What a first rate picture, and no wonder Marley enjoyed his swim with so much attention! Very cool! Yes, my dog always "drinks the pool", too. I bring her home from PT about 9 am and at 11 am we have a big express!
I went back and found an old message I posted March 21, 2006, because I was trying to remember how long my dog went to PT before she started moving her feet on the treadmill. Here it is:
Just because they walk or swim with their front feet doesn't mean they will automatically move their back feet too. My dog didn't. We put her in the exercise tank and she moved her front feet but not her rear. The therapist got into the tank much as you see here and took hold of her ankles and made her back feet move. The back feet didn't even move in time with the front feet, they just moved. She did this for about 8 swim sessions and then one day, lo and behold, my dog started moving her back feet! You should have heard the cheers of celebration that day! And once they start doing that, as far as I know they never stop. It's back to stay. When you hold the dog's ankles and "walk them" through the motions, it's like priming a pump. You may have to pour a glass of water down that old pump a number of times before you see results, but once it's primed it works. (Sorry if you have no experience with hand pumps.)
I remember the first session they just put my dog in for 5 minutes, next session 10, next session 15, working up because she didn't like water. During one session I don't know if it was too high or what, but she was actually kind of panicking, and we had to stop the treadmill and take her out and comfort her and let her settle down. But it got to where she loved
PT (still does) and will squeal driving into the parking lot. Actually, sometimes she squeals when we turn onto the street going to PT, she's just excited.
I remember I was concerned during the first sessions because the therapist did like your therapist is doing, and got in the treadmill with my dog and held her hind legs and moved them in stepping motions. The problem was, she was little so it was nearly impossible for the therapist to move her feet the right speed to match all the little steps her front feet were taking. It turned out that didn't matter, it was just the fact that they were moving that did the trick. It did take a while for her to suddenly begin moving her feet by herself, but I was ecstatic when she did. After that, it took a long time for her to be able to walk on the treadmill without crossing her ankles and tripping herself, but that was something that came in time, too. And in the meantime, all that exercise was good for her physically and mentally.
I know different clinics seem to do it differently, but my dog had 4 weeks of crate rest after her surgery, with only passive range of motion exercise and no weight bearing. It seems like it might be kind of early to be doing 20 minutes on the treadmill (?) but if the surgeon recommended it then I guess it is his call. I have heard of cases where they start PT while the stitches are still in. I guess if the water level is high, he is not bearing much weight. Just my
I think I'd want to be careful he does not overdo it right now. Consistent physical therapy over time is the key, being in it for the long haul.
I read what you were discussing about whether he will now begin to feel his other aches and pains more. I don't know...and the only answer I have isn't scientific, but I would say that I've never heard anyone report that happening, but again I don't know. I see what you mean. I would think that doing PT in warm water would be good for his joints, and now that you know he has some age-related joint issues, perhaps your vet can put him on a joint supplement. My dog has a "dry socket" hip (I think that means lack of cartilage and grinding) and he is on Pro-Motion, which is one of the glucosamine supplements. They sell it in flavor tabs my dog considers a treat.