A wobble board is a dog training tool, consisting of a board mounted on a device devoted to make its footing unstable. Agility trainers might use a wobble board to prepare a dog for the teeter obstacle, while others might use a wobble board in training class to improve a puppy's balance or confidence.
The Wobble Board
Wobble boards (rocker boards) consist of round or rectangular boards attached to an object that allow them to move freely when a dog stands on them or walks across them. Agility trainer Diane Blackman, however, suggests that a rocker/teeter board may be attached to a pipe centred horizontally or vertically along the underside of the plank. The typical wobble board is coated with a non-slip surface.
Introducing a Dog to the Wobble Board
Dog Play Agility suggests starting the dog on an immobile board, placing its food dish on the board to get the dog used to the unfamiliar surface under its feet. Gradually remove the support from under the board, making it increasingly more unsteady. This gradual change allows "your dog to know it is unsteady but (that) your dog can control whether it moves." Once the dog is comfortable with the moving board, it can be encouraged to place its front paws on it, to walk across it or to balance on it. Once the dog is comfortable with the board under its feet, it can then be used as part of more specialised training.
Using a Wobble Board for Agility Training
The rectangular wobble board is best for agility preparation. Once the dog accepts the moving board under its feet, a piece of metal or PVC pipe should be secured horizontally at the centre of the board to form a "teeter" board. Once again, the board should be immobile when the dog is first introduced to it. Once the dog is comfortable with crossing the immobile board from one end to the other, then the range of the board's tilt should be gradually increased.
Puppy Confidence Building
Some timid puppies benefit from simple confidence-boosting challenges. Wobble board exercises are intended to encourage the puppy to take control of its physical world, making either round or rectangular boards equally suitable. Introduce the board in the same manner as for agility training, gradually moving from a stationary board to one that wobbles freely. Once the puppy has become accustomed to the moving board, place the wobble board into its regular play area: the puppy may soon come up with games of its own just to see the board move.
Building a Wobble Board
To build a simple wobble board, pre-cut a rectangular board to its desired length. Pre-cut a piece of PVC pipe to the width of the board, as well. Find the horizontal centre of the board and mark two lines the width of the pipe across the width of the board. Drill two pairs of holes through which to thread twine, wire or some other fastener to hold the pipe in place. Make certain the pipe should be drawn up firmly against the board, so that it does not slip when the dog is on it.
If a less stable surface is preferable, agility trainer Ann Embry recommends attaching a ball to the board. One simple method for doing so would be to drive a long screw through the board into a softball.
Wobble boards are commercially marketed as "Buja" boards.
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