Few things have the capacity to be a greater shock to the system than suddenly having to learn how to live with a wheelchair. That’s true of humans as well as dogs. We get so used to living and experiencing life one way that suddenly being forced to do so in a completely different fashion can be a tremendous shock indeed. That’s especially true when the impetus for that dramatic shift comes as the result of a physical malady such as an injury or chronic condition.
You understand that your dog needs to learn how to use their new wheelchair to go about their daily life. However, they don’t yet understand that. To them, this is just a strange and possibly scary transition. Dogs are creatures of habit, and this is one massive deviation from the daily routine they’ve spent years developing and learning to love.
- Maintain a Positive Demeanor Yourself
Dogs live to be part of a family unit – that’s why they’re so loyal to and trusting of you as the head of the “pack.” If you have a negative attitude towards the dog wheelchair, your dog will certainly pick up on it. This is already something which is strange to them, and they will be naturally wary of it.
That’s why it is extremely important that you make sure to maintain a positive demeanor when introducing your dog to the dog wheelchair. Smile, use a friendly voice, and do whatever you can to help assuage your dog’s initial wariness toward this strange object.
- Let Your Dog Smell, Touch, and Lick it
One of the biggest ways you can help your dog come to terms with this new strange object is to allow them to smell, touch, and lick it. Your dog experiences the world first and foremost through these senses. One of the fastest ways to convey a sense of safety about a given item is to put these senses at ease. Let them see that the item is not “foul” or something that should put them off.
If they do have a negative sensory reaction to the dog wheelchair, try and correct it as quickly as possible.
- Treats Always Help
According to pet mobility specialists K9 Carts, one of the best ways to wheel-train your dog is to employ treats. Dogs love treats, and so they’re often a go-to strategy for conditioning dogs to “like” or “do” certain things. Rewarding your dog for putting up with a dog wheelchair by giving them treats for being still so you can attach it and by walking around in it can help send the right impression.
- Let Them Adjust Slowly
A wheelchair would be a massive adjustment for a human being to take on in the middle of their lives. Why would it be any different for a dog?
Your dog is not going to adjust to their wheelchair overnight. It is going to take some time and patience on both of your parts. Temper your expectations accordingly, and make sure that your dog makes slow, steady, positive progress toward being able to experience life a better way with their new wheelchair. Remember, it isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.
- Play with Them
If there’s one thing that can help reinforce your dog’s idea that this newfangled wheelchair thing is good, it’s positive attention and playtime. When your dog is disabled, they likely can’t play very much and are bound to be down about that.
Playing with your dog can show them just what an improvement this new contraption will make in their lives, to say nothing of the boost they’ll get from being able to play with their best friend again. Playing soccer with your dog can be really fun for instance!
These methods can help your dog’s introduction to their new wheelchair proceed as smoothly and quickly as possible.