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DIY Wobble Board For Your Dog

Birdie is doing well these days (knock on all the wood) and she’s been fully mobile for a while, so our new goal is to rebuild muscle in her leg. In order to do that, she has to learn that’s it’s ok to use it again, since she’s been avoiding putting weight on it for so long. (Need to catch up? You can read about Birdie’s ACL tear and rehab here and here)

One way to do that is to use a Wobble Board. At physical therapy, our therapist had Birdie stand on one as we gently moved the board around. This forced Birdie to shift her weight to the atrophied leg and activated those weaker muscles as she balanced herself.

I don’t have any photos of Birdie on the board because my hands are always full – I’m holding her in place so she’s secure, but you can see a Wobble Board in action here.

We wanted to keep this up at home, but money is tight, so I couldn’t buy a new Wobble Board. Birdie’s therapist suggested I make my own.

I found a piece of kitchen counter top from the 1950’s (check out that mid-century metallic flecking) sitting around the house and it practically screamed “I wanna rock your dog’s world!”. Who am I to deny an old kitchen counter a new life as physical therapy equipment for my dog?

And so it was born: The Kitchen Counter Weeble Wobble. Also known as the DIY project for people who don’t want to measure much or cut anything.

This is how you can make something similar at your house:

1. Find a piece of counter top, a table top, or get some plywood. It should be big enough that your dog can stand on it with all four legs.

wobble board

2. Next you’ll need a softball, an approx. 4 inch screw, and a couple of washers. Find the center of the ball and with a drill, screw that, uh, screw through the ball and into the center of the board. We stuck a washer between the board and the ball for good measure.

board back

3. Now you’ll need something to act as tread for your dogs. I used rubbery shelf liners. You can also use adhesive stair treads/strips or any variety of gripping, non-skid tape. To get my drawer liners to stick, I used Gorilla Glue (with rubber gloves because I prefer my fingertips with the skin on them).

board supplies

4. After I laid down the tread, I smushed it down real good. If you’re wondering, that’s exactly how Bob Villa describes this step in “This Old Wobble Board.”  And then I let it dry overnight.

board front

5. Done! Wobble it Baby.

board pinterest

Note: this is a pretty steeply angled board. I hold Birdie while she’s on it so she doesn’t hurt herself launching off of it. You can learn how to make a real deal, cut your own pieces of wood, lower wobble board here so you can do more rehab exercises like these.

Don’t want to make one? You can buy a Wobble Board. Check out this one from Fit Paws.

Not sure if you need one of these bad boys in your life? Here’s a few ways your dogs might benefit from the Wobble Board:

1. They improve balance, mobility, and joint strength.

2. If your dog wants to impress all the other dogs at Pilates, they’ll need one of these to work their core.

3. They can help boost your dog’s confidence. Shy dogs can benefit from from tackling weird stuff like this. Start slow and reward generously. Next thing you know, your shy dog will be boldly asking the head cheerleader to Prom.

4. They can help get your dog ready for the Teeter Totter in agility. This is a good intro to all moving thingamajigs.

5. They increase body awareness which can be helpful for just about any dog. Working with the board helps them to become more aware of all four of their limbs. Or two limbs.

 

In other Birdie-Busts-a-Move news, her physical therapist got a brand new, state of the art space ship  hydrotherapy treadmill which we got to try out for the first time last month.

birdie treadmill 2

Birdie, who is as excited about swimming as I am about doing my taxes, did much better on the treadmill than in the pool. I think she liked that she could keep her head above water. She walked at a good pace for 10 minutes. The point? To rebuild that skinny leg!

birdie treadmill

Wobble On!



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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Victoria Carter #

    Ugh! ACL tears suck! I have personal experience with them. Late summer of ’12 I was having knee pain, only discover I had a completely severed ACL. Don’t know when or how it happened, but went in for surgery that fall to get it repaired. I am still working on getting it to 100% strength. About a week before I was diagnosed with a tear my cat Belle was also diagnosed with and ACL tear! My Dr. gave me the oddest look when I burst out laughing at the coincidence of two ACL diagnoses within a week!

    Also a friend of mine from the bark park, has an Akita named Shiner. Shortly after Shiner’s 1st birthday it was discovered that BOTH of his ACLs were torn! Talk about tough! A year after surgery and therapy (he also used and loved those aquatic treadmills) you wouldn’t know he has/had knee issues!

    I wish Birdie the best of luck, and can personally sympathize with the struggle of regaining use of a limb! I’m sure she’ll do great, patience and lots of love is what she’ll need to help her through this.

    January 10, 2014
    • Wow, that’s some year you guys had! Is there such as thing as a cat having a “sympathy ACL tear”? Hope you’re all feeling back to normal in 2014!

      January 10, 2014
  2. lucysmom8 #

    Love your DIY WOBBLE Board! Go Birdie go!

    January 10, 2014
    • You mean Bark Boogie Bark! He wouldn’t even walk past it when it was in the living room at first!

      January 10, 2014
  3. Lisa #

    My 3-year-old beagle tweaked his back and is recovering. Could something like this help prevent injuries from happening for dogs who jump a lot (by building strength)?

    January 10, 2014
    • Hi Lisa, It builds core strength and balance overall (which in general is good for backs), but I can’t say for sure if it would be safe for your guy. You may want to check with your vet about this in relation to your dog’s injury/recovery. I hope he’s feeling better soon!

      January 10, 2014
  4. So glad to hear Birdie is on the mend! I’ve heard A LOT of good things about Gail’s underwater treadmill. Hopefully neither of my dogs will have to use it, but if they do it’s nice to know there is state-of-the art equipment locally!

    January 10, 2014
    • It’s pretty amazing and so much bigger than you’d imagine. If Sarge is every feeling a little creaky, I bet he’d enjoy it!

      January 10, 2014
  5. I made mine with a tuna can screwed to the bottom center – then you can size the ball as you like. Usually mine is used with a tennis ball, which sits in the can nearly perfectly.

    January 10, 2014
  6. This is a great post. The lamenting of making decisions for our animals is always hard. TPL surgery is so expensive – and the age thing. I’m going to make one of these for my nearly 14 year old Aussie Shep mix who had the TPL surgery at 18 months on one leg. She’s done great but is having some arthritis and muscle atrophy in that leg from starting to favor it. I talked to our vet and he said Lucy would get benefit from this! THANK YOU!

    January 11, 2014
  7. SusanS #

    Great idea! You can start out the “wobble” at a low level by placing folded towels under the edges, so that the board just moves a bit at first, so your dog can get comfortable with it.

    January 21, 2014
  8. Julia Bentley #

    My first dog had surgery for her CCL too. A nice simple at home exercise is have dog put her front legs up on something stable (I used the couch) then gently lift her good leg in a way that she isn’t putting her weight into your hand, so now all her weight is on the repaired leg in a gentle way. Hold for a short duration, building time as the leg gets stronger. I even did the exercises as a refresher later in life.

    January 21, 2014
    • That is a good one – I like the idea of using the couch that way. Thanks Julia!

      We’ve been putting a bootie (like the ones dogs wear in the snow) on Birdie’s rear, good leg for short periods as a way to shift her weight onto her other leg. The funny sensation of wearing the bootie causes her to linger just a second or two longer on the leg she’s rebuilding. It seems to help and it’s entertaining for us to watch! ; )

      January 22, 2014
      • Julia Bentley #

        Cute! One thing I love about the couch exercise is that you can really see the progress because you count how long they hold the position. Seeing my girl go from a couple of seconds to 20-30 told me we were really making a difference.

        January 22, 2014

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