Post Surgical Care
Post luxating patella surgery – weeks 3-4
By DANIELLE BECK
Week 3 / 4
Now we’re getting into the interesting part. From Spock’s perspective he’s fine, he can put weight on his leg, he can run, he can jump, he can play. He doesn’t understand that he’s not allowed to do all of those things. Even though he’s healed well on the outside, he’s still healing internally, the pins and the bone need to heal and his muscle needs time to grow and strengthen.
Therefore, this is the week where he’s been allowed out of his crate more, but on his line. He’s been allowed to engage in static sniffing games, utilising his snuffle matt and I’ve been looking very silly on walks with my other dog Nuffle, as i rub cloths against tress and bushes to bring home for Spock to investigate.
It’s important that we don’t underestimate how much scent means to our dogs. we’re a visual species, we see the world through our eyes, it’s our primary scent, but our dogs? They literally see through their noses ! Scent and sniffing is such an important part of dog life. Sniffing and snooting is like a doggy form of meditation. It lowers their heart rate, helps them to relax and is fantastic enrichment for dogs on rest.
Sniffing and ‘hunting’ is so important that he’s decided that he’s going to sniff and hunt the birds and other wildlife that might be in the garden. Now, yes this is good enrichment, but for an under-stimulated dog, this is incredibly exciting if he finds something. Therefore garden scenting is limited, i don’t want to create a hunting problem as that’s the most exciting enrichment he has.
The same is true for the window. Spock isn’t a window barker, but being cooped up in the house with very little he’s allowed to do….he could very quickly turn into on. So relaxing on the window, under supervision with me, is allowed. it’s a great time to practise our ‘check in’.
“I’ve been looking very silly on walks with my other dog Nuffle, as I rub cloths against tress and bushes to bring home for Spock to investigate”
On week 4 we let him go for short walks. He’s due for surgery this week on his other so we were still limiting exercise. We used this time to have sniffing fun out out the house, away from the garden. we hid treats in the leaves on the floor, the grass and stuck some cheese to trees for him to find. This gives him focus and helps to calm dogs when they first arrive somewhere.
After the sniffing he was focused enough to go and chill out and watch the world go by. Being an adolescent dog he still needs to learn about the world and his place in it. This is even more important for Spock as he’s my next assistance dog in training. Being able to be calm and focused in many environments is a huge part of his life, but a vital skill for all dogs.
Week 3/4 Top Tips
- Scentwork – Sniffing is amazing for our dogs ! Give them plenty of opportunities to sniff and snoot.
- Attention Seeking – Keep an eye out for bad habits being formed from boredom, in order to either gain your attention or entertain themselves.
- Relaxation – temper tantrums are to be expected this week. Don’t let them go on for longer than a couple of minutes unless you have done A LOT of frustration tolerance and emotional self management exercises.
Below is an example of a temper tantrum other wise known as a frustration burst, in a dog. the signs of frustration for Spock are
- Short sharp single barks, with high pitched squeaks
- Digging and shuffling about
- Over in less that 2 minutes
- Huffs then relaxes.
It’s really important that you do the work to ensure you dog is able to calm themselves down; like Spock is learning to. Never leave them to bark or cry it out. This can do more harm than good.
Emotional management is a gradual process that they need to learn. You can find out more about how to do this in my ‘If In Doubt; Chill Out’ course and ebook.