When I adopted my border collie-cattle dog mix, Niner, there was one thing that was immediately apparent: this dog needed daily mental and physical challenges. Incredibly smart, relentlessly energetic, and with an indefatigable drive for work, I needed to come up with ways for him to be happy living in a city. Our daily walks became our time for learning and challenging my dog to try new things.

Most dogs don't know how to balance on small objects right away — they barely know where their back feet are most of the time. So little by little we worked on teaching him where his back feet are, how to get all four feet onto a little surface, jumping onto small platforms, balancing on shaky surfaces, climbing and, importantly, safely getting off of things. His balance got better, the obstacles got smaller or taller, his confidence grew, and best of all, we've bonded over the fun we have together.

Now, we treat our 5-mile-a-day walks like a treasure hunt. He knows the look in my eye when I've spotted something that might be a platform, and gets excited about where I'm going to point him. He runs to his favorite hydrants and posts, gives me a look to make sure it's okay, and jumps up on his own. Walks are now anything but boring, and provide more exercise than we'd get during a simple stroll. And we always capture an iPhone snap of the best of the balancing acts he does.

You can follow all our balancing adventures on Instagram and see a couple of examples below.

dog on fire hydrant on wall

dog on tree stump

dog on fire hydrant

dog on statues

dog balancing on hydrant

dog walking on brick wall

dog sitting on front stoop

dog on two fire hydrants

dog on lion statue

dog on street corner

dog on front porch

dog dancing on rock

dog on fence post

dog with statues

dog on window ledge

dog on wall

dog near golden gate bridge

dog in tree

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Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Photographer and her rescue dog make city walks more fun with balancing tricks
I knew the average walk wasn't going to cut it for this high-energy dog. Here's how we made things more interesting, in photos.