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New puppy? Or a trouble dog?! Here are some tips to avoid injury

I don’t know whether it is because it is Springtime but there does seem to be a lot of talk in the air about puppies. Anyhow, I thought you may like some advice about how to look after yourselves while you’re looking after the pup.

Picking up pup (or should I say - pickin up after the pup!!) I have two Golden retrievers, one is ten years old and the other is a very playful fifteen week old. From experience I can tell you that puppies personalities can vary greatly just like humans, from calm and placid, to overly playful and clumsy. On occasion you may feel the urge (or need, if they are being naughty) to pick your puppy up, to either cuddle them or to move them away from an area or even to show some dominance.

Holding a puppy is easy, whilst they are standing on all fours, use one hand to lift them up from under their tummy and the other hand to lift them up from their bottom, eventually having them sat round cradled like you would if holding a baby.

If however, they are being naughty and need to be placed somewhere to learn a lesson then you can hold them by the loose skin on the back of their neck. This skin is where their mum would have used her teeth to move them from one place to another, it’s perfectly fine to hold them as it shouldn’t hurt them and can also double up as a sign of dominance if they are being naughty.

Make sure you bend down properly first and make sure your puppy is beneath you in the middle before you lift. To avoid back pain whilst doing this make sure you keep your back nice and straight, contract your stomach (10% lower tummy tucked in) and bend from your hips and knees. Avoid bending and also twisting from your lower back at all costs. If you have a bad back or a history of a bad back then I would try to avoid lifting by the scruff of the neck as this is a one-handed maneuver. Unless your back is fit and strong it could aggravate a previous or current back problem due to the uneven distribution of weight lifted.

Playing with pup Playing with pup is great fun… until you want to stop and they don’t!… this is the point where you must be sensible and call it a day with playing on your terms. If pup continues wanting to play and begins to bark or jump up then ignore them and turn away.

If this fails then leave them alone in the room or move them to a different room on their own to teach them that trying to get your attention will not work. The problem with continuing play when you know you should stop is that you may over exert yourself or your back if it is weak or if you have a history of back pain.

This may lead to a worsening of the current or previous problem so be careful! Be sensible and use the opportunity to teach your puppy that it is you that is in charge of when play starts and ends. If you are interested in how puppies and dogs initiate play. Look up the 'play bow'.

Feeding pup When you first get your pup (at around 8 weeks old usually), their food will be very small and not too much of a problem to store or handle. However, as they get bigger so will the amount they consume and therefore the weight of the food you have to carry. Be careful carrying the heavy bags, your technique when lifting is very important and in some people’s cases it may be a better idea to ask for help rather than trying to carry a heavy bag on your own.

Walking Pup

If, like my ten-year old, your dog pulls on the lead, then I would recommend delegating the walking to somebody else until your back is fit and strong again. Back pain can easily be worsened by the jarring that can occur as you try to correct your footing whilst walking with a dog that pulls.

If you have to walk a dog that tends to pull then take into consideration the route you are going to take as avoiding slippery muddy paths and uneven surfaces is recommended.

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