The Dachshund, meaning “Badger Dog" in German, is a small breed with a distinctive appearance. His long back and short legs give rise to several nicknames, including “sausage dog.” Although charming to look at, the short legs and long back leave the Dachshund prone to chronic back problems. You can reduce the chances of your dog experiencing back problems by making a few basic alterations to his lifestyle and environment.
Around the House
Block your dog's access to stairs and steps. Use boxes or child safety gates, for example. Climbing stairs puts strain on both the rear and front legs. While most dogs can handle this easily, the physiology of the dachshund causes stair-climbing to put extra strain on the spine, which can aggravate intervertebral disc disease. If your garden has steps, ensure that your dog can’t climb them. Either block them off, put a ramp over them or supervise your dog in the garden. The approach you take depends on the lifestyle and amount of freedom you want for your dog.
Discourage jumping off of furniture. Train your dog not to do this by distracting him before he does it. Reward him when he focuses attention on you, verbally correct him if he ignores you and jumps. If your dog looks as if he is about to jump, pick him up and place him gently on the floor. An awkward landing could be very painful and if repetitive, can lead to chronic back problems.
Cover polished or slippery floor surfaces with rugs. This helps your dog comfortably walk around the house. If your dog is forced to walk on a slippery surface, he’ll find it difficult to gain traction. Slips and tumbles can cause back injury.
Monitor your dog’s mobility. If you notice a change in gait, discomfort when getting up or lying down, an inability to turn the neck or reluctance to run, your dog could be displaying early symptoms of chronic back problems, such as intervertebral disc disease. Take your dog to the vet immediately for a check up.
Crate train your dachshund so that you will have control over his movements when you are not home. Place a healthy food treat inside the crate. Leave the door open and encourage the dog to explore. If he enters the crate, issue verbal praise. The crate should always be accompanied by positive stimuli. Let him exit the crate as he pleases. Repeat this process once a day for approximately three days, or however long it takes for the dog to become accustomed to and comfortable with the crate.
Encourage the dog into the crate and close the door. Sit next to the crate for approximately five minutes.
Let the dog out, issue a healthy food treat and verbal praise. Repeat this process for approximately five days, or as long as it takes for the dog to get used to confinement.
Encourage the dog into the crate, close the door and leave the dog alone for ten minutes. Don't return if he whines as this teaches him that whining elicits attention. Repeat this process for as long as it takes for the dog to become used to being in the crate. Crate your dog when you are unable to monitor his movements.
Weight Management for Overweight Dogs
Feel your dog's flanks. If you can't feel the ribs, the dog is overweight. If unsure, consult your vet.
Reduce your dog's portion sizes and cut out any treats. This enables you to more accurately monitor his calorie intake. Read the packaging of the food tin, this contains advice on how much to give. Obesity puts extra strain on your dog's spine and can cause intervertebral disc disease.
Monitor your dog's weight once a week. If your dog sheds a lot of weight very quickly and lacks energy, increase portion size.
If you are unsure of how much to feed your dog or how to safely manage his weight, consult your vet.
Items You Will Need
- Boxes, ramp, child safety gates or any objects that can restrict access to stairs
- dachshund image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com