Saturday was the perfect running day. At ten years old, my german shorthair pointer still outruns me--especially on canyon runs. We mix up her workouts a lot--some walks, some hikes, some runs. But her canyon runs are her favorite and very early on Saturday mornings she's up and in my face ready to go. She spares no expense at her impatience for me as I get ready and as I stretch she stretches a little and then paws at me the remainder of the time I stretch willing me to hurry up and get out that door.
The run was perfect on Saturday. Perfect weather with perfect conditions. We took our same route we've been taking together for over seven years. By all accounts this dog can outrun me most days. Today was no exception. She had more energy and kept trying to pull ahead of me the whole way up and down the canyon.
We jogged off the side of the road to the water fountain less than a mile from the end of our run, took a quick sip and then looked both ways for bikers and other joggers before heading back onto the trail and over to side of the trail meant for joggers. As we crossed she winced loudly and started limping. Thinking it was something simple like a rock or thorn stuck in her pad I stopped her and started to palpate her pads and didn't feel anything. My next immediate was she had probably just stepped on a rock. I put her leg down and tried to walk her a little and she winced again, this time visibly limping. Oh no! I thought. Definetely something more serious than the usual.
That first day of injury she was more than fine to lay around the house. She would visibly shake and grimmace from the pain when she would stand up and her leg would go a little wobbly. I called the vet and walked through what happened and over the phone the vet gave me some instructions to hold her over until a visit on Monday.
The last words she said? "Good luck, I had a german shorthair pointer growing up and they are the WORST when they are injured. They always think they can do more than they can when they are injured."
The LAST time she got injured several years ago, she was playing in the creek and slipped on a rock and broke one of her toes. After about two weeks of being cooped up she saw me trying to sneak out of the house and into the car. She was MAD that she wasn't invited on the car ride, so she CLIMBED A SIX FOOT FENCE AND JUMPED IN THE CAR!
Keeping your dog entertained when the are sick or injured is no small feat when they are active breeds like ours.
Here are some tips for keeping them active and entertained while they are injured or recovering. **Please note you will want to check with your vet FIRST before doing any of these activities. Different injuries may allow or prevent your dog from engaging in some of the activities listed below**
Tips for Keeping Your Dog Entertained While Injured or Recovering
- Chewing: Chewing is a great activity to keep dogs busy and active. Grab a bone and let your dog happily chew away. For a longer lasting, safer alternative try an antler or bully stick. There are also a variety of different chew toys on the market to help keep your dog busy while they recover.
Puzzle Toys: A favorite of our dog, puzzle toys keep their minds active and entertained and help stave off boredom moments. We've bought some fun puzzle toys for our dog (she mostly likes the treat ones!) however you don't have to break the bank buying expensive dog toys! We liked this article from K9 Of Mine who shared that with some potatoes, a water bottle and a tennis ball you can make some fun at home puzzle toys! Paws So Cute shows us how PVC, toilet paper rolls, and an empty peanut butter jar can make your dogs puzzle time more interesting. And Rover Time gives some ideas on how some empty boxes and a towel can keep your dog busy for awhile.
Snuffle Mats: These mats are amazing!! Our dog loves her mat. These mats are designed to allow dogs to smell, sniff and find hidden treats or objects. And i love them because it tires them out!! It allows them to use their foraging skills and engages their minds. There are so many different kinds of mats on the market. The Honest Kitchen also has a nice and easy tutorial for making your own DIY Snuffle Mat.
Hand Targeting: Hand targeting teaches dogs that a hand is not a threat. It teaches them that the outstretched hand is a good, not negative thing. Head to YouTube and look for some videos on teaching hand targeting to your dog.
TV: We do this to our dog and it can be really funny to watch her. She loves watching videos of pheasants and quails. When she feels good and isn't hurt we usually play a pheasant video from our phone and hide her favorite pheasant toy by the phone. It's a winter game of hide and seek. Our dog will sit in front of the TV and watch a pheasant video for about 2-3 minutes until she looses interest. But sometimes, that's long enough to distract her while getting her most unfavorite thing ready---medicine!
Dog Massage: If approved from your vet, a nice dog massage can be very nice and relaxing for your dog, especially if they are very active! Check out YouTube for some great videos!
Teach Names: Teach your dog the names of thier toys and have them pick up the toy that you want them to get. It is a great way to exercise their brain while their body heals.
Wagon or Stroller Walk Your Dog: If your dog is missing their walks, consider wagon or stroller walking your dog. Being able to get out into nature might be the ticket to helping your dog feel a little better. I was up the canyon running the other day and saw a shelty dog in a bike trailer. I chatted with them for a few minutes and they mentioned their dog had loved the canyon runs but was getting older. So they bike with their dog now and let him out to explore when they make stops.
Free Shaping: Free shaping is a great way to teach your dog to get your dog to burn some mental energy when they are not allowed to burn up their physical energy until the vet gives the okay. Free shaping teaches a dog to use their mind to do what you would like them to do. Teach them to roll an object with their nose, focus on a task, or make decisions.
We hope this helps you keep you and your dog sane during their recovery! Leave a comment with your dog, what happened and what has helped your dog during their recovery!