So you bought a quarantine puppy, a COVID Canine(teen).
You are not alone. With so much time spent at home due to self isolation and working from home, many individuals and families seem to have collectively decided this is the perfect time to welcome a new pet and all the joys that come along with it. In British Columbia, there were instances of over 200 adoption applications being received per pet. In Wisconsin, they had 400 foster applications and in just 5 days, 159 animals were adopted and 160 were placed in foster care.
Adopting a dog can have a number of benefits including physical as well as emotional improvements. In a study from the University of British Columbia, students were given time to cuddle, pet and chat with multiple dogs. The students completed questionnaires immediately before, after and 10 hours after their sessions. The findings confirmed a decrease in stress and negativity immediately following the session and continued to experience these benefits 10 hours later. During a stressful global pandemic the emotional support and companionship provided by dogs has been invaluable for our emotional wellbeing.
Having a dog can also provide you with physical benefits, with the most obvious being an increase in time spent moving while you walk and play with your dog. There are also some other physical demands that owning a dog may place on your body that you might not have considered. Pets, like children, are typically situated closer to ground level than we are and require numerous bends through the day as we take care of their needs. Whether you decided to adopt or foster a smaller or larger breed of dog, there are many physical things to consider. Below are some tips and tricks to ensure the newest addition to your family will help you get stronger and healthier, not lead you down the road of potential injury.
Tips to Consider
Walking your dog and preventing the pull!
- Limit complete arm extension.
- You have more control and are less likely to injure yourself with your arm close to your side and shoulders anchored.
- Use a loose leash method — the dog won’t pull and your arm will be comfortably by your side
- Try a front clip harness
- Dogs naturally pull harder when they’re being pulled from the back so a front clip harness decrease the likelihood of your dog pulling
- Bring treats!
- Most dogs respond to food very positively. Check with your local dog trainer to determine the best times to reward your dog to enforce good behaviour.
Feeding your dog
- Limit heavy dog food bags
- Use a cart when at the store instead of carrying the bag to the checkout and your car
- Be aware of bending to put food in the dish.
- Take into consideration the hidden load of your body weight, not just the weight of the food and dish.
- Try training your pup to sit and wait for food to be poured before starting to eat, this may reduce your risk of falling or getting knocked over.
Interacting with your dog
- Take a knee when you are required to get down at their level like wiping off muddy paws or putting on their harness.
- When greeting your dog establish a wide stable base and hinge at the hips when you bend down to pet them. Your big dog will be less likely to topple you over in this position!
- Alternatively you could take a seat, possibly right down onto the floor, or on a couch/chair.
Be aware of your ever growing pup!
- Depending on the breed, remember that with each day your new best friend is gaining some lbs. Remember that when you are lifting your dog you are lifting both their weight and the weight of the ‘hidden load’, which is the weight of your upper body.
- Keep in mind that aging dogs typically move a little slower and require more assistance. This means more bending and lifting. Consider purchasing a ramp or stairs to assist both you and your dog in this regard.
Introducing one of our MoveSafe Lead Consultants, Jill and her 12lb, 3 year old, Superstar Pup, Chewie. We asked Jill to provide a “day in the life” review of dog ownership and how she incorporates MoveSafe Principles into her daily routine with Chewie.
I am incredibly fortunate to have already had this wonderful furry creature in my life for the past 2.5 years. During this global pandemic I am even more grateful as he provides me with constant companionship, entertainment, and love. Being that Chewie is quite small in size, the physical toll on my body to lift him is less than that of a larger dog, however, there are still many other physical demands that have been added into my life since this little guy has become a part of it.
Chewie, the good little dog that he is, typically wakes me up prior to my alarm so I can get out of bed and let him out into the yard. When he comes back into the house, if his paws are wet, I pick up the towel left by the door and bend down to wipe off each paw. I do try to hang the towel on the railing to avoid bending all the way down to the floor. Typically I will sit on the steps so I am closer to his height while I clean his paws.
Chewie grazes his food, and will let me know if the food dish or water is empty by digging in it. I then bend to pick up the bowl and fill it with food, or water, at the counter. I have to bend again when placing the bowl back on the ground.
Love and Laughter
Chewie is very cute, so I do bend down regularly to pet him or pick him up for hugs. He also greatly enjoys being chased around the yard or house, in which case I will end up in all kinds of positions. I try to think of being in athletic positions while down at his level, and a lot of the time I end up in planks or doing burpees, giving me a little exercise bonus out of it. When we play fetch I sit right down onto the floor, and have trained him to bring the ball right back to me. Additionally, he knows many tricks, and is more than happy to perform them for a treat reward! Some of the tricks do involve bending down to give a high five, shake a paw, weave him between my legs etc. And of course when he finally gets rewarded it also typically requires a bend (sometimes he’ll meet me halfway!).
Chewie is crate trained, and when I leave the house he gets a toy and treat to have inside his crate with him. He does know when it is time to get in on his own, and happily bounds in, but I do bend to place the treat and toy as well as close the crate door.
I am lucky enough to have a yard for Chewie to roam and run around in. However, this does mean yard clean up, which involves looking down/searching the yard of puppy “landmines”. I attempt to do this daily so it does not take as much time and I can save myself from bending multiple times to collect the waste. As well I save my neck from being flexed forward searching for extended periods of time. Regardless, after finishing the task I always refresh my shoulders with some shoulder rolls and do my neck stretches.
Baths generally only occur about once a month, but they do require kneeling beside the tub. I will put down an extra towel to kneel on, and I make sure to not over reach with my shoulders, or collapse through my back as I lean over the side of the tub to wash him. When he’s done I swaddle him up and cuddle him to dry him off. Again, it is an advantage that he is not very heavy so I can stand to do this. I then get to watch him run around like a mad man as he attempts to dry the rest of himself.
Overall I feel very lucky to have my little companion, especially during self isolation. He is helpful to encourage outdoor activities, and has proven useful as an extra weight for home workouts. Most importantly he provides daily love and constant joy.