At the beginning, nobody is a perfect dog-parent, especially if it’s your first Mr Dog. We learn through experience, observation of our dog-son, literature, talking to seasoned dog-owners, vets… But there are so many minor things which we even do not realize can harm our dog. PLAYING is playing, so what can go wrong with it? But alas, there are some quite often practiced activities that can SERIOUSLY HARM our dog.
Below, we are describing a few “normal” ways of playing, which can be dangerus. The cases are taken both from our own experience or heard from vets and friend-dog-owners.
1. PLAYING WITH A STICK – we wrote about it in detail some time ago HERE, that sticks (apart from behavioral faults) are the cause of vet interventions (we know it from our vet-friend). Sticks, dry ones in particular, are very crusty and the splinters can get stuck in the gum, palate or gullet. It is very probable in the case of young pups, whose chewing drive is especially strong. The second TRAP is situation “dog on a stick”, meaning that a running or jumping dog can get speared on the stick he’s holding in his mouth. It’s just enough he stumbles or holds the stick not at the right angle. Our friend Jola got through stitching her amstaff’s cheek (!) after such incident… That’s why we should always carry a ball or a rubber toy with us.
2. THROWING / CHEWING PEBBLES (STONES) – it may happen on the beach, when both we and Mr Dog get bored with sunbathing, we come up with various play-ideas using available “equipmnet”. One of the games is tossing pebbles, which Mr Dog is supposed to snatch in the air. What can happen?
Firstly, the dog can choke with the pebbel, when it falls too deep.
Secondly, his tooth (teeth) can get broken or chipped, and if we keep on playing such “games”, the teeth enamel will get wasted (and this in turn will cause pain and expose teeth to rotting).
3. THROWING BALL / TOY ON A SLIPPERY SURFACE – you probably ask: what can happen? The “only” possible jeopardy is that the dog will skid and I will laugh at the freaky pose. But alas! The “freaky pose” can have serious consequences. Wet grass, melting snow or slippery tiles is highly traumatic environment. If petrol-heads are reading this, they can imagine what the rear-drive car performs on the wet surface: the back overtakes the front and the car skids. The same happens with the dog, as he also is “rear-driven”, so when he wildly chases the ball and suddenly stops, he can easily skid and his butt will overtake the rest. The consequences can be really serious: the back (spine) injury is very likely to occur, dislocation of a joint or tearing a muscle or a ligament. The rear legs are particularly exposed: the hip, the knee and the ankle… We have been through it – frenzy ball chase, rapid braking on wet grass, sudden squeak and Mr Dog falls and is not able to get up for a while… horrible experience! Since then, on wet grass we only play hide-the-ball – no more throwing!
4. JUMPING TO THE STICK / BALL & FRISBEE (!) – it’s a very spectacular game and you can take great shots of “a flying dog” and FRISBEE has been a trendy dog-sport… But do NOT PLAY like that! Have you ever recorded a slow-motion-video of such “performance”? No? Try it. You will see the abnormal way the dogs body (spine) twists and the extreme force the body and spine undergo. In UK, the association The Kennel Club BANNED ‘frisbee’ game at a dog show in Keswick, as the vets decided that it puts the dogs health in danger (read the article), as there have been occasions where dogs jumped high and twisted their back, and even had to be put down… We personally knew a poodle, Czumik (very similar to Mr Dog, but at that time Mr Dog had not been born yet), who got spine degeneration because of such games and the pressure caused by the injury led to dramatic behavioral changes (he started biting his owner)… It is not sure whether it was the result of pain and discomfort he felt or the brain changes. So, do not encourage your dog to such acrobatic tricks, as it can bring about tragic ending.
Certainly, not all the cases described above will end in injury, because it depends on dogs individual inclinations, general health, temper or e.g. the speed he chases the ball with. If Mr Chubby Dog toddles after a ball with a impressive speed of a snail, he is more likely to be exposed to panting than twisting his leg; but if he is a hyper-active-lunatic and runs with the speed of light, the the slippery surface can be really dangerous and cause serious injury. With injuries is like with eating bones: one dog will be just fine, but the other will end up at deaths door.
So we keep on saying: PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURING. Remember, that having a dog is like having a child: the dog is not capable of predicting consequences of his actions, so we must think for him!!!
You are welcome to share any of your experiences as a warning to other dog-heads.
(safe playing with dog, what to play with a dog, games to play with a dog)