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The Elegance of Gymnastics and Dog Training

Guest article by Julie Stack ~ Thank you for submitting

I always look forward to the Womens’ Olympic gymnastics sports competitions. The Olympic gymnasts are mesmerizing to watch as they tackle each apparatus with such grace, artistic ability, strength, and flexibility.  A gymnast must have complete focus, strength and coordination to perform well, especially on the balance beam.  As I watched the Olympics this year, I wondered if there are similarities between gymnastics and the world of dog training.  For one, it takes time to learn and practice whether you’re a dog trainer or giving that dazzling gymnastic performance.

I have always been in awe of the balance beam, since it requires not just technical ability, but strength and timing can make or break you.  Consider the careful steps one must take and the timing it takes to always land on the balance  beam after each back walkover or giant leap in the air; if you misjudge the distance, you will fall.  As I train with the shelter dogs, I often think about that fine line one must walk with the dogs and its similarity to a  gymnast walking on the balance beam.  Just as with gymnastics, you need to hit that mark each time or deliver your dog treat on time when teaching a dog  “sit” or  “down” so that the dog understands the association. In gymnastics the goal is to always stay on the balance beam without losing balance, and in dog training you need to keep your balance also, and stay focused on your dog so he does not get distracted.  Becoming a world class gymnast requires rigorous training hours and discipline to achieve Olympic dreams.  Dog training also requires discipline and focus and trying to help the dog you are working with achieve greatness, so they have a stronger chance to be adopted or make progress during training classes.

Several active star canine athletes are Prince and BeeBee at the Washington Humane Society. They are roommates also, and I really enjoy their company when I volunteer. BeeBee has a beautiful brindle coat, and is definitely the one who wants to be taken out first, and she is very confident and wants to go out in the yard to work on training or run around with her friend Prince. BeeBee is a whirlwind, and if she were a person, she would be a world traveler! She has very attentive sits that would score her a perfect score in the Olympic games!

The other great guy, Prince is very charming, and has a warm presence, he looks to you for confidence and is polite and really wants to be a part of your home!

Please consider fostering or adopting Prince or BeeBee. They are located at Washington Humane Society , 1201 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC, 20002. If you would like to do anything extra to help Prince or BeeBee, please contact Danielle Bays at

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