“You should see him, Dr Johnny,” Ali, my house call client, shared last evening. “He starts halfway down the steps, jumps and sails right over the baby gate. It’s the coolest thing!” This is the dog that two months ago . . was afraid of going down the row house stairs.
Everything’s cool until someone gets hurt.
Didn’t my mother first say that? I don’t remember . . . but it’s like the old saying, ‘everything’s funny until it isn’t.’
I, like you, see jumping dogs all the time. They leap from furniture, leap for the ball, the frisbee, the tossed toy. Depending on the breed, constant leaping can traumatize the back and increase the likelihood of spinal injury. Some breeds are built for agility. Usually these are the sporting or working breeds. However, it’s oftentimes the toy breeds and other small breed dogs which come up limping suddenly — often unrelated to a true sporting endeavor.
Great! But how do I control something that happens . . . innaflash!
I’m smiling. Writing these words reminds me of trying to control an ex-lover who insisted on walking in the snow, on the cell phone, without a holding onto anything for balance. You can implore, but at some point, she will say . . you’re not my mother . . . I know what I’m doing! Then she’s (he’s?) face first in the snow . . pissed at you for predicting the inevitable.
Behaviorists will implore you not to let the dog on the couch. Dentists will insist you don’t toss the frisbee … flying objects sailing 35 mph towards your dog’s mouth can create dental malocclusion, making it painful to chew. Orthopedists will simply shake their heads, and caution, after the fact, as they present you with a $3-4,000 surgical bill.
The cheapest, but most time-intensive approach to controlling your dog is tied to your success in training. Training your dog not to walk in front of you, pushing past you out-of-the-door, and heeding your words to stay, sit, down is paramount to reduce exercise-induced injuries.
Dogs that heel, don’t run, slip, slide and tear a knee ligament. This is really important during these cold weather months.
Places like PetSmart are good sources for training classes and information. Make the time to train your pet, it’s better for you and your wallet.