How to Prevent Dog Back Injuries

How to Avoid Dog Spine Problems in Training

There is much talk about dog back problems nowadays. I have written the recommendations on how to avoid them previously. Thus, the problem is not only genetic, but also our responsibility. I leave it to your notice.
How to avoid dog injuries and keep a dog healthy in active dog training
Below are some advices not to injure dog's back occasionally and keep yourself from looking for the reasons of it.
1. Turn attention to the way your dog picks up a thrown ball (toy). If it is waiting for it to bounce and catches, then there is no problem. If it grabs a ball when it lays on the ground, do not throw it too far, it is a high risk to get a spine trauma for the reason of sharp hit-twisting loadings on it.

Solid Rubber Dog Ball on Rope

2. Never throw a ball (toy) to a dog down a slope, even if it does not seem steep. Absolutely try to avoid front attacks and sending a dog downhills. It is dangerous not only for the reason of spine traumas but also knocked out front teeth.
3. Never throw a ball vertically.
4. Do not use frisbee to play with your dog.
5. In winter period dogs that are kept in aviaries should have a good weight, to avoid kidneys cold in the first turn. That's why do not train your dog too much for attack and with dynamic exercises.

6. Never train your dog when it is slippery in winter. Sometimes it is enough for a dog just to slip over the porch of its aviary to have serious problems as the result of the injuries it gets.
7. Avoid keeping the dog in narrow cages and boxes.
8. Practice warming-up exercises before jumping or protection dog training. Sometimes just 5 minutes walking is enough. But I'd recommend to warm up better. Never pull your dog out from a box in your car at once to a training class for jumping or protection.
9. When training your dog protection elements do not use elastic bands to "raise the speed of attack" or force of attack - it wears intervertebral discs out.
10. If you use dog bite wedges for front dog attack training do not use it too often and work more with a normal sleeve to let your dog real understanding of attack with a sleeve and have better muscles grouping.

Dog Biting Wedge for Puppy and Young Dog

Remember that in strong front attack the first thing that happens is a hitting spinal compression, and then a relatively gradual decompression. Overloading may reach 6 units (it means dog weight reaches about 200-250 kg). I am telling it as a pilot who knows impact of overloadings to the spine (one of the professional diseases of pilots is an intervertebral hernia, some of my fellows have even 5-6 at once).
11. Do not work on attack too often.

K9 Bite Sleeve for Dog Training

12. Avoid regular jumping over 150 cm in dog training. As a rule, 1 m hurdle does not cause spinal injuries unless a dog makes a mistake and falls on its back.

Hurdle Jump for Dogs

13. Do not keep a leash too high while training your dog for protection. This way you will prevent a dog from turning over and falling on its back from the height of 1 m and more in the attempt to bite a sleeve (I hope you understand what I mean).
14. Do not work on protection with unknown helpers. First get to know the way he works with other dogs. If you have doubts, do not train front attacks and other dynamic exercises. First try other stages of guard, finding a decoy in a blind etc.
15. Take care of your sport dogs. They did not ask you to train them as sportsmen. You are responsible for their health. Remember that an injury happens frequently for no reason. Value your efforts. Spinal injuries are forever.
Take care of yourself!

The article is kindly presented for ForDogTrainers by an experienced dog trainer Sergey Zhirkevich, who provides international seminars and is ready to share his experience.
Sergey Zhirkevich is in cynology since 1987. International judge in dog sports in FCI, instructor, handler, trainer in IPO, FH.
His achievements in dog sports: 90 starts in general with 8 dogs in various sports. Among them 14 at the world and Europe championships. The greatest ones:
3 times the Champion of Russia in IPO-FH 2009, 2017, 2018.
2 times a winner of the Cup of Russia in IPO-FH - 2010 and 2017.
Vice-champion of Russia in IPO-FH - 2011.
Silver winner of the Cup of Russian in IPO-FH - 2011.
Bronze winner of the Championship of Europe in IPO-FH - 2010 in personal and team trials.
4th place in personal and 5th in team result at the IPO-FH Championship of Europe 2011.
10th at the IPO-FH World Championship 2011.
The holder of Russian IPO Cups 2007 and 2011.
Bronze winner of the IPO Championship and Cup of Russia 2006, 2007. 2010 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Silver winner of the Ukrainian IPO-3 Cup 2006.
The winner of the IPO-3 International Trial in Greece 2014.
Took part in the FCI world championships 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 and WUSV 2007 with 3 dogs (the best result 272 points, 22-th place, the 3rd result among German Shepherds, and 2nd in tracking.
15the at the Universal WUSV Championship 2014.
Multiple times the captain of Russian teams at the IPO (VPG) and IPO-FH world championships.
The trainer of two Russian IPO-3 champions (2003 and 2006), IPO-3 vice-champion of Russia in 2012 and bronze winner of Russian IPO-3 championship 2013.
The trainer of the champion and the vice champion of Privolzhskiy Federal District and the champion of Russia in the Obedience Trial and as the Guard Dog in 2014.
The best sportsman of Russian Union of the German Shepherd Handlers 2007.