DIY Physical therapy exercises for dogs who can stand
Physical Therapy (PT) for dogs is a proven, time-tested method to relieve pain and regain mobility, strength, and balance. Complex PT exercises need a dedicated rehabilitation area with ample space and equipment. But there are a few easy-to-do, safe exercises that can
be done at home. These exercises are also fun, and your dog would probably enjoy doing them. So without further adieu, let’s look at these fun physical therapy exercises.
Err…one thing! Make sure you consult your veterinarian and physical therapist before undertaking any of these exercises.
Who doesn’t love a massage? Especially if it gives relief from pain. And trust us, dogs are no different. They love messages. And massaging can have a healing effect too. When the injury affected body parts are massaged in the right way, it can significantly relieve pain but also reduces swelling. Messaging is a great way to stimulate muscles and increase blood circulation. Furthermore, it eases the anxiety and stress from the mental toll of an injury or disease such as ACL in dogs. But make sure that the massage is gentle, as excess pressure can aggravate the pain.
2. Hind Leg Stands
Hind legs stands are a go-to exercise in dog physical therapy. Using this technique will strengthen your dog’s hind legs. In this exercise, you will need to make your dog stand upright by holding its front legs. Observe how long they can maintain this position without being hurt. As they get better at it, increase the time. With consistency, this exercise will greatly benefit your dog’s recovery. Not only will it make the hind legs stronger but improve their core strength too. Another way to make this more rewarding for your dog is to use the Lure-Reward Training method. Hold their favorite snack up above them so that they reach for the cookie, engaging their hind legs.
3. Sit-to-Stand exercise
For this, using the lure trick can come in handy. Make your dog sit in front of you. Then use a treat to lure your dog into walking towards you. Then make them sit again and repeat. Sit-to-Stand exercises are a great way to work the quads and hamstrings of the hind legs.
4. Assisted Leash Walks
This is one of the most important exercises to speed up your dog’s recovery process. Lack of movement can cause muscle wasting, also called muscle atrophy. Using slow controlled leash walking can help avoid this. Plus, slow and steady walks will make your dog bear more weight on the hind legs. But make sure you use a chest harness or leash that does not stretch so that you can control your dog’s pace and movement.
5. Heads Up
This one’s another treat-trick. The goal of this exercise is to achieve improved head and neck mobility. This exercise requires you to hold a treat up over your dog’s head. It will make them lift their head, eyeing the treat. Hold the position for a while, about 10 seconds. Now change the treat’s position to below the head. Do this 10 to 15 times in each direction, including left and right. But make sure you treat them to make this fun and rewarding.
6. Stair Climbs
Stairs are a handy prop in every home that can help your dogs recover faster from injuries, regain strength, stamina, and confidence. Making your canine walk up and down the staircase in a controlled, slow-paced manner, will help them get their muscle strength back. But make sure they do not hop on the stairs but take one stair at a time, slowly and steadily. Start with a few steps up and back, and as they get stronger and more confident, you can scale the whole staircase a few times. And another thing to keep a check on is their form or posture when they are climbing the stairs.
Apart from exercise, diet plays a vital role in speeding up recovery. Losing weight is essential to take pressure off the joints. With proper care, well-planned exercise, and a good diet, you will start seeing the results eventually.
Remember, not all dogs respond equally to these exercises. But do not let that deter you. There are many more exercises that may be more beneficial for your dog’s recovery. Consulting an expert physical therapist for dogs is essential to see substantial improvement in a short period.