Keeping a Dog Down after Surgery

Keeping a Dog Quiet After Surgery

I often get asked what a person can do to keep their dog quiet after a spay, neuter or other surgery. I decided to do a blog post on this because I am also looking to prepare my dog, Bam, as he will eventually lose his ability to walk and will need stimulation as he lays around. In short, this blog post really covers any dog that has limited mobility for whatever reason. Of course, always check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog can do these activities safely. Let’s get to it!

The first and easiest is the LikiMat. These come in many shapes and sizes. I suggest getting a variety. Offer one, one day and a different one the next to keep things interesting. You can also fill it with different things like cream cheese, peanut butter, pumpkin or do as I did, and put Bam’s raw food in it and use it for every mealtime. It really slowed Bam down. I do not recommend keeping this item out after it has been licked clean. If your dog is a chewer it will get chewed. This item ranges between $7-$12 on Amazon. Oh, and don’t throw your Amazon box away when the Likimats arrive. The box will come in handy later. Here I show you two different kinds of Likimats. I was surprised by the Likimat Wobbler as it is great for Bam as he is laying down. I am definitely going to use this later as he declines.

Sneak Snack Attack Game

The “Sneaky Snack Attack” game was quite fun and super easy to accomplish. Get the box you got your Lickimats in and cute holes in it. Don’t cut yourself, cut the box. Buy a pack of hot dogs and you are set. Sit down in front of your dog and poke the hot dog in the holes and have your dog try to catch it. Bam LOVES this game. Here he is playing it. I don’t let him win all the time, but I do let him win in the beginning so he knows he can. I can play this game with him until he stops eating for his lifetime. All your dog needs to do is lay there and use his/her neck muscles to play. Yum and fun!

Teach your dog to “Shake”. Stimulating your dog mentally by teaching a new skill keeps boredom at bay which means they are not running around the house ripping out stitches or worse. Calm while healing is best. Here it goes!

  1. Offer a closed hand with food in it. If you want your dog to lift the left paw you will set your closed fist slightly to the right. This makes the dog lean on the right paw more so the left paw can be lifted.
  2. Keep the closed fist close so your dog gets slightly frustrated and paws at the hand. As soon as the paw comes up say “YES!” and give them the treat from your hand.
  3. Repeat
  4. Once your dog is lifting the paw, start sticking your other hand down to catch the paw. One hand is holding the treat slightly to the right and the other hand is catching the paw when it lifts.
  5. As soon as your dog’s paw lands in your hand, say “YES!” and REWARD!

Here is a video of Bam learning to “Shake” for the first time. It is important to teach this skill on both sides to keep muscles strong on both sides of the body. To do this, move your closed fist to the other side so the opposite foot lifts. Your dog may get confused, but don’t stress. Just move your hand more off center and ask again. Say “YES!” when your get the behavior then REWARD!

The Shell Game

“The Shell Game” was a big hit with Bam. Pretty much anything involving snacks is a winner to him. This game engages your dog’s nose which is so powerful they should be able to find any treat hidden beneath a cup. However, we have done so much for our dogs they stop using their nose to the fullest potential and look to us to point it out to them. This one definitely used more of Bam’s brain power than the other games. Let’s begin!

Get some cups. I used cups from a restaurant supply store. I got a whole stack for a couple bucks. I cut a slit in the top of each one to start to help Bam get the idea of the game by allowing the smell to escape easily. We will work our way up to having three cups but start with one to develop the paw strike for the one they pick.

  1. Get a cup and place a piece of food underneath. Hold it down until your dog gets frustrated and paws at the cup. Say, “YES!” and turn over the cup. Do this again and again until your dog is pawing at the one cup easily.
  2. Add a cup. One cup has the treat and the other is empty. Wait for the paw strike and then say “YES!” and give them the treat under the cup. You can mix these cups, but then allow them the time to figure it out. Be patient. When Bam chooses wrong, I let him see that there is no treat there. If he gets stalled out after I have given him time to think, I will tap the cups to help him get back into the game. I want him being rewarded often in the beginning to keep his motivation high. If he doesn’t win a lot in the beginning, he will quit the game. Think two year old toddler here.
  3. As your dog gets better at 2 cups, add the last cup. Now start mixing up the cups and let your dog find and paw strike the correct one. Again, I show the dog any cup he paws at. It may be correct and it may be wrong. Your dog will get better and better and start working harder to choose right because that means more treats. If your dog is not attending to the treats, your treat is not smelly enough. Add either more of the same kind or change the treat to something more aromatic.

Because your pet may be recovering from a surgery it will not be as active and weight gain can happen easily. I would use your dog’s ration of kibble to play these games. You dog will be fed throughout the day instead of in two meals. Also, these games obviously are great for ANY dog! Have fun with it! I really enjoyed spending the extra minutes with Bam just having fun. So much in life is serious, play games with your dog.

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