We all know the struggle of keeping our dogs on the ground. In our own homes alone, keeping them off the sofa or away from the dining table can be a lengthy chore – and just forget about taking them to a friend’s…
Although they’re known for jumping up and down from furniture, and we quietly love it when they settle down next to us for a while, a new study has found that jumping from certain heights could be harmful for dogs.
So how high is too high?
Obviously, we’re not talking building-level height, but a study published in the Vet Record journal has found that jumping from the boot of a 4×4 put four times the force on their legs as taking a normal step.
Whilst the consequences may not be immediate, the long term effects of such force could prove painful and costly. Force like this, if applied consistently, could lead to osteoarthritis, which currently affects around one in five dogs. It also adds unnecessary wear and tear to their joints.
The study used a sample of 15 dogs, setting up platforms of 0.55 metres, 0.65 metres, and 0.75 metres, from which the dogs jumped on to a force plate which recorded the impact on their front legs. They found that the impact increased by 13% in the first increase, and a further 11% in the second.
What Effect Does this have on my dog?
What is surprising, however, is how much of an impact each minimal height difference makes. 10cm or 4inch is a minimal measurement, but can have a potentially serious impact on your dog’s wellbeing. It could be the difference between them jumping from the cushion or the arm of the sofa, for example.
The study suggests that excessive jumping from these heights could lead to musculoskeletal problems, such as elbow or hip dysplasia. These are abnormalities in joints which, through wear and tear, can lead to arthritis, and cause swelling, stiffness and pain.
What should you do to minimise the negative effects of my dog jumping from height?
Speaking of the study, Dr. Willis of the Animal Welfare Research and Knowledge Arena at Hartpury University Centre highlights a particular risk for dogs jumping out of cars, noting:
Whilst the forces observed in this study were similar to those recorded for agility dogs jumping a hurdle fence, dogs that are transported by car have to complete a static start jump with no warm-up like those in agility competitions.
They may have been in the car for long period of time without moving prior to exiting the boot.”
While we’re more careful of our dogs at home, in outdoor environments our ideas of height are often skewed by a variety of factors. It’s therefore important to monitor the heights that dogs are jumping from, and ensure that they’re not in any situations that could compromise their health.
If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to physically lift your dog down, or coax them into gradually stepping down until they reach the ground. You could even install a series of ramps! Whatever you do, the main thing is your dog is kept in good health, and they’re not going to suffer in the future from a series of ill-informed leaps.