My Dog or Me…My Knees Can’t Take It!

Dear Ms. Meniscus:

I live alone and I love my dog but he can be a little too rowdy sometimes. I have osteoarthritis pretty badly in my knees and when I take him for a walk he pulls hard on the leash and causes me a lot of pain trying to keep up with him. I cannot get rid of him because he’s part of my family, but I cannot keep subjecting myself to this pain. What can I do?

Dog Lover in Ohio

Dear Dog Lover in Ohio,

Living with a dog can be very difficult for people living with chronic diseases. Since we cannot efficiently communicate with our canine friends, we cannot convey that their rapid actions can cause hurt/damage to us. 

Some people might think they have to sell or get rid of their dogs for this reason, in a “dog or me” kind of mentality.  Others might even consider the more drastic decision of sending Spot to the “farm,” as some parents like to tell their children.  There are alternatives though, and of course, they depend on your pooch’s personality. 

One alternative, and perhaps the best one, is to send Spot to puppy boot camp.  Obedience training will help him to mellow out and to be less likely to unexpectedly burst into a full sprint when he sees a leaf blowing down the middle of the street.  It is a little costly, but it might be worth the extra money you save on pain treatment later because of the stress on your joints.

Also, you might consider investing in a dog walker.  Dogs, especially young puppies have lots of energy, and need to exercise on a regular basis.  If Spot is cooped up all day at home, he will want to release his unused energy on playing with you! After his walks though, you will find that he is calmer because he has released his pent-up, puppy energy.

Find Spot a playmate.  Sometimes dogs get lonely, and if you find a neighborhood friend for him, you might be able to set up play dates and let him run and have fun under someone else’s supervision.  Be careful that you don’t get stuck with two big dogs though, or your original problem just doubled! You can easily find other dogs at dog parks or even walking the dog out in the neighborhood.

Finally, it is important to consider dog traits before you choose your next dog.  Do research online or ask your neighborhood pet shop for a dog that has less “aggressive” tendencies.

The bottom line is that you do not have to give up Spot.  Instead, find a way to make sure that he gets the attention and training he needs.

–M

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