After visiting a really talented and knowledgeable dog doctor, my older BC with his mysterious ailment has finally got some constructive direction. Zeal’s been injured for years, 🙁 which is quite depressing for both of us. This doctor, who does a variety of treatments for dogs, got my brain processing, kick starting my intuitive and learned wisdom, much of it taken from a background in Chi Gung and athletic understanding. She provided just the right answers to holes in how I looked at the problem, directing me on how to practice some treatments and what sorts of supplements/medicine to begin with. Now, I’m not a fan of symptom treatment, it’s more important to uncover the root cause, so pain medication was only something I’d recently considered after years of failed rest and gentle exercise doing the job. And pain meds might eliminate pain that is there to tell a body to protect itself and not use an injured part. But, supplements that can help the healing process, well that’s right up my alley, but I want them to be effective!
She examined the movement and worked on both of my dogs and recommended, among other things, that I roll both dogs’ skin…a technique I’m really familiar with, but hardly ever do to the dogs. It’s such an easy and informative way to get a dog to let go of tension while getting a good idea about how their body is doing. We talked about some other pieces, too. But what really stuck out after an appointment with both of my dogs is that my lifestyle needs to change dramatically.
This is something that I realized while talking to myself and putting all the pieces together: from my background working with horses (including rehab), from what I know about how bodies work (including having studied Chigung Tuina), from what she emphasized as being important, and realizing how inactively this woman rewards her dog compared to how I play with a dog in training.
My dogs, Irie in particular, have little to no sense of self-preservation. It’s common for dogs “in drive” to be careless with their bodies, and some dogs are more apt to be in this state than others. So the flip side of having a dog with a lot of “want to”, is you need to adopt a lot of “you can, but only to a certain degree and do it like this”. Letting them “spaz” is bad!
But I like to let dogs enjoy freedom. I like to play and have them fly after a toy. I’m a bit of what you call, “A free bird” sort, so reining these dogs in is going to require a lot of changes. I’m pretty sure you’re guilty of some of the same things. How do you warm up your dog before letting her run/chase? What’s your cool down routine? Are you watching out for the running surface? How does your dog play? Does she tackle the toy by driving her front end into the ground really hard? Irie does. And I love the attitude. Her enthusiasm can make you laugh. The problem is she’s severely on her forehand. Quadrupeds, (I’m going to make a guess here from what I know about dogs and horses) are notoriously heavy on the front without training.
So, what is the correct answer? Never let her tackle another toy? Only deliver the toy in the perfect way…held precisely in the air. Any serious trainer knows that the placement of a reward is hugely important, and my presentations are calculated when I hand the toy over (or rather let her punch it out of my hands). This is where talking to the doctor got me to start thinking.
Well, aside from the obvious that any athlete could tell you: warm up gently, beware of the make up of the surface (don’t run or jump on hard or slick surfaces (the ground outside can get very hard, and carpet can be very slippery)), have a cool down routine, learn how to stretch your dog. Beyond that, with dogs you need to consider their style of play and movement. Is it possible to temper the quick changes of speed and direction? You may have to be clever about what sort of toys and playmates you choose for your best friend. These are both really important topics so they’ll get their own blog entries.