Activities For Dogs After Owner's ACL Surgery

1k Views
0 Comments
0 Votes

Introduction

Tears to the ligament in the knee, known as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL, quite often end up requiring surgery in order to restore functionality and strength to the joint. The recovery from ACL surgery is typically fairly lengthy and usually takes between six and nine months and you should be particularly protective of your joint during this healing period, which means that although you may be able to take walks, jogging and biking would be too hard on the new ligament and should be avoided. These are some great activities to help keep your canine occupied while you are busy healing.

Toy Pick Up

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Clicker
Toys
Toybox
Activity description

If your dog is like many other dogs in this country they have a plethora of chew toys, rope toys, and fetch toys, all of which they leave lying on the floor, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It is actually relatively easy to teach your dog to pick up their toys off of the floor and put them in a designated toybox. This is an activity you can do with your dog even in the earliest weeks of healing from knee surgery and helps you to avoid having to bend down as much, which risks re-injury of the healing ligament. 

Step
1
What's a clicker?
A clicker is a small device that you hold in your hand designed simply to make a clear clicking noise when you press in the right spot, and the point is to mark when your dog has performed a task or command correctly. In order for the clicker to be effective your dog has to associate that particular sound with a high-value reward, usually a favorite low-calorie dog treat, and that is where you come in. If you give your dog a treat every time that they hear that clicking noise it won’t be long until they associate that noise with good things.
Step
2
Picking up
This particular activity starts with you simply tossing one of your dog’s toys for them to fetch. When your pet picks up the toy off of the floor use the clicker to mark the desired behavior and give your dog a treat. Once your dog is reliably performing this “Fetch” behavior, you can introduce the dog’s toy box. Position yourself on the opposite side of the toy box from your dog so that they have to stretch their head out over the toy box. As they stretch their head over the box, give the specific command that you have designated (for example: toy box, clean up, or pick up) and click the clicker. In most cases, the dog will let go of the toy, allowing it to fall into the toy box, at which point another reward should be given to your pup.
Step
3
Moving away
Once your dog has a clear understanding that picking up their toys when given the command will result in a high-value treat or another reward, you can start giving the command from a greater distance, only giving them a reward when the toy goes in the box. This will help your dog to understand that the command is not just for dropping the toy, but specifically for dropping the toy into to the toy box.
Love this activity?

Intensify Their Walk

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Canine Backpack or Weighted Vest
Reward Item
Obstacles for Jumping Over
Activity description

If you have just had surgery to repair a torn ligament in the knee, your recovery time usually lasts for six to nine months and and you should generally slow down a bit and walk in deliberate and careful manner while your joint is healing, particularly during the earlier stages of recovery, in order to avoid twisting the knee. The slower pacing required for you may prove to be a less intense workout for your dog, resulting in less energy expenditure, but there are several ways that you can increase the challenge for your dog when taking a walk, without having to increase your own pace or strain your knee. 

Step
1
Added weight
One of the ways that you can increase the intensity of a workout is by adding weight to the workout. For humans who are trying to intensify their exercise routine, they may try weighted wristbands or simply carrying handheld weights with them, and dogs can generally be fitted with a special backpack designed for canines or a special weighted harness.
Step
2
Pup push-ups
Another way to increase the intensity of your canine companion’s daily fitness routine is to incorporate additional exercises into their walk, stopping every so often to have your dog lay down then sit up for five to fifteen repetitions. If your pup isn’t overly large or prone to hip dysplasia, you can even have them stand on their hind legs after sitting, intensifying the exercise further. Remember to follow up each set with lots of praise and rewards.
Step
3
Jumping for joy
You can also increase the intensity of your typical walk by encouraging your dog to jump onto or over certain types of obstacles that can be found in their environment. These can either be man-made obstacles, such as park benches or playground equipment, or they can be obstacles that are typically found in nature, such as fallen logs, large rocks, or even small streams.
Love this activity?

Interactive Food Toy

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Moderate
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Interactive food toy
dog food or treats
Activity description

Interactive food toys are another excellent way to keep your pup occupied and out of your way while you do chores, put your leg up, or work on therapeutic exercises to strengthen your knee. While store-bought food toys specifically designed for your pup can be found in nearly every pet store, do-it-yourself toys made out of everyday objects around the house are often just as entertaining for your canine companion. There are several different types of food toys available for your dog, including toys designed for interactive play with you, toys designed for supervised solo play, and toys designed to help satisfy a dog's natural inclination to chew. 

Step
1
Pick a toy
There are several variations of toys that can keep your pooch mentally stimulated and provide them with a rich source of entertainment. Many manufactured food puzzle toys are designed specifically to satisfy a dog’s need to chew, an activity that helps keep their teeth strong and healthy, while others are designed to release the reward when the toy is rolled on the ground or when it is shaken, and some of the more intellectually challenging ones require your dog to lift small doors and nose obstacles out of the way to get to the hidden treat. There are also just as many variations on toys that you can make from home, including toys made out of tennis balls and muffin tins, toys using paper cups or bowls to hid the treats, and even toys made from old water bottles and milk jugs.
Step
2
Pick the reward
While many pet parents will automatically reach for their pet’s favorite small treat to fill their canine’s interactive food toy, their treats may not always the best choice for a reward. Compared to most dog food, treats for dogs typically contain a higher concentration of fats, sugars, and calories and eating them to excess can lead to health problems for your dog such as blood sugar imbalances, pancreatitis, and obesity. Fortunately, the majority of dogs are just as happy to have their normal kibble in their toys and will work for it just as eagerly.
Step
3
Interaction and inspection
In some cases, this type of toy requires very little interaction on your part to keep your dog happily busy for quite some time, particularly with toys that are designed with chewing in mind, however other types of toys, such as rolling toys and more challenging mental puzzles, are better enjoyed together. It is essential to check any toys that your dog has played with as you put them away, to ensure that there are no damages or defects, and check again before giving the toy to your pooch. Toys that have sustained a great deal of damage can turn into a choking hazard very quickly.
Love this activity?

More Fun Ideas...

Doggy Daycare

If you have a high-energy but sociable dog, a trip to a nearby doggy daycare may help them to safely expend all of their energy, without causing any strain to your healing joints.  

Fetch

 While the game of fetch is an extremely energetic activity on the part of your dog, it is a relatively easy activity on the tendons in your knee as long as you are in the later recovery stages of the healing process. While larger dogs will require more room to indulge and will often need to take this game out of doors, very small dogs can often get just as much of a workout chasing their target through the halls of your home, just keep the target on the ground to help avoid broken objects.

Conclusion

While it is important not to overly stress your knee while the cruciate ligament is healing up after surgery, your canine companion is still in need of just as much exercise as they were before the injury and surgery took place. While running, jumping, and other high impact exercises should be avoided on your part, there are many ways to keep your dog both physically and mentally fit that do not risk damage to this crucial component of your knee joint.