dog.
Baxter and I practiced this lots through our training classes, but the first time I asked him to climb over a picnic table when he was off leash, I wasn’t sure that he would do it.
[quote_center]The view—and the sniffs—are better up there![/quote_center]
I patted the bench and said, “Up-up.” He didn’t hesitate for a second. He hopped onto the bench, hopped up onto the table and went into a perfect sit. Now he doesn’t hesitate to go “up-up” anytime he gets the chance.
The view—and the sniffs—are better up there!
What are some obstacles your dog likes to climb?
Post a pic of your dog climbing “obstacles” on That Mutt’s Facebook page here.
Past posts from Julia: