Rutlands Australian Cobberdogs
Puppy Exercise The Right and Wrong Way
These guidelines apply to all sized puppies under a year old, but for much longer with large sized puppies.
Think of a puppy’s many immature bony joints as each one throughout its body being attached to its own set of baby muscles, ligaments and tendons. When puppy takes a step, these soft tissue support groups all work together to open and close their own joint.
With mechanical ( on leash) exercise, the rhythm is set and regular – like a machine - and sets the stage for repetitive strain fatigue or injury. When soft tissue starts to fatigue, it can no longer regulate support for the joint it’s assigned to protect. And so joint lubrication may leak, bone may scrape on bone causing cartilage damage, and the stage is being set for arthritis in the future and even hip, shoulder and elbow OCDs while still young.
IMPACT strain such as getting bumped in too rough playing, jumping or leaping up or down from high places over stresses immature joints with possible same results.
The exercise referred to in the X Ray photos refers to 'mechanical' exercise, not to puppy just running around playing. Large breed puppies should not jump up or down from cars, couches etc, should not slip and slide on polished floors nor go for long leash walks, nor swim nor go up or down stairs for at least 12 to 18 months of age. Large breed puppies should not be allowed to play and rough house with dogs a lot heavier and bigger than themselves.
The following notes are included in the puppy raising sheets that accompany Rutlands Australian Cobberdog puppies to their new homes, but apply equally to all breeds and crossbreeds.
Another precursor to arthritis - neglected toenails!
In nature, dogs and puppies run on a variety of surfaces in any one day; dirt, grass, pebbles, gritty gravel and rock. While they run and play, the rough surfaces make them bunch their paws which strengthens surrounding soft tissues, and bone. Nails are naturally ground down.
In a domestic environment however, they spend most of their time either indoors, or outside on bowling green smooth lawns and smooth pathways. Add long untrimmed toenails to the picture and it's easy to understand why we may be setting up our dogs to fail in later life.
When nails get too long, pressure pushes up from the ground or floor into the sensitive nail bed. To avoid pain, the dog leans back on his ankles, which in turn stresses not only ankles, elbows and knees, but also shoulder and hip assembly although the results may not be felt until months or even years later. We only have to think how our toes feel in shoes that are too tight to understand how a dog with overgrown toenails feels 24/7.
A dog's toenails grow in a sabre shape. A blood vessel runs along the centre of each nail and always stays the same distance from the tip of the nail. So as the nail grows, the blood vessel travels down with it. This is why nails can't be cut from too long to just right in one session. Conversely, when the tip of the nail is cut, the blood vessel shrinks upwards so as to keep its distance from the tip, constant.
This process takes a little time, so if toenails have been allowed to get too long, a little is usually cut in sessions two weeks apart until the desired length is reached. The cut is always made just below the highest point of the arc shape of the nail so as to avoid a bleed. This place is easy to see on white nails, but with black nails the arc shape is a sure guide.