The most recent event on this journey of clicker training was noticing that my dog, Sophie, was lame. She was not putting any weight on her right front and leaned left. I already know that both stifles (knees) have crepitus and are probably at least a bit painful. She, of course, does not let on that there’s a problem. Animals don’t. (But then neither do people to some extent.) Animals are hard wired to hide their weaknesses. Otherwise they’d be lunch. It doesn’t matter whether the animal is a predator or a prey animal.
Dogs with weak hind ends throw their weight forward and the font end has to compensate by taking not only the weight but the job of locomotion as well. Lamenesses with all quadrupeds can be diagonal. If her right front was the most lame, then her left hind was the most lame in back first.
I’ve taken Sophie to a chiropractor several times for most notably being unable to turn right – her neck was stiff. But her pelvis was also out. I think the pelvis problem is caused by the stifles being sore and weak and she compensates in the pelvis. And that compensation travels spirally through the body toward the front. It does this in humans, too, and I should know; I’m trained in massage therapy and Pilates!
She comes up lame and I take her to the vet. They prescribe a pain medication (Meloxicam) but I also take her to the chiro vet for an adjustment.
At some point in this process, it finally dawns on me why I’ve been having some problems with training Sophie to scratch her front nails on a scratch board. Duh!
She kept sitting down when we trained for the left front paw. I could have had a V8! So dumb! She kept sitting down because she was having to stand on the lame right front! Of course! Finally I get it! Stoopid hooman! And here I was trying to train out that particular “chain” of behavior.
I mentioned this event to my friend and fellow blogger, Eileen Anderson, and she mentioned that Judith Beam and pointed out to her that it takes a fair amount of core strength for a dog to use a scratch board well. Another duh! Of course it does. The dog needs to balance on three legs with the weight back slightly in order to scratch but also scratch with vigor effectively. Now try doing that if the back legs aren’t happy because the stifles are creaky.
Then I went out to my horses to work with their feet, especially Ollie, in anticipation of the trimmer coming out again. There again, the horse has to have some overall balance and core strength to have a foot in the air for the farrier/trimmer to work on it, especially for duration. Sometimes the hoof is between the farrier’s legs and sometimes on a stand.
I’ve watched Ollie sway back and forth while a front foot was on the stand and I could never really understand why he did that. Again, Ollie has compromised hocks and one injured stifle. He also doesn’t have the best proprioception.
While Ollie has gotten much better about his feet and his proprioception has improved, I’m sure that he also lacked core strength. I’ve worked with him on balance cushions and on a teeter. The teeter has not been his favorite activity. In fact, he was quite afraid of it for a long time. He’s getting better, but I’ve put in a good year on teaching hind-end coordination and proprioception as well as working on the teeter and with balance cushions. I think he has also gotten better balance or developed more core strength in the meantime so that he doesn’t rock back and forth while a front foot is on the hoof stand.
The one who did that this last time was Atticus. Maybe he’s lost some core strength since having laminitis and not getting the exercise he used to? I’ll have to add in more teeter work to help that out.
Anyway a few random brain cells came together yesterday and I thought I’d share those thoughts with you.
Has this helped spark a few thoughts for you?