There is nothing more exciting than getting your dog into their wheelchair for the first time. Seeing your dog walking or running again is incredible. Here are some helpful tips to keep your dog safely rolling along in their wheelchair for years to come!
Supervision is key. And this is especially important for dogs who are new to their wheels! Your dog’s wheelchair is designed to help them get the exercise they need, and when they tire, they need your help getting out in order to lay down. Gating off areas of the house that aren’t safe to avoid mishaps is a great option, but nothing beats you being there for your dog. So, keep a close eye on them to keep them safe.
When using their wheelchair, your dog may not be aware that they are a little bit wider. Getting used to the space around them is going to take time. Turning around a corner inside is tricky - even experienced wheelchair pups get their wheels hung up once in a while.
The first time your dog tries out their wheelchair, bring them outside! They will have a lot more space, freeing them to move around comfortably without worrying about knocking anything over. This will help them adjust to the feel of their wheelchair and let them get comfortable moving around.
CREATE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
Getting your dog back on their feet should be a fun experience for everyone! Make sure your dog associates their wheelchair with a fun, positive experience. Find out what motivates your dog. If your dog is food motivated, use their favorite treat for encouragement. Reward them for taking their first steps and for going potty in their wheelchair. Always give the treat at nose level so your pet doesn’t have to bend over to pick it up. Another great motivator is praise!
STAY AWAY FROM STAIRS
Going up or down stairs in a wheelchair is a big no-no! If your dog needs help getting up or down stairs, there are lifting harnesses made especially for that purpose. You may be able to help your dog navigate a step or two, but for anything more than that, err on the side of caution.
CHECK THE FIT
Always check to make sure that your dog’s harness and wheelchair are adjusted correctly. Just like us, your dog’s body can change over time. They may lose muscle mass or weight, or even experience thinning hair. All of these can impact how their harness fits.
A loose harness or leg rings may mean your dog isn’t getting the support they need. And a harness that’s too tight may cause rubbing. Next time you put your dog in their wheelchair, double check to make sure everything still looks comfy. Not sure? Ask an expert! Send us a photo of your dog in their wheelchair, and our wheelchair experts will let you know how it looks!
GIVE IT TIME
Watching your dog take their first steps in their new wheelchair is exciting! Often this is the first time in a long time your dog has been able to move on their own and they are just as excited as you are. Make sure not to overdo it. If your dog hasn’t walked on their own in a while, it’s going to take time to build up their endurance again. Even if your dog is running around and shows no signs of tiring, don’t let them play for too long! Let them slowly build up their strength. Hold off on that long walk until they have a chance to get used to walking around again.
Many dogs get into their wheelchairs and take off. Dogs that have been down due to paralyzed back legs or weak hind ends are excited that with the help of their wheels they can get around again. Other dogs are going to take a bit of time to understand how their wheelchair works.
If your dog tends toward anxiousness, be patient and understand that your dog may need a little bit of time to adjust. Go slowly. Set the wheelchair up in the same room as them, let them get used to it being around, and praise them when they go over to investigate it. Take baby steps and let them get used to wearing the harness first. Slowly work your way up to the wheelchair.
TUNE UP YOUR WHEELCHAIR
Just like your car, sometimes your dog’s wheelchair will need a tune up. Make wheelchair maintenance part of your annual routine. Once or twice a year look over your dog’s wheelchair and make sure it’s in tip-top shape. Check the tires, as an active dog may wear down the tread over time. You can rotate them or even replace them! Bolts and harnesses may loosen or stretch from use. Keeping your wheelchair in perfect shape will keep your dog moving! And an active dog is a happy dog
Wheelchair Tips & Tricks
As faithful family members that give us unconditional love, dogs deserve to be loved, cherished and respected, regardless of any disabilities they might be dealing with. If your canine best friend is dealing with mobility issues, a wheelchair gives them the ability to thrive.
Getting a dog used to a wheelchair is usually easy — it takes moments for a dog to realize they can run again. Sometimes, though, there is an adjustment period.
Dog wheelchairs give them the mobility they need to live active, healthy, and happy lives. The dog uses their front legs to move about, play and explore. The back legs lightly touch the ground or can be safely held up by stirrups. They can even go to the bathroom in a wheelchair.
ADJUSTING TO THE WHEELCHAIR
Most dogs enjoy the freedom that a wheelchair provides, so it normally takes just a few minutes for them to adjust to it. Sometimes it can take longer, and in these cases training might be needed to help the dog adjust. In some cases, the personality or age of the dog can end up causing them to be leery of the wheelchair. Some dogs are put off by the sounds the wheelchair makes, or troubled if it gets hung up on furniture. Most adapt to the wheelchair eventually but some just need extra TLC to get through the process. The best results come from an owner who is patient, reassuring, and calm.
Sometimes a dog may be having trouble getting used to the wheelchair because it is uncomfortable. Usually, a few simple adjustments is all it takes for a more comfortable fit. This is the reason why it’s important to have a fully adjustable wheelchair. The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is the only wheelchair that adjusts easily in length, width, height, and wheel angle.
When starting the training process we suggest that you use your dog’s favorite treats to reward your dog for walking forward. It’s a good idea to work with your dog while they’re hungry. They’ll be more eager to pay attention if it means getting a treat as a reward. Following are some tips that can help get your dog ready for a wheelchair. Work with them in short sessions (5 to 10 minutes), several times a day, giving your dog rest periods between sessions.
If your dog isn’t food motivated, find out what does motivate them. A favorite toy or even encouragement from their favorite person may be all they need.
SNAP THE WHEELCHAIR TOGETHER
Snap the wheels into the frame and leave it out in the open, letting your dog smell it, touch it and get used to it. Keep the assembled wheelchair in a place your dog feels safe and comfortable. By keeping the wheelchair somewhere easily accessible to your dog, it will allow them to get comfortable with it on their terms.
PUT ON THE HARNESS
Once your dog feels at ease around the wheelchair, put the front harness on them – this may take them a bit to get used to. If your dog is timid or shy, give them time and move at their pace. Let them adjust to the feel of the harness and the sounds it makes when you click it into place. Harness fit is important! Make sure the harness is adjusted correctly - a well fitting harness will be more comfortable and put your dog at ease!
ADD THE REST OF THE WHEELCHAIR PARTS
Once your dog seems comfortable with the harness, attempt to put them into the wheelchair. Comfort your dog as you do so and offer treats as a positive connection. Hold the treats at their nose level. Give them several, then move away a bit, holding the treat reward out in front of you. In most cases, your dog will start to walk toward the treat. Encourage your dog with positive praise. Most dogs pick up on their owner’s cues. If you have a positive attitude and are excited for them at every stage, your dog will get excited too!
Many veterinarians in the US and around the world are actively recommending and using dog wheelchairs for their patients. They can be used to help recovery from surgery, get exercise and build muscle mass. They can also be used for long-term, extended use. Once your dog gets used to their wheelchair, it becomes a part of their happy, healthy life.
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