Leap Around The Living Room Day
Published by Hayley Hilton

Leap Around The Living Room Day

by | Dogs, News | 0 comments

Not only is February the month of Love but this year we have an extra day to spend with our dog too because it’s Leap Year!

Do you have a dog who leaps on and off furniture as though they are trialling the next level of dog flight to reach the history books alongside the Wright Brothers?

I have witnessed so many breeds leap from their resting place towards the door when the postman knocks or the windows when they spot a bird or a squirrel on the back fence, usually accompanied by a cacophony of barking to go with it.

How DARE this person or creature be in MY garden???

One Patterdale client used to dive into the garden and bounce off the shed at the bottom to get a better run-up at the pigeons flying off… usually when I am trying to provide a relaxing massage atmosphere for his mum’s massage after he has had his!

Yes i have seen this in many small dogs, terriers with a strong prey drive, but have also seen Cocker Spaniel, Alsatian and Greyhound clients leap into action when all was lovely and calm a second before.

The problem occurs when the dog overexerts themselves and over-stretch certain muscles once too often and these antics result in muscular strains. Leaping from a relaxed position means the muscle fibres aren’t ready for “lift-off” and can tear in places… microtears at first that unravel each time… then something goes ping and all of a sudden your dog is limping.

Or your dog may land funny, especially if you have laminate or wooden floors. Or even rugs without a rubber backing causing the dogs to go flying even further. As well as breaking a bone or spraining a cruciate in the most extreme case, it is actually more common to sprain the Superficial Pectorals when the front legs go akimbo or the Gracilis or Pectineus muscle in the groin when the back legs slide apart.

Do you have a dog who is afraid to walk on slippy floors?

This may be because they associate the surface with pain because they have slipped on something similar before.

But because they didn’t make a fuss at the time, you don’t think this was to blame because they had always walked on that surface or continue to jump on or off furniture at full pelt so they must be making it up and wanting attention when they limp, right?


You see, when your dog is excited, (or has a full stress-bucket in behavioural terms) then it doesn’t hurt in-the-moment. This is because the endorphins (or excitement chemicals) have a pain reducing effect and so you will only see the after-effects when they have calmed and the pain kicks back in again… or sometimes worse!

So it is imperative that you watch out for any signs of pain during these times, and not when they are excited. Because let’s face it… leaping off something excitedly is always more fun than sitting in pain, isn’t it?

What if my Vet says nothing is wrong?

In my vet-talks these past few years, i have often been told that their training consisted of very little to do with muscles, probably a lecture or two at most. Therefore, no “origin and insertion points” to memorise or studying “cross-bridge theory” like we did on our Clinical Canine Massage Course.

Often the Vet will go through their own protocols of scans and anti-inflammatory medication first and then surgery. Because that is what they were taught to do when limbs are involved. (HINT: if the anti-inflammatories have no effect on the limp/lameness then the issue could very well be muscular!)  And it’s only after these fail to work that they look into other methods of treatment.

Over the past few years, however, many therapists have had great stories of their work where Canine Massage can prevent the need for further medication or even surgery (one Canine Massage Guild therapist was able to get her dog back to their normal sporting activities within 6 months of massage and no surgery required on the partial cruciate tear they were diagnosed with!). 

So if something DOES happen with your dog and they aren’t responding to treatment, why not mention Canine Massage to your Vet as part of your dog’s pain management plan? Or introduce them to me so that i can chat to them too?

Hands On Heart Recommendations:

  1. #MoreRugsLessDrugs was a quote coined by the Canine Arthritis Management Vets. Make sure any areas of floor where your dog is most active,  i.e. leaping up for food, leaping on and off furniture or windows is covered by a rubber-backed mat. This means that they minimise slipping and you do when you step on them too! I do treat humans with my massage too but i’d rather neither of you were in pain in the first place 🙂
  2. Steps or ramps are great ideas for minimising the height of the “leap” and can work well with those dogs who need a lift up or down. However, in my experience if adrenaline is surging, the over-excited dog tends to ignore them and jump over them anyway. I have seen them work when the dog is not diving towards a squirrel and if you are willing to put lots of practice in then i can give a few hints and tips from when i trained my Hilton Hotel For Dogs guests to use the ramp outside the back door (#FacePalm and hilarity ensued).
  3. Consider talking to a Dog Behaviourist to reduce the reactive jumping. There are many trainers and behaviourists cropping up in recent years, but make sure you see their credentials and DON’T just go for the loudest in your area. i have witnessed a few “trainers” stooping to some shady lows that are no good for the dog OR the owner! (If they say they can cure your dog in minutes then they are not willing to put the time in to understanding the root cause of the behaviour and most likely making them react to fear to get the results… which WILL make them worse). PLEASE do your research!

…And then obviously you can talk to me, i offer Online Hands-Off assessments if you live nowhere near me but still want to chat. I can guide you through what you are seeing, discuss some injury prevention techniques PLUS show you some simple massage techniques to help improve blood flow and recovery… and then signpost you to your local therapist if needed.

I may work with Dogs but I don’t Bite 🙂


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