All you dog lovers out there will no doubt be aware that Crufts starts this month, and here in the office we can’t wait! However, it got us thinking – man’s best friend is great for a whole host of reasons, but they can actually be detrimental to your health in some situations.
After a quick bit of research we found that in February 2012, one hospital noted 37 cases of patients being admitted as a result of accidents involving dogs. These were generally caused by their dogs pulling them over whilst they were on a lead or knocking them over whilst they ran towards them.
The article in question suggested that this would be a pattern replicated throughout the UK, and with more people joining the ranks of those owned by dogs, we can’t help but think the numbers might be even higher by now.
How then can you avoid injury as a result of your four-legged best friend? Just as importantly, what can you do if you do sustain an injury?
#1 – Obedience
We’re sure you’re very obedient and well behaved when you’re on the lead, but what about Bruno? Many dogs, regardless of their size, can be pullers when they’re on the lead, and this can cause numerous problems for dog walkers.
Regularly being pulled along (especially by a large dog) can put strain on your fingers, wrists, shoulders and can also lead to twists in your back muscles. Equally, there is an increased risk of you being pulled over, specifically if you are walking on uneven or slippery ground.
The best way to get around this is to ensure that your dog has good lead discipline. You can take the to do some research online, there are some fantastic articles including videos to help you get better control. Alternatively, why not enrol yourselves on to an obedience course, and meet up with fellow dog lovers?
#2 – Regular walking
It may sound counter intuitive, but walking your dog regularly, at least once a day, can reduce the amount pulling your dog does. Dogs are excitable (it’s one of the reasons we love them), and if going for a walk is an ad hoc treat, this means that when they are allowed out, it’s even more exciting for them.
Equally, walking them regularly burns off energy, which means that once they have been exercised, they tend to be calmer. If you have a large breed dog, taking them out for an hour a day is likely to wear them out, and they are less likely to pull.
#3 – Load them up
Did you know you can get specific weight jackets for dogs? These are ideal for pullers, as it creates extra weight for them to carry, which again helps them burn off their energy. Make sure you do your research on what the best type of coats might be for them, and how much weight your specific dog will be allowed to carry. Take in to account their level of fitness, age, strength, weight and the length of walk you’re likely to take them on.
#4 – Wear sensible shoes
It should go without saying, but make sure you are dressed appropriately for your dog walk. Wearing high heels whilst walking a dog, even if they’re not known for pulling, is never a good idea. Unstable shoes are more likely to lead to you twisting your ankle, walking with an unusual gait, or falling over.
Boots or even trainers would be better to ensure you have a good grip.
#5 – Seek help
If you are injured, or find that you have pain in your shoulder or back as a result of walking your dog, it is best that you seek help from a professional sooner rather than later. You may not need to see your GP, but you could go straight to see a physiotherapist, for example.
Treating any pain or conditions early on usually means that the problem can be sorted before it gets worse. Equally, you will be given advice on how best to ensure that such injuries do not occur again in the future.