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Ideas to help protect Dachshunds' backs

Modifying our homes to reduce jumping, no more stairs, and training them NOT to fly

We can all take actions which may help prevent or prolong the next disc episode by reducing the stress on the discs in between the vetertebrae of the spine. Some ways of doing that are to limit jumping, and avoid stairs, and training them NOT to fly. Both jumping up or jumping down should be avoided.

Each time a dog jumps up on the bed, jumps for the ball, or jumps into the back of the SUV, the spine is flexed and then acutely extended, putting increased forces at the low cervical, mid-thoracic, and especially lower lumbar spine. These recurring stresses can result in chronic fatigue and microscopic damage to the IVD. Scot Swainson, DVM, ACVS Surgeon Colorado Canine Orthopedics

Kiddy/Doggy Gates: Block off places we don’t want our doxies to go, like staircases, by putting up a kiddy or doggy gate at the top and bottom to deny them access. 

Furniture:  Ramps are preferred over stairs and the best option we can use for furniture and beds.The ramps with rails are best in order to prevent our darlings from taking the most direct route to their destination by jumping off the side of the ramp. Depending on your dachshund’s character and previous habits, you may find that the only workable solution is to block off your furniture altogether with cushions or decorative pillows. Then, when you’re sitting with them, you can better control their descent either by a ramp or by putting them down yourself.  Ramp training article & video

And you can make your own ramps too. Here are some sites with instructions:


Indoor and Outdoor Ramps: If you have a sunken living room, you might consider installing ramps from the living room up to the other areas of the house. To make them more attractive, you can cover them with the same carpet that you installed on the floor or a nice complementary color.

Many of our homes have steps from the house to the backyard and ramps are, once again, ideal. You aren’t a carpenter or don’t have one in the family? Don’t worry; there are many different types and styles of ramps available in pet stores and on the internet.

Teaching your dog:

Ramp Training for the IVDD Community  http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/ramptrain.htm

No sitting up or standing on back legs. Teach your dog to sit down rather than jump  http://youtu.be/tok3hgrOyAk

Keep all four feet on the ground http://youtu.be/XX58DLLLZF8

Best place for our dachshunds – the floor: How do you feel about sitting on the floor? On the floor, you don’t have to worry about the doorbell, doorbell on the TV, the passing UPS truck, the bird that flew by, or the squirrel they saw through the window that will cause them to leap or fly from any height to rush to the threat or prey. So, the best place for our fur kids is on the floor. And believe it or not, the floor can actually be a comfy, cozy place. Take as many egg-crate mattress toppers as you think will be comfy (3 work well) or a 4-inch memory foam mattress topper and cover it with a quilt, comforter, or blanket. Throw lots of pillows and blankets on top and, voila, you’ve created a comfy, cozy, human/doxie den. (When the weather turns cold, light a fire in the fireplace, get yourself a big mug of hot cocoa with extra chocolate shaved on top, and indulge yourself in a wonderful winter’s eve highlighted by dachshund snuggling.)


Their Own Special Place On the Floor: Providing them with their own special place on the floor by your couch or chair can help them feel cozy and happy too. Get them a super cushy bed and pile in some of their favorite blankets. Then when you’re sitting on the couch or in your chair, tell them to get into their bed and then give them a special treat that is a good and enjoyable chew; and, only give them that special treat when they are in their bed next to you. If they try to hop up with you, tell them “No.” They’ll learn that their special place is truly a wonderful place to be-the place where they get that special treat too.


Creating No-Fly Zones: Does your dachshund launch into flight off the sofa, a chair, or a retaining wall in your yard? To save our own mental and physical health and our dogs’ backs, let’s look at what we can do to try and convince them they SHOULDN’T fly.


• Clicker Training: The first, and probably best, option is to train our dogs not to jump into flight. Training should center on getting them to perform/behave in a desired way followed immediately by the prized reward of a treat. One type of training that uses positive reinforcement with treats is called Clicker Training. The concept is pretty simple. You use a hand held clicker which tells your dog the exact moment they’re doing the right thing and that a reward is coming right away. Then, you immediately follow up the click with a coveted treat. You give a treat immediately following every click. Soon, after repeating the desired behavior/click/treat routine, the dog learns that good things follow desired behavior.

To apply that to our doxies, let’s take an example of teaching them to use a ramp. You’d encourage your dog to go up the ramp. Once he/she starts heading up the ramp, you click, immediately give a small treat that you had hidden somewhere (behind your back or in a pocket, etc). Once you’ve done that a few times, wait to click and give the treat until they get all the way to the top of the ramp. Then click and give treat. And of course, you’d do the exact opposite on training them to go down the ramp. If they attempt to jump off the side – no treat. Put them back at the top and start over. They’ll get the idea that jumping off the side doesn’t get them a treat and we know they WANT that treat!


• Block Off Furniture: Other ways to try to convince our doxies they shouldn’t fly is to simply block their access to the furniture. You can do that by placing decorative, stylish pillows in chairs or on top of couches to restrict their ability to jump up there. If they can’t jump up there, they can’t FLY off. Then when you’re there to better control their access via a ramp, you simply remove the pillows. They, then, use the ramp to go up and down with you there to help ensure they do.

Furniture blockers are yet another idea: lightweight and a no sew project. How to make.

You can learn more about clicker training by simply doing an internet search on Canine Clicker Training. Here’s a link to one site:

You’ll find what works best for you and your home by experimenting and trying different things. Implementing these changes in your home when your dachshund is still a puppy is certainly easier; but, even if you’re in the IVDD-recovery mode, it’s never too late to start. Granted, some of the these home modifications will not qualify you for the cover of a stylish home-décor magazine; but, they will have a positive effect on the long-term health of your loyal and loving companion.

This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the Dachshund community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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