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.
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.
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).
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.
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, 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!