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Will Your Dog Climb On A Picnic Table?

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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.

Baxter the boxer mix

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.

Baxter the dog climbs on picnic table

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]

Will your dog climb on a picnic table

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:

Off-leash hiking with your dog

How to train your dog to be off leash


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

We are not supposed to climb on things like that, but the other day doing a nose work search at a picnic area, out of the blue, Bailie got up on the picnic table for her search and found the hide from the top. It was funny to see since we don't ever to on them, only under!

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Sunday 17th of April 2016

Bax doesn't hesitate to climb under things when he needs to, but I haven't taught him to do it on command. Maybe that should be next on my list!


Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Next post - How to get your dog do STOP climbing on the picnic table... :)

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Sunday 17th of April 2016

The sniffs are better up there!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Haha! Now why would you want to stop him? :)


Tuesday 12th of April 2016

My dog LOVES climbing on picnic tables! We have a couple at our favorite dog park and I always like seeing which dogs boldly leap up like they're king of the mountain and which dogs will timidly scratch at their owner's lap asking to be lifted up. I am a pet photographer so I'm always asking Hiccup to climb on weird things and hold a stay so I can take pictures. He's such a good sport and I think it really has built his confidence and trust in me. Just last night we were all at my father-in-laws house and I was practicing some simple tricks with our new puppy. Hiccup wanted treats, too, but I wanted him to do something more complex than "sit" so I put him in a stay and walked behind a couch and out of his sight, then told him to come. I figured he'd walk around the couch, maybe be a little confused, but he just climbed right over the couch and jumped down the back right in front of me and sat down in a perfect traditional come. I think if he had a mic he would have dropped it.

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Yay, Hiccup! So smart! That's a good tip about photography. Different locations definitely make for more interesting pictures.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 12th of April 2016


Vanessa & Rufus

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

I do this with Ru all the time! Whenever a park gives us an obstacle (rocks, sticks, stumps, picnic tables, etc), we take the opportunity and roll with it!

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

That's awesome. It's a simple way to inject some interest into your walks.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

We do as well!