Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Evolution of the Ball Studio

Since I've kind of run out of things specifically to talk about with regards to cardiovascular exercise that I do with my dogs to condition them, I thought that it would be fun to do a monthly video on the various exercises I do with them on various different inflatable products to help condition their muscular strength. It essentially kills two birds with one stone. I keep up with my one conditioning blog post a month and I learn how to use some video editing software!;)

Once I started working on the first video, I thought that I should probably give a little introduction into the ball work specifically, how we got started, and the general area that we practice in. It gives a better background so that I'm not just jumping into it right in the middle. I've made one post previously about it, but I didn't go specifically into the exercises.

So how on earth did I get to the point where I thought putting my dogs up on inflatable objects was a good idea? Well, it all started with an email notice about an On The Ball seminar being held at PetUtopia and being taught by Bobbie Lyons. There was a brief description of what would be covered and the general benefits of the various exercises. I'm definitely into trying new things with my dogs, so I figured why not!

When we got started, we were the first giant breed dog to do one of Bobbie's classes. Understandably, there wasn't a ball big enough to try and get Heffner up onto it (this was also pre-Bess). I was fine with that to start with. After all, I wasn't even sure that I could get my dog up on the dang thing! So for the first class we did mostly ground work and I started getting him used to putting his front feet up on a regular sized round ball and rolling that around. I was totally impressed with how willing he was to manipulate the ball! These are some of the pictures taken during the class:

After that first class I was totally hooked! I emailed Bobbie to find out what size of a ball Heffner would need for him to be able to get all the way up on it and where to look. I then ordered my very first 85 cm ball. It was the biggest that I could find at the time and while an adequate starter ball, bigger is definitely better in this case.;) We then brought our brand new giant ball to class! I was QUITE proud of the fact that I had my very own ball that was big enough for my giant dog to get up on! Never mind the fact that I was ecstatic that he would get up on it!

We were having so much fun and it was something that was so incredibly different than anything else we had done before, but was also helping to keep him in shape. For me, it was the coolest thing since sliced bread!

And that's when the the gradual equipment accumulation started!LOL First it was the 85 cm ball. Then I wanted to have a smaller ball that was easier for him to just roll around with his front feet and manipulate at a lower level. So I got a small "human" sized exercise ball.

Once I had those two balls, I simply needed more! Next up was the "human" sized pill ball. I wanted that because the shape of the ball limited how many directions it could go in with the dogs manipulating it. I also wanted to use it as a sort of starter ball to the egg ball to figure out some of the exercises on something a little smaller and easier to manage. The egg ball was also a fair bit more expensive and I couldn't just go buying random exercise balls willy nilly!

After the pill ball naturally came the egg ball! Now with four different exercise balls that the dogs were MORE than happy and excited to just leap onto, I had to start figuring out where in the heck I was going to store them. I also had to store them in the area that I was going to be using them in. You see, the 85 cm ball does NOT fit through ANY of the doorways or hallways in our house. Something that I found out AFTER hand pumping it up to full height in one room while watching TV (took almost an hour) and then trying to wedge it out the door. I definitely learned my lesson after that! I decided that I would store the balls in our downstairs living room that we really don't use for anything else, therefore my collection of balls wouldn't be in the way.:o)

The more classes and seminars that I took from Bobbie, the more equipment that I wanted to get and utilize with the dogs. However, I was seriously running out of room with just the four balls that I had. What to do, what to do? I know! Since I don't ever park my truck in the garage (mostly because "my" half of the garage doesn't have a door that actually functions), why don't I convert that half of the garage into my own ball studio??!! Splendid idea! One small problem. That half of the garage was seriously trashed. No seriously. This is what it started off looking like:
At that point, I was still bagging the dogs meals in the kitchen and then just absent-mindedly tossing the boxes into the "empty" part of the garage. No, that was not the smartest idea ever. I spent a weekend cleaning up all of that crap. Thankfully the garage went from looking like the above picture, to looking like this:
All it needed now was some sweeping and mopping and then I could start moving the balls in and getting things set up! I wanted to eventually mat the whole floor, but that too was going to take time. Once again, mats cost money, and I was already spending enough on these random inflatable objects. But things progressed and it started looking more like what I had imagined.
Finally I accumulated my giant 120 cm ball and a few other items. I was initially paranoid about using the 120 cm ball in the garage because I wasn't sure that I had appropriate space and I really need to be able to prop it up against something. So I started just working the dogs on it outside in our covered porch area, up against the side of the house.

I am now quite happy having everything inside my little ball studio and have figured out how to arrange things and make them work in the space that I have. It may not be huge, but it definitely works for our needs!
I've even hung up a little bit of dane paraphernalia to decorate the door leading into the garage!

And tomorrow will be my first attempt at an edited video!!


brooke said...

Wow! Thats alot of big balls! haahha
How did you manage to get them up on one in the first place?! I cant imagine Darwin willingly climbing up on a ball.... after all... it MOVES! anything that moves tends to startle her!

Emma Rose said...

That is so cool. We have a couple of balls but I never thought of holding them against the wall to steady them. Oh and I love you door sign!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

i'm excited for your video to come!!! I have a ball, problaly too small for Vito, but never do anything with it. I just don't know what exercises to do!

Schwang said...

So I never heard of this for dogs before reading your blog. I am still amazed you get them on there; maybe they can parlay their talents into a circus act on the side.

M.T. said...

All i can say is: Great Dane ... on ... ball ... = WOW!