How to play with my dog without her being 'active'?
October 22, 2007 4:32 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep my dog active and busy, without her actually being physically active?

My 1yr old, 80lb monster somehow managed to hurt her front shoulder. I think she might have been trying to hard to get to a tennis ball that was between the fridge and the wall and strained it.

I generally have to take her for at least a 1 mile walk/run daily, as well as plenty of frisbee/tennis ball chasing - otherwise she digs up the yard, tears things up, etc.

I noticed the limp last Monday and started to play a bit easier on her. Not so much running, and shorter walks. I took her into the vet on Friday and he said she should be as inactive as possible for 1 week and gave me some anti-inflammatory meds to give her daily.

All weekend she was miserable. You could tell how badly she just wants to run and play. I try and ignore it - even talking to her and patting her on her bad shoulder while telling her we can't play cause she's hurt, hoping she'll understand.

If she hasn't started tearing up the yard today, I'm sure it's only a matter of time. I think she'll go crazy if she doesn't expel that energy till Friday.

Does anyone have any tips on how to keep her active and busy without putting a strain on that front shoulder?

thanks all
posted by TheDude to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about a Kong? And stuff it with a treat.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:49 PM on October 22, 2007

chew toys and bones can be a great help in tiring at a bone. you can give her bones that will really consume all her energy for hours.
posted by alkupe at 4:50 PM on October 22, 2007

Toys that deliver treats at random keep them super occupied for a while-- there are examples at the top of this page.
posted by barnone at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2007

You may want to aks the vet for some sedatives for the dog, which would make her dopey and not so crazy to go tearing up the yard or doing stuff that will hinder the repair process.

I know it's heartbreaking to see your dog frustrated like that, but in the long run, IMHO, she'll be much better off with a weeks rest under her belt. I'm actually surpised the vet didn't suggest this.
posted by ReiToei at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2007

Others here. Why not try new tricks that don't require her to be too mobile? Learning how to lay down, stay for a long time, walk backwards? Start clicker training if you don't already?
posted by barnone at 5:00 PM on October 22, 2007

My mom would get hollow dog bones or Kong toys and fill them with peanut butter or Braunschweiger (liver sausage). It was more effective than putting treats in them because the dog really had to work to get it out.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:32 PM on October 22, 2007

Second the peanut butter trick. Takes a while to get it out and dogs do seem to love it.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:40 PM on October 22, 2007

Stuff a Kong or Buster Cube with her regular food (which you should be cutting back a fair bit to account for her reduced exercise), make each meal a challenge (filling the Kong with kibble and then broth and then freezing it can work really well), and feed small, frequent meals rather than one or two bigger meals. Add green beans or pumpkin (canned pumpkin not pie filling) to help keep her regular and help her feel more full.

Clicker training sedentary-type exercises with part of her daily meal can help keep her brain exercised (play dead, targeting with her nose, lay head flat on the floor, push things with her nose, etc., find a good clicker trick book) and give her some neat tricks to do.
posted by biscotti at 5:50 PM on October 22, 2007

My dog is OBSESSED with peanut butter now thanks to the Kong. She used to have separation anxiety, now she just wants me to leave more often so she'll get more peanut butter.

Seconding the frozen broth too. Works great.

My favorite dog toy in the world otherwise is the Hide A Squirrel. Besides being adorable, my dog loves it desperately and can play with it for hours by herself. There are three squirrels that can all be hidden inside of a soft tree trunk. She loves finding them over and over again and never tires of playing with them.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:25 PM on October 22, 2007

A few 5 or 10 minute "full body" massages a day will relax your dog a lot, and make her feel physically better, in ways that exercise otherwise would. This is more than just petting, it is knowing, careful, slow working of major muscles, bending of joints through normal action ranges, maybe some paw rubbing, combined with relaxed talking and gentle praise. Be careful not to aggravate her sore muscles, or apply too much pressure to bony spots over the spine, hips and ribs. But otherwise, as long as you're slow and careful, and work with sensitivity to her reactions and anatomy, it's hard to go wrong.
posted by paulsc at 7:01 PM on October 22, 2007

Ever play hide the ball? That's our fallback indoor activity when our lab is bored and we're not going for a walk. Mentally stimulating but not particularly physical.
posted by timeistight at 7:03 PM on October 22, 2007

Recovery games for a dog with TPLO

But really any training in general tires out the mind and body. Teaching a dog to calm himself is one of the most important things he can learn so practice his stays and waits and door manners and teach him how to settle down. When you're petting him, use slow, long, firm pets, almost like a massage and talk quietly and soothingly. Try to relax him and get him to maintain a relaxed state. Although exercise is crucial for a dog, a lot of high energy exercise can work a dog up and sort of condition a need for that kind of rush. Work with him on self control and try to maintain that ability to settle down and relax and you will probably find him being less "GO GO GO" after he gets better as well.
posted by hindmost at 10:23 PM on October 22, 2007

Lots of good advice there, but I'm curious, what breed is your monster - that's huge for a one-year-old!
posted by unsliced at 5:01 AM on October 23, 2007

I just wanted to Nth the Kong with peanut butter and also to warn you about some of the other hide-a-treat toys out there. My dog loves her Kong so much that I wanted to get her something else along the same line to vary it up a little. Since the Kong is kind of expensive, I picked out a cheaper plastic "tablet" that you hide a treat in. Within 15 minutes she had chewed the cheaper toy into hundreds of tiny pieces and was bleeding at the gums. I was astonished! So anyway, just advising that you observe your dog with the toy before leaving her/him with it. We do leave our dog with the Kong, which seems almost indestructible.
posted by ubu at 11:23 AM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: I've tried the Kong with treats. Never peanut butter - I'll give that a shot.

Hiding stuff in the house works well....but she's gotten damn good at it. It now takes me longer to hide something than it does for her to find it!!

unsliced, I got her from the pound. She seems to be a Labrador/shepherd mix.

And just as an FYI - my vet called me back. Seems the radiologist thinks that she may have some sort of bone infection that is common in young dogs, but goes away as they get older. We'll see if the limp returns.

thanks all!
posted by TheDude at 4:22 PM on October 31, 2007

Response by poster: In case anyone is wondering, the radiologist thinks she has Panosteitis.

thanks again.
posted by TheDude at 10:49 AM on November 6, 2007

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