If you’re recovering from a hand injury, perhaps you’re doing some DIY and you miss the nail and hit your engagement finger instead – the last thing you’ll want to do is place a ring on that finger – cartier or no cartier! Dogs will be the same as this area will be sensitive and painful, so being mindful of harnesses and collars that rub and chafe and avoiding them is a great way of supporting your dog.
A harness with a clip on the front and the back will help you maintain more control over your dog’s movement avoiding rambunctious meetings with dog friends they meet out and about.
Getting a name tag that you can attach to your dog’s harness if they are having a neck operation is a good way of avoiding pain on your dogs neck.
Preparing your home
I once skid on a leek on my way to work on St Albans market day! It was embarrassing (I turned a distinct shade of tomato red) but luckily, I did not hurt myself! Having non- slip mats around the home especially towards the front door and back garden where your dog is likely to walk, will help keep their joints safe and prevent injuries from being exacerbated. For more advice check out CAM and you can listen to our podcast with Hannah here.
Does your dog like curling up on the sofa with you and having a cuddle? While you could look at ramps so they can climb up still having cuddles on the floor with them is also a great way of keeping them emotionally supported. If you are considering a ramp, ensuring that it is moved and taken down when you’re not with them to prevent any accidents is important. Helping them up and down the ramp with using your body as a guide is very sensible.
Is your dog’s arch nemesis Postman Pat? Or do they enthusiastically greet everyone who knocks at your dog? Having a post-box outside the home to leave letters and parcels is a good plan that avoids the doorbell ringing. You could ask your friends to call ahead just for the time being to avoid the doorbell being rung.
Preparing your dog before they have an operation is a great way of setting them up for success – rewarding your dog (by giving them a food treat) for being calm and settling on a mat will help teach them that good things happen when they are calm. Also, desensitising your dog to the bell (so playing it even when no one is at the door) will help them to stop reacting to it.
Mentally enriching activities for your dog
A trip in the car
A car ride watching the world go by will be mentally stimulating for your dog. If you place the window down they get the added benefit of new smells. There are lots of delightful places to drive to in Hertfordshire including Ayot St Lawrence and Flamstead. I know a trip to the seaside and the fresh sea air always tires me out!
If your dog is not comfortable with being carried or it is not safe for them to be then training your dog to walk up and down a ramp will help make car trips easier.
Hiding treats in the long grass and allowing your dog to sniff them out will be lots of fun for your dog. They have 330 million scent receptors in their nose so sniffing is great fun!
Placing treats under cones, plastic plant pots, cardboard boxes layered with paper will also get your dogs brain in action!
Food toys such as kongs, snuffle mats and puzzle feeders will help your dog to bust mental energy. If you’re using kongs then ensure when the food is in there that you place a straw through the top and bottom – this acts as an airway incase your dogs tongue ever got stuck – thank you Louise from Dog First Aid for teaching us this!
You can use your dogs daily rations of food for these toys. Using them will utilise their problem solving skills more than a bowl ever would!
Mental activities to teach your dogs
Teaching your dog to know the names of toys
It can be a fun trick and bust boredom.
What do I need?
· Some toys – 3 different ones. But you will only use one to start with.
· Some treats – very tasty treats such as chicken.
How do I do it?
1. Introduce the toy to your dog and make it fun – play with them with it and build up a positive association with it.
2. Present the toy to your dog (allow them to look at it) and then give them a treat – this way they are building up a good association with it.
3. Repeat step 2 20 times.
4. Then say the name of the object ie “duck” then give them a treat.
5. Repeat step 4 20 times.
Marking and moving
Now you want your dog to pay interest to the toy that is on the ground.
1. Put the toy down a little distance.
2. Say the toys name i.e “duck”
3. Then if your dog goes over to it say your marker word/use your clicker then give them a treat. If they don’t go over then reduce the distance.
Repeat steps 1-3, 20 times.
Adding in other toys
Have your other toy to hand.
Hold both toys up.
Say “get duck”
If your dog looks at it then say “yes” and give them a treat.
Repeat 10 times.
Then swap the toy location – swap the one that was in your left hand to your right hand.
Say “get duck”
Wait for your dog to choose the right toy then say “yes” and give them a treat.
Making it harder
Switch the toys back again to the original hand locations as before.
Add in 3 toys
1. Place 2 toys down then place the original toy (the one you have been practicing with) down last.
2. Then say get “duck”
3. Then if the dog goes for it then mark and reward.
4. Then pick it up and repeat steps 1-3 (but keep the other toys down)
You can gradually make it harder for your dog by mixing up the location of the toys.
I hope your dog feels better very soon. I hope this blog helps aid their physical recovery and mental wellbeing.