How to Train a Dog with an Injury
By Jason Wright
April 17, 2023
Most dogs are active and playful by nature, which can sometimes result in your pet suffering a twisted paw, a cut, or a hurt leg here or there. When an injury occurs, many dog owners wonder how active their pets can be and if they can still work with and train them.
By carefully monitoring your pet, you should be able to determine whether their injury is severe, requiring the attention of a veterinarian, or if their injury is on a smaller scale, where rest and a less active schedule will help them recover.
It may seem like all training and activity should stop while your pet is injured, but training can continue unless your dog's injury is severe. With simple adjustments to their routine, you can continue working with your pet, giving them a chance to be mentally and physically stimulated while allowing them to recover.
How To Tell If Your Dog is Severely Injured
As we mentioned, most dogs are active and always willing to play, run outside, or go for their scheduled walks. However, just like humans, your pet is not immune to a casual injury here or there. While rest will usually help your pet recover, it's essential to understand the symptoms that highlight if your dog's injury is a little more severe.
- Visible Injuries: Cuts, abrasions, and puncture wounds are easy to identify. If you notice any of these types of injuries on your dog, it is essential to seek veterinary care immediately, as they can be painful and can lead to infections if not treated promptly.
- Bleeding: This one may sound obvious, but it is important to note. If your dog is bleeding heavily, it is a sign of a severe injury, which must be treated immediately.
- Limping: This symptom can be challenging as your dog may limp due to a severe or casual injury. You'll want to pay close attention to your pet and monitor their behaviour. If they are limping for an extended period, whimpering, or struggling to walk, it's best to visit your vet.
- Difficulty Breathing: This symptom can be caused by a punctured lung, chest trauma, or an obstruction in the airway. If you notice your dog struggling to breathe, it's important to deal with this situation immediately and seek professional attention.
- Vomiting or Diarrhea: It is normal for a dog to experience vomiting or diarrhea at times, so this will be another symptom that you will have to monitor closely. However, if your dog continues vomiting and diarrhea for a few days, or so much so that it is causing discomfort, it is important to bring them to the vet.
- Unusual Behavior: Unusual behaviour can include lethargy, aggression, confusion, or anxiety. If you notice any unusual behaviour in your dog, it is essential to seek advice or care from a trained professional.
- Loss of Appetite: If your dog is not eating, it can be a sign of a severe injury, especially if they showcase other symptoms, such as unusual behaviour or diarrhea. If you notice this for an extended period or if your pet's behaviour is cause for concern, it's always best to consult a professional.
How to Train and Work With an Injured Pet
After you have assessed your pet's behaviour and have determined that your pet's injury is minor, you can begin training and working with them. However, it's important to note that your dog's training schedule should be modified to accommodate their injury.
Training a dog with an injury requires patience, commitment, and specialized techniques. Here are some of the changes you should make and items you should consider before working with your pet.
Understand Your Dog's Limitations
Before starting any training, it is crucial to understand your dog's limitations. You must be aware of your dog's pain threshold, range of motion, and mobility level. You should avoid any activity that may cause discomfort or pain to your dog.
During this time, you should focus on less intense exercises and commands, such as shorter walks, practicing leash training or doorway thresholds. You can gradually increase the intensity and duration of the training session as your dog's condition improves.
Train Your Dog on a Soft Surface
This is especially important if your dog has an injury to their paw or leg and is experiencing slight discomfort. Training your dog on a soft surface, such as a yoga mat or carpet, or outside on soft grass can help reduce the impact on the injured area.
Soft surfaces help to cushion the joints and reduce the risk of further injury. If needed, you can also use a pet ramp or stairs to help your dog navigate high surfaces without putting a strain on the injured area.
Avoid Any High-Impact or Excitement
The last thing you want to do is cause your pet further discomfort. Your training techniques may have to be adjusted to accommodate their injury. Avoid any training drills or commands requiring your pet to do high-intensity movement, such as running. Instead, try going for a walk and practicing leash training at a slower pace and for a shorter duration, and build up the intensity when your dog shows signs of improvement.
You'll also want to prevent your pet from getting overly excited, as this could result in behaviour that could cause them further pain or injury.
Be Patient and Consistent
Training a dog with an injury can be a long and challenging process. Being patient and consistent in your training efforts is essential, as your dog may take a little longer to learn a new command or perform a task due to their injury. Remember that these sessions, though scaled back to accommodate your pet, will help to mentally and physically stimulate your dog, keeping them active in a controlled way and happy and healthy. Once your pet is fully healed and back to normal, it can return to its regular training sessions without missing anything.
The iTK9 Way
If you need clarification about your dog's injury or how to train them, it's best to consult a trained professional. This will allow your pet to get the care and training they need without further injuring themself.
Whether your pet has a minor injury and you're trying to maintain its training schedule, or if you're looking to resume dog training after your pet has experienced a severe injury, our trainers can help. They fully commit to working with them through behaviour, obedience training, and continued learning safely and effectively.
We do the hard work for you to attain a happy home and a healthy relationship with your pet.
Included in all of our programs are the following;
- In-Person Learning: Midway progress training video, two go-home lessons.
- Online Learning: Owner education course, instructional training videos, iTK9 member community, e-books & additional training resources.
- Owner Support: Photo updates of your dog training with our team and access to our team for questions & support.