After seeing some YouTube videos and even a professional DVD that showed dogs and puppies being placed on exercise balls and held there while they were clearly stressed and uncomfortable, I decided to make a video showing how I introduced my dogs to the ball. We went comparatively slowly, over the course of a few days, with no force or pressure. I wanted my dogs to have a great association with the ball and no anxiety attached to it. So from the very beginning they always had a choice; they could walk away, jump off, take a break.
As is typical, giving them choice in the matter and building good associations made them absolutely fanatically fixated on getting on the ball! And once more, going slow turned out to be fast!
You can see in the short video that I used a combination of shaping, targeting, and treat placement to get Zani happily on the ball in a few daily sessions. This method can be used to introduce a dog to all sorts of unfamiliar objects and equipment.
Zani’s a confident little dog and I probably could have done it all in one day, but 1) I wanted to take no risks of rushing her psychologically; and 2) we are dealing with a physical skill that builds muscles, and I didn’t want to overdo.
If you are considering getting an exercise ball for your dog, be sure and check it out with your vet. Also, size the ball correctly (CleanRun and the ball vendors such as can help with that). I hope your dog enjoys it as much as Zani does.
I like easy ways (for me!) to exercise my dogs. Don’t forget flirt poles, too!
Thanks for watching!
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