Nothing is more exciting than getting your dog into its wheelchair for the first time. Seeing your dog walking or running again is incredible. Dog wheelchairs are incredibly safe for pets to use, but there are a few easy-to-follow guidelines you should be aware of.
Here are some helpful tips to keep your dog safely rolling along in their Walkin’ Wheels for years to come!
8 Dog Wheelchair Safety Tips
Supervision is key. And this is especially important for dogs who are new to their wheels! Your dog’s Walkin’ Wheels 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 you bring them outside the first time your dog tries out their Walkin’ Wheels they will need 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 the stairs in a wheelchair is a big no-no! If your dog needs help getting up or down the stairs there are specially made lifting harnesses for just that purpose. You may be able to help your dog navigate a step or two, but anything more than that air on the side of caution. Wait until you’re at the bottom of the stairs
Check the Wheelchair 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, 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 Walkin’ Wheels, take a second and 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. Your dog hasn’t walked on their own in a while, and 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 Walkin’ Wheels and take off. Dogs that have been down due to paralyzed back legs or weak hind end 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 needs 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, an active dog may wear down the tread in their tires 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!
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I have a 12 year old German Shepherd that is 89 pounds. He has DM for over a year now. He can’t use his left rear leg at all and has a lot of atrophy from not being able to use it. He can some what can use his other rear leg but not much. He can stand up from time to time but he can’t stand long or walk on his own. He never seems to be comfortable because at night when he sleeps, he toss and turns and he pants most of the night. He needs assistance from me and my wife to assist him with going poo or pee, and when eats his meals. We have tried medicine, acupuncture, laser treatments, PT, and none of them have helped him. We got him a wheelchair hoping that it would’ve worked for him but he doesn’t like his rear feet being in the hanger straps and doesn’t seem to like the wheelchair. Also, the chair rings from the wheel chair rub on his rear legs on the inside of his legs which. We put a pad or a towel to prevent his legs from rubbing but he doesn’t seem to like his chair.
My wife and I love our dog and we are out of options ….. Is it time to put him down?
If you haven’t already, I would recommend speaking with one our Wheelchair Specialists 888-253-0777, it’s possible your German Shepherd’s wheelchair fitting may need some minor adjustments to make him more comfortable. Their are alternatives to the stirrups, we offer the Walkin’ Boot & Stirrup Kit which allows dogs to alternate between walking on their back legs and lifting them off the ground when they want to. Don’t give up yet, some minor tweaks to the wheelchair may be all it takes to get your dog up and rolling on his own!