By Gemma Fisher
Confidence breeds success. And an important part of building our dog’s self-confidence is preparation.
Proprioception is a key part of this – it’s building our dog’s perception or awareness of their position and the movement of their body. Understanding how their body works will mean their able to use it to best effect when they come to run, jump and power their way around an agility course.
It’s also one of the easiest things to incorporate into daily life with your dog too. You don’t need any fancy kit, in fact just walking in your local woodlands is a fantastic place to start.
What we’re aiming to do is have our dogs move over different surfaces. We want their feet to experience different things to send a variety of information up to their brain. If they only ever walked over level surfaces, they wouldn’t develop the ability to balance and compensate when necessary over uneven ground.
You can build your own proprioception kit out of everyday household items such as
- Different textured door mats e.g. coir/ rubber/ material/ astro turf
- Bubble wrap
- Cardboard covered in tin foil
- Cardboard boxes
- Bath mats – non-slip for inside the bath, and ones for outside the bath
And if you want to add to your collection, you can add in things your dog has to clamber onto or step over too:
- Gun dog platform (wooden platform covered in astro turf)
- Fitness step
- Wobble cushion
- Fitpaws Fitbone
- Cones & poles
- Hula hoops
I’m looking for my dogs to move slowly through a proprioception path, and for them to be able to pause when I ask as well. Rushing through things quickly is easier for them, particularly if they’re not sure.
Quite often dogs who move really rapidly when faced with something new are really just saying “Let’s get through this as quickly as possible to get it over with!”. Real confidence is when they’re able to hold themselves together and move thoughtfully – amazing preparation for the agility equipment we want them to learn in the future!
Check out Tellington TTouch Training for more information and ideas on building your dogs confidence.
Gemma Fisher is an knowledgeable and inspiring agility instructor, dog trainer and behaviourist. Her experience comes from working with a variety of people and different breeds of dogs, both in person and online. Her goal is to make learning FUN because that’s how you engage best with people AND dogs! Check out her website for more help & advice: www.fisherfixdogs.com or follow her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gemmafisherfix/