Are you looking for some motivation to get more consistent with your yoga routine? Ever think about inviting your dog to join you? Perhaps you will find some inspiration in Harvey the Golden Retriever, a super cute and talented pooch who has mastered a very special skill he has taken to showing off in front of his mom’s yoga classes in Denver, Colorado.
Harvey Loves Balancing His Ball
At yoga class
After a dip in the water
With or without an audience
…but especially with an audience
How Harvey Learned the Trick
7-year-old Golden Harvey and mom Erica Mackiewicz have been together since Harvey was a 10-week-old puppy. The two share a very special bond and Harvey has been accompanying his mom to work and attending yoga classes for the last two years.
Mackiewicz explained that since he started coming to class, Harvey has stolen the show; class participants love seeing him and shower him with treats. “I swear they come more for him than the yoga,” she said.
Harvey’s signature yoga pose—made famous via his Instagram—is to lay on his back and balance tennis balls on his two front paws. Mackiewicz explained this impressive balancing act is self-taught.
“Harvey started doing this as a puppy and he figured out how to do it all on his own!” Mackiewicz explained. In addition to his signature ball balancing moves, Harvey’s other favorite yoga move is the downward dog (naturally). And, when he’s not busy helping teach yoga classes, Mackiewicz says that Harvey loves to hike.
Yoga With Harvey
Harvey’s yoga class is a family affair. In addition to helping his mom teach the class, which takes place at Ironton Distillery, Harvey “is also the dad of the head distiller’s dog, Ludo,” said Mackiewicz.
If you attend yoga at Ironton you’re likely to have a chance to meet both Harvey and Ludo, however, balance skills don’t run in the family. Ludo has yet to develop his dad’s flair for balancing tennis balls and participating in classes.
Currently Harvey’s yoga class occurs every Tuesday through the end of September at 6 p.m. (for dates beyond September, stay tuned on Harvey’s instagram).
How to Teach Your Dog to Balance Balls, Treats, or Toys
Although Harvey developed his balancing skills himself, if you’re inspired by his amazing talent or even have a dog like Ludo, you can teach your dog to balance balls on their head or paws.
It’s easiest to start with something flat like a business card, playing card, or small plush toy. The goal when picking something for your dog to balance is to start with an object that is light, relatively flat, and will be easier for your dog to keep balanced. After your dog has mastered this, you can progress further towards more dynamic or dimensional objects.
Step 1: Start by showing the balance object to your dog to make sure they aren’t worried or spooked about it. Treat and praise your dog when your dog sniffs the object and shows interest.
Step 2: Next, place the card or toy onto your dog’s head, nose, paws, or toes. Praise your dog. Immediately remove the object, and praise and treat your dog.
Step 3: Over a series of sessions, very slowly, just seconds at a time, build up how long your dog is balancing the object, remembering to treat and praise your dog each time.
Step 4: Over time, your dog will build their balancing skills and you can increase the length of time that they are balancing and start to diversify the kind of objects you ask your dog to balance, right on up to tennis balls like Harvey, or even treats. The more experienced your dog gets with the trick, you can start to shift the part of your dog’s body where they are balancing the toy (from the head to the nose, for example). For most dogs, it will be easiest to start with balancing on the head or nose, before moving onto paws while they are lying on their back.
Note: If you find that your dog keeps dropping the object before you remove it, you’re likely asking your dog to hold for too long. Next time, ask your dog to balance just for a second or two, then praise and reward. From there you can start working back up to asking your dog to balance for longer periods of time.
Special thanks to Erica Mackiewicz for the interview and photos!