Activities For Dogs With Limited Mobility

1k Views
0 Comments
0 Votes

Introduction

Dogs need physical exercise and mental stimulation to remain healthy, this is true at all ages and across all breeds. Dogs who have limited mobility, be that due to congenital differences, physical injury, or age and disease, need and enjoy exercise and stimulation as much as their more able-bodied counterparts. While long jogs and unassisted games of fetch may not be in the cards for most of these dogs, their days of learning and exploring do not need to be over. While it is important for you to check with your veterinarian before adding any exercise to your mobility impaired dog’s routine, these activities should be both safe and fun for most canines and their owners.

Swimming

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15-45 minutes
Items needed
Body of Water
Canine Life Jacket
Fetch Toy
Activity description

Many canines who do not have the ability to walk or run on land are able to actively continue swimming due to the way that the water cradles and supports their body as they exercise.  In some cases, getting your older or infirm dog into a swimming pool or other safe body of water not only is a blast during playtime but may help to improve overall mobility both in and out of the water. While this is a particularly helpful activity for dogs with hip dysplasia and lower body paralysis, with just a little assistance it can also be beneficial for dogs with very little mobility at all.

Step
1
Find a place to swim
In many cases, an indoor swimming facility designed for dogs is the best place for your canine to start swimming, and will usually have the added benefit of a trainer to introduce your dog to the water for the first time. While there is typically a fee to use this sort of facility, the ten to twenty dollar cost per session allows you to be able to swim at any time of year in a more controlled environment. If you are choosing a locale out-of-doors, remember to choose a body of water that is slow moving but not stagnant, avoid areas where fishermen or boats may congregate, and thoroughly check the rules in the area as some areas may not be safe to swim in. Many states with a focus on outdoor recreation will have some lake and ocean areas that are designated as dog beaches.
Step
2
Introduce your dog to the water
If your dog is an unproven or weaker swimmer, a canine life-vest is an important safety tool, particularly in natural settings where unexpected currents may surprise you or your canine. If you are at an indoor facility, a member of the staff is likely to assist you with the introduction, but if you are in an outdoor setting you will the one be introducing your dog to the water. Some dogs will quickly and easily take to the water while others may be a little less sure about the idea at first. Typically, you will enter the water first and guide the dog in utilizing praise and persistence. Do not throw treats or toys in the water until your dog is feeling comfortable and confident in the water.
Step
3
Splash!
Once your pup is comfortable with the feel of the water and has learned how to navigate in it, it’s time to play! While many canine swimming pools have limits and restrictions on which humans are allowed to enter the pool, a responsible adult should always remain within easy reach of a limited mobility dog when swimming in nature. The activity of swimming is it’s own reward and many canines will happily swim along with no other goal in mind, while others prefer to play water fetch, in which you throw a floating toy into the water for them retrieve. Some dogs, particularly energetic dogs and breeds developed for their retrieving skills, often forget their limits in the water and may overextend themselves. Reddened eyes and increased panting may indicate that your dog is having a little too much fun, and should be encouraged to relax for a few minutes.
Love this activity?

Interactive Food Toys

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Moderate
Normal
5-30 minutes
Items needed
Treats or Food
Interactive toy (store-bought or homemade)
Activity description

Canines with limited mobility rarely have limited interest in food and this interest can be used to keep your dog occupied and mentally active. Although there are many commercially available toys and puzzles designed for dogs, you can also entertain your pooch with do-it-yourself puzzle toys made out of everyday objects. Some puzzle toys are appropriate for play involving you and your dog, while others are better suited to solo playtime. Many of the interactive food puzzles for dogs also include an element of chewing, an activity that satisfies a natural instinct in dogs and helps to keep their teeth clean and healthy. 

