Monday, 5 September 2011

Walking a dog with back pain

If you have back pain and you have a dog you may need to tackle this issue. Dogs need a walk everyday and unless you can get someone else to walk your dog you need to consider what you will do. I was in this position and learned a few things through trial and error.

First thing is to check with your healthcare provider if it is OK for you to try walking your dog with your condition. The most important thing for you is to be safe and not to damage your back.

 If they say no then you must find someone else to walk your dog. This may be a family member,a friend, a neighbour, someone you trust, or you could think about hiring a licensed dog walker. It is important your dog is walked every day and it is important you are safe and look after your back.. This may be the most viable option for you if you re in a lot of pain or cannot walk very far or feel unsteady. I was in this position for a while until my back pain started to improve. 

If you get the Ok from your physician here are a few tips.

1. If your dog walks well on a lead , nicely beside you, and not pulling, you have a head start and well done you for training him or her well.  It may be useful  for you to carry a long cane with you to give you some support if the ground is rough or you need to steady  yourself. Walk your well trained dog on a loose lead but not a very long line/flexi lead. Even the best behaved dogs may run after a rabbit and on a very long line you will be talking a lot of strain.

2. If your dog pulls on a lead it may be worthwhile investing in some training for you and your dog or as a short term measure it may be worth a trip to the pet shop and ask them if there is any other type of lead suited to your dog that will reduce them pulling and the strain in your back. You will be looking for gentle halti , gentle leader, canny collar type  leads, not choke chains or other s that can hurt your dog. 

3. If you have plenty of safe open space and your dog has great recall and wears an identity tag/is microchipped, you can try letting him off lead and having his exercise that way. You can also if he is trained to do so, walk him beside you off lead. You can if you are able throw balls for him or play a game where if you have a walking companion you can call him to you " Ben come here!"and he runs between you both- he must have fuss or a treat when he reaches you though.

 Never walk your dog off lead where there is traffic or children playing. Safety first at all times for you, other people  and your dog.

4. Take your dog to training classes to teach him to walk nicely on lead. This is the longer term and most valuable option. It is not difficult to learn the techniques and just explain to your trainer that you have back issues and they should adapt the training to you both. You will need to practice but in the mid to long term it will be better for you and your dog if he walks well on the lead.

5. If you are out and about with your dog do tell someone where you are going and what time to expect you to return. Also carry with you something indicating who you are and what medical condition you have and that you have a dog. It is worth a lot if you are suddenly taken ill and need help. Especially if you have a medical condition it is worth having a Medic ID Alert bracelet so that if you are taken ill while out walking your medical condition can easily be known.

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