Part Two: What to do when your dog's suffering with joint pain?

Hi! Here is Part Two in the series of how I help my own dog Poppy who suffers with joint pain and arthritis. In Part One I discussed how I had started developing a sensory garden for Poppy and how we use road walks as part of her exercise regime to contribute to keeping her stimulated both physically and mentally when she can't manage longer walks. I promised that I would return to explore what signs show me Poppy is in a pain flare, other ways I keep Poppy happy and stave off boredom and what adaptations I've made at home to assist her.

Poppy's sensory garden is coming along nicely, although is not yet finished. Poppy is absolutely delighted however with the fact that the local cats adore crapping in the bark chippings I've laid. Totally adds to the sensory experience she reckons!

So I've spoken about road walks and the sensory garden as two low impact ways to entertain the pooch but what else do we do? Poppy loves people, and she adores going visiting! She often comes along with me to visit friends and family and she is super excited to do so. It means she is not home alone for extended periods which is important but more than that it gives her a different environment to sniff and explore and she really enjoys the attention and fusses she gets. It softens the blow that she can't often join us for family days out on long walks that she can still spend ample time with us and our loved ones, she is a very important member of our family!

Poppy's often struggled with joining us in pubs or cafes if there are other dogs there. Largely due to her pain she became reactive to other dogs particularly when she is on lead and will bark up a storm! She can settle perfectly well in these environments so long as she can't see another dog so our choice of seating is key to our success here!

Here she is joining me for a successful evening out at the pub where she cosied by the fire on the sofa... with not another hound in eyeline. Bliss!

Poppy is a very food motivated pup, in fact this is likely one of the contributing factors to her damaging her cruciate in the first place. I was unaware for quite some time but a year or so ago I caught her in action... sauntering about atop the dining room table snuffling crumbs and leftovers! She used the chair to get up there but leapt down from a great height onto the hard dining room floor. I doubt this was a one off!

As well as being food motivated, I think she is also quite a clever pooch and she really enjoys enrichment toys. She has an array of intereractive feeding toys which she really loves, her Nina Ottosson Tornado and Maze are probably her favourites but she also enjoys her Kong Quest stuffable toys which I can fill and freeze to keep her entertained for longer.

Because of Poppy's joint pain and arthritis it is important for me to keep her weight down to prevent extra pressure and strain on her. Lucky for me Poppy LOVES a tug toy! We use it to help her get her excess energy out when she has a good game with me but we also use it as a reward for training and for hide and seek! Hide and Seek is a great game for us to play as it really helps Poppy with her impulse control, she has to sit and wait to be released before she can eventually go and find it... and then she's rewarded with a short game of tug before we do it all again! Short training sessions and games are a great way to mentally both tire and satisfy all dogs but they are particularly useful for dogs who are on restricted exercise.

Poppy and I have attended training classes before not because I particularly want her to be able to know a ton of cues but more so that we could have that bonding time and have ideas of things to do for training sessions. For me it's much less about her being able to perform a list of behaviours and much more about the enjoyment we get from learning and doing together.

I had rather more to say on this subject than I anticipated so I'll save signs that Poppy is in a pain flare and adaptations we've made at home for Part Three... I'd also like to talk about getting the balance between restriictions to limit pain and having fun and adventures together. This could probably run on and on but for now I'm signing off!

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