Step
1
Choose a toy
There are a number of different types of puzzle toys that utilize food and treat rewards to stimulate and motivate your canine. Some toys release the food when your dog shakes the toy or rolls it around on the ground while others are designed to encourage the action of chewing. Some tricky toys are even designed so that your clever pup has to lift covers or slide obstacles out of their way with their nose or paw to find their reward. Engaging interactive food toys can also be made at home using anything from empty water bottles and milk jugs to tennis balls and muffin tins.
Step
2
Choose a temptation
While your canine’s favorite dog treat is an obvious choice as a reward, it may not always be the most appropriate option in all situations. Dog treats are often higher in calories, fat, and in some cases, sugar than normal dog food. While treats make a healthy addition to the diet, if given in excess they may increase the possibility of your canine developing obesity or blood sugar disorders. Many dogs are perfectly happy with a reward of their regular kibble and some pet parents use some treat toys as a replacement for a traditional bowl, both to entertain and enrich the animal and to prevent the dog from bolting their food. Some picky dogs may even prefer to eat this way. Some toys, such as the Kong, even have treats that are specifically developed to work with the toy they sell, particularly toys created to satisfy a chewing need.
Step
3
Interact and inspect
How much interaction is required for these toys depends on which toys you choose and the temperament of your best buddy. Some puzzle toys, particularly those that involve the manipulation of moving parts, may be more enjoyable and less frustrating with a little guidance from their favorite human, while toys designed for chewing may be more appropriate for solo play. Always check toys for wear and tear before giving them to your dog and inspect them again before putting them away.
Love this activity?

Targeted Training Exercises

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5-30 minutes
Items needed
Treats
You
Exercise ball (optional)
Activity description

Targeted training exercises can help your dog to build up their muscles in ways that can improve their circulation as well as help to strengthen muscles and stabilize the dog’s core. This can significantly improve the quality of life for a dog with limited mobility and in some cases, may even lengthen it by improving their heart health. That is a big benefit for your best buddy! While these activities were designed to improve the physical health of your canine companion, they can also have the added benefit of being a fun and relaxing activity that can help deepen your bond with your pet. You may apply any or all of the following steps, depending on your comfort level and the comfort level of your pet. 

Step
1
Passive range of motion
Passive range of motion exercises are often performed with the animal standing, but if the canine is unable to stand during the manipulations, they can also be done with the dog lying on their side. Some of the most commonly stretched areas include the hips, the shoulders, the back, and the chest. Before starting passive range of motion exercises on a limited mobility dog, check with your veterinarian or small animal chiropractor to prevent accidental injury and to determine which exercises will be of the most benefit to your specific dog.
Step
2
Strength training
Simple strength exercises, particularly those designed to improve the back and core, are extremely beneficial for dogs that use wheelchairs or slings in order to help maintain balance and they can be a fun, physical way to interact with your dog. One example of low impact strength training for canines with reduced mobility is to encourage your pooch to try to reach a treat that you are offering without taking any steps or scooting; this exercise is most effective when the cookie is offered from multiple angles. In many cases, the core can also be strengthened by gently using your pup’s legs to roll them from side to side or by utilizing an exercise ball to help them maintain balance. Like passive range of motion exercises, a veterinary professional should be consulted before starting any strength training to ensure it is right for your particular pooch.
Step
3
Light massage
Light massage, while not as active a form of exercise, is especially helpful for dogs with mobility challenges. With your dog lying prone you will massage each major muscle group on your dog starting from the neck and shoulders and finishing with the hind legs, gently rubbing rather than kneading deeply. This type of light massage is not only comforting for your dog, it increases circulation, improves tissue and organ function, and augments muscle function, as well as eases stress for both you and your canine companion.
Love this activity?

More Fun Ideas...

Cavaletti Exercises

Cavaletti exercises were originally developed for training horses and involve stepping over several horizontal poles that are placed in close succession. This exercise is most effective for those whose mobility is just mildly limited and it may help to forestall further degeneration.

Walking

While diseases like hip dysplasia, spondylosis, and degenerative myelopathy may have resulted in confinement to the home or even to euthanasia in the past, today we have several options available to help limited mobility dogs get around, including prosthetic limbs, slings, and canine wheelchairs so our pets can live longer more carefree lives than was previously possible. It is generally advised to stick to smooth, easy paths and sidewalks that are wide enough to accommodate any gear that your dog requires.

Conclusion

Dogs that have physical limits imposed upon their mobility do not see themselves as disabled and given the proper support your dog can rise above the limits posed by their mobility and continue to live an active and interesting life. So get your dog, get your gear, and get moving!