Dachshunds are adorable. These little guys and gals waddle their way into our hearts but those long bodies and little legs can sometimes come with a host of back issues. Today we’ll talk about how to recognize if your Dachshund might be having back issues and we’ll also give you 3 vital exercises to strengthen your Dachshund’s back.
A little preparation can go a long way, so let’s get started with what you need to know to help minimize potential back problems with your furry little friend.
Recognizing When Your Dachshund Might Have Back Problems
Your dog can’t talk, of course, but there are a number of telltale signs that can let you know when your Dachshund is experiencing back pain. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:
- Wobbly walks – Intervertebral Disc disease is the most common of serious back problems for Dachshunds and a wobbly walk can be a sign that your dog is suffering from this. A quick trip to the vet can rule this out and you should address this behavior as soon as possible to get the jump on this condition.
- Changes in appetite and activity – If your dog is eating less or even refusing meals then this is a big red flag, especially if your dog is resistant to playtime. Reduced interest in activity and food generally indicates that your dog is ill or in pain. This is another case where an immediate vet visit is a good idea.
- Hunching down – If your dog tends to hunch their back muscles a lot then this could be a sign that they are in pain. Watch closely and you might also see spasming in the muscles, which are quick but generally quite apparent if you are watching for them. Hunching in the back and neck may be signs of Intervertebral Disc disease so if you see them, it’s definitely vet time.
- Incontinence – With severe back issues like Intervertebral Disc disease your dog can lose control of its bowels and bladder. This is another huge red flag to watch for so if you see it, visit the vet before beginning your exercise program for your Dachshund.
Of course, if your dog is having back pain it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have Intervertebral Disc disease, it could just well be that they jumped and landed wrong or they aren’t getting enough exercise. Let’s discuss some doggie-workouts that can help to strengthen up your Dachshund’s back.
Swimming Is A Great Core Exercise For Your Dachshund
The easiest and one of the best exercises for your Dachshund is swimming. Swimming is a low-impact workout as the water is going to support your dogs’ weight, letting them paddle their legs and build up strength without any undue strain.
Now, due to those short legs, your Dachshund isn’t going to be able to swim for long periods of time. You’ll want to invest in a doggie life-jacket to help to ensure that your dog doesn’t get overwhelmed and all swimming sessions need to be supervised.
Swimming is especially good for overweight Dachshunds who need to lose a little weight before resuming a more active, healthier lifestyle.
Backward Walks Can Increase Body Awareness In Your Dachshund
Your Dachshund doesn’t always pay so much attention to their back legs and this is something which you can remedy. By teaching your Dachshund to walk backward, you promote body awareness and teach them to rely a little more on their back legs than they are currently.
This is important with Dachshunds, as those long, low bodies were bred by design, as these dogs used to chase animals into their burrows. In the modern-day, it’s more of an aesthetics choice, but your dog needs a little nudge to realize their full mobility so that they don’t just rely mostly on their front legs.
To do this exercise, you simply need to get your dog’s attention with a treat held in front of the face, a little bit higher than the head. Slowly move the treat backward, keeping your dog’s attention, so that they are inclined to put a little weight on their back legs as they walk slowly backward.
With a little practice, your dog will know what you want, and they’ll move backward with more practiced agility that lets you know that your dog is learning to use those back legs much more regularly. This will strengthen the legs as well as the back and it’s extremely cute to watch, so it’s a fun exercise for everyone.
Balance Disk Exercises
This exercise will actually need a prop but you can get inexpensive balance disks quite cheaply online or at most local department stores. Using the disk to strengthen your dog’s back and hind legs is a breeze. Simply hide a treat in your hands, placing your dog’s front paws on the center of the disk, so that each paw is on its own side next to the center ball of the balance disk.
At this point, show your dog the treat, holding it in front of their face, just out of reach and a little higher than your dog’s head so that they put their weight on their back legs and assume an attentive, heads-up posture. Have them hold this for a minute or so before you reward them with the treat and repeat this a few times per session.
Try this 3 times a week at first and you should see an improvement in overall agility and posture.
Some Final Words On Dachshunds And Back Issues
Dachshunds are prone to having bad backs but these 3 vital exercises can most definitely help. That said if you suspect that your dog is having back issues you should definitely schedule a trip to the vet to make sure that it’s nothing serious.
After an exam, you can let the vet know about your planned exercise program and your vet will certainly have an idea or two on how to help. With a little exercise, your Dachshund’s back can be strengthened and you can minimize the chances of back problems in the future.
It’s all about being proactive. Until next time, we wish you and your Dachshund the best!