A mindfulness practice offers more than stress reduction. Give your mind a break from your constant, controlled thinking and it can come up with some pretty clever stuff without your help.
That’s how I came up with this little obstacles course for Rico and Roxy (R&R). They love it, though I’m sure the plain, air-popped popcorn rewards have something to do with that.
To keep it fun and challenging, I change up the sequence and cadence.
So, here we go ….
From a down position – so a little cue training in here, too – I just bring them up to a stand … without taking a step forward. That way this exercise is like doing a push-up. No equipment, no cost!
There’s no chance I’m setting up a line of weave poles inside. Luckily, I don’t need to. I just needed the two small trash cans from the bathrooms. To accommodate R&R’s body lengths, I set the cans up about 3-3 ½ feet apart, then lead them in “figure 8” and circle patterns around them. Another freebie!
Ah, the old step bench. Recent years, it’s been a plant stand. But now, it’s been restored to its former glory of exercise greatness. Just not mine.
Instead, I have each dog either step up with just their front paws or climb all the way up on top of the bench. It strengthens their legs, but also serves as our pause platform, if you’re into agility. An added bonus, the dogs have learned to enjoy stepping onto the scale at the vet’s office.
And the cost? Free if you have a step, but you can get a new step for as little as $20 online. Or just use an ottoman.
Oodles of Noodles
Pool noodles might be the dogs’ most favorite toy of all time ever. We started off using them as safe, soft obstacles to step over, but they quickly became the most entertaining toys to run with and shake in the yard. And at 60-cents each at the end of summer, that’s just fine by me.
I have to give credit for this one to doggy daddy. Roxy is a natural jumper. She can make eye contact with adults, usually him. So I looked up dog agility hurdles online. The cheapest I could find was $30. Instead, he built one using about $15 in PVC pipe, a miter saw, and a little creativity. He even remembered to cut in half the top two pole holders so the pole could be easily knocked off in case Roxy doesn’t clear it.
Like my photography here, it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.
Now, I know these few challenges will only last so long, so if you have any creative games you came up with on the fly, I would love to hear about them!