As a young girl, my favorite activity to do with my dog was build obstacles for him to conquer. Whether it was rearranging the furniture or using other household objects to create jumps and tunnels, it never ceased to entertain me and make me so proud of my super-dog. When we adopted Norah and Jones, my love for confidence building exercises grew into accomplishing natural obstacles on our various hiking trails. From large fallen trees, to old stone walls, our dogs knew no bounds. It was most amazing having two small dogs with little hesitation. As their confidence grew, we began noticing them attempting different obstacles that we hadn’t even noticed (such as scaling a wall we simply walked up next to).
Due to my limitations with my disabilities, it has been difficult to give our two bigger pups, Nihmh and Khoena, the same sort of training. It’s often rare for me to get out of the house, let alone have the enough energy by the time we arrive at a trail. Life is certainly different, but we’ve been making an effort to make the best of our situation and what abilities we do have. We’re thankful we now live on a five acre ranch where we can still take walks “close to home” and where we still have natural obstacles, such as large boulders and bent trees. Just recently we used our horses’ hay bales to set up an obstacle with a ramp, a large gap to jump and a long plank to walk across.
Having seen movies such as Dante’s Peak where their dog had to run on the hillside next to their truck and then leap into their truck bed to be rescued, it’s always been important to me to work on such challenges before they’re life threatening. From using the couch and barstool indoors to the large boulders and hay stacks outdoors, we also work on the dogs’ trust in letting us catch them when they take a leap of faith into our arms below. If you read our first post All About Nihmh, you know that Nihmh’s naturally shy and timid. I have found these sorts of exercises to be one of the best to build her confidence in herself and strengthen her trust in me. It has been heart-warming to see her tackle various challenges and be so proud of herself.
We all have different abilities, different environments and different options. We would love to hear what you use to work on building confidence with your dog! Perhaps it will give us a few ideas to incorporate on the ranch.