Vet Staff Dog-Handling Skills: Has Your Dog’s Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes?

Has your dog’s physical therapist taken dog training classes? Or, even more importantly, should they?

If your dog is going for physical therapy and you’d have to guess, would you figure they did?

Vet Staff Dog-Handling Skills: Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes?

In hubby’s field, there is mandatory education for truck drivers in Ontario. Mandatory classes come at a stiff price. Should that become a thing? Here is another question. Does it matter how you know to do something as long as you know? You might go through rigorous training and still suck at it. On the other hand, you might just wake up one morning, have an apple fall on your head, and become brilliant. Who really cares which?

Both hubby and I believe that testing is where you learn what a person is made of. Put together a good test, make that mandatory, and leave education optional.

But back to physical therapists.

What do you look for in your dog’s physical therapist?

Vet Staff Dog-Handling Skills: Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes?

Of course, you want them to be great at and have thorough knowledge and understanding of the workings of your dog’s body and how to restore it to proper function. You want them to know their way around animals for your dog to trust them, and feel comfortable around them.

What about being able to get your dog do things?

Much of physical therapy includes massage, manipulating of your dog’s body (such as stretching or mobilization), laser therapy, and sometimes underwater treadmill. If you have a great PT place and your dog is progressing well, strength and balance exercises will follow.

Your dog’s physical therapist will need your dog to do things for them.

And that’s what inspired this article.

Since last fall, Cookie has gone through all kinds of treatments and therapy and incidentally at a number of different places and with a bunch of different people. They are all wonderful people with a great love for animals. But there are differences in how Cookie responds to them.

Same dog, same scenario. Different results.

I found that intriguing which is what prompted my question. Has your dog’s physical therapist taken dog training classes? And should they have?

Some of them perhaps should.

In case you’re wondering, the one that Cookie loves the most and is willing to do about anything for, did not take any classes beyond the basics. And I didn’t think she did; I just asked her to confirm. She is a natural. Whether she has it in her blood or whether it’s a result of experience, she is amazing. I bet she could get Cookie to stand on her [Cookie’s] head for her.

When a different tech tried getting Cookie on a balance board, it was not going to happen. It didn’t happen until I was there to convince Cookie it was something that was important to us she’d do.

Vet Staff Dog-Handling Skills: Cookie has no interest in balance exercises

What makes the difference?

To my observation, this girl seemed to have a  strong preconceived notion of what a dog should just do. As if Cookie ought to understand this is for her own good.

I noticed even when the tech asked Cookie to sit, she made the request rather sternly. No praise followed, just a bit of food. Lots of expectation, very little pay off.

What dog in their right mind would go standing on a wobbly platform if there is perfectly steady ground all around it?

For that, they need some motivation. Being expected to do something is not motivation enough.

When Cookie’s main physical therapist up here wants her to do things, she encourages, coaxes and praises lavishly when Cookie complies.

Another obvious difference between the two is that the main PT uses a support vest type of thing on Cookie so she can keep her safe when Cookie is climbing the discs and peanuts and boards. The other tech uses a slip collar for control.

Vet Staff Dog-Handling Skills: Cookie happy to oblige

The main PT controls Cookie through motivation.

Quite a difference, wouldn’t you think? Cookie surely does. You could see what the benefit of taking some classes might be.

Even when Cookie is just getting laser therapy and massage, you can see differences. With some, she just relaxes and is pliable in their hands. With others, she will not get relaxed. That, I think, has to do with how calm [and calming] their inner energy is. Not sure whether one can do much about that easily.

They all love Cookie and she loves them. The difference is in what they can achieve.

Related articles:
Physical Therapy: All Hands On … Dog!

Further reading:
Compassionate Vet Care: Handling Pets in a Pet-Friendly Manner

Categories: Alternative treatmentsDog health advocacyPhysical therapyWorking with Veterinarians

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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