Dogs: Spinal walking

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Jerry

Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by Jerry » Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:35 pm

Does anyone know how I can teach my dog to hold her own weight while her legs are "walking" themselves. She seems to be trying to "spinal walk" but cant hold her own weight and balance while doing it. She can almost do all these things well seperately its just putting it all together she cant do. Is there any way I can help her or will she figure it out herself??

J

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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking *LINK*

Post by Murphy's Dad » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:35 am

To walk, your dog first needs strength. If possible, get her swimming. Find a pet therapist, pool or horse training facility that allows the swimming of dogs. That will build up her strength, endurance and help with coordination. Also get her a cart. Contact Doggon Wheels, Eddies Wheels, or Deweys Wheels. I prefer Doggon. I comes with an adjustable saddle that can be lowered as you girl gains strength and coordination. PawTectors (booties) will keep her from scraping up her paws.



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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking *LINK*

Post by Tinker's Mom » Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:04 am

It isn't just a matter of your dog figuring out how to bear her weight and learn to balance- she hasn't got the "tools" to do it just yet.

As Murphy's Dad said, your dog needs to re-build the strength in her muscles first. And, until she is actually up and moving I don't think that anyone can really predict what the outcome will be in terms of the actual walking motion. Tinker does a combination of regular and spinal walking. Some dogs do one or the other. I guess it just depends on the individual structure of the dog and the extent of the injury.

In our case, we went to a rehab facility for hydrotherapy in an underwater treadmill. The idea is that doing weight-bearing exercise with the dog supported by the buoyancy of the water helps to develop coordination and strengthen muscles. As Tinker got stronger, we lowered the water level for greater resistence and increased the speed of the treadmill to work on endurance. Our experience has been that it worked very well. We also used acupuncture and a cart (Eddie's Wheels).

I don't know where you're located but I would recommend checking out the list of rehab facilities and getting started with some type of water exercise program.



Tinker - Underwater Treadmill video

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can someone pls explain to me what this is

Post by Bendy Kitty » Tue Mar 21, 2006 1:08 pm

i have tried and tried to find a page that explains it, i emailed our neuropsych friend and he didn't know what it was.
but i see it posted about all the time! so can someone pls explain to me just what spinal walking is?

thank you

bendy

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Updated link

Post by CarolC » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:09 pm

Looks like the links I provided in previous messages to explain this are now broken. Don't you hate it when that happens? Here is an archived copy of the webpage.

Spinal walking

Second paragraph from the end, starting "Occasionally".

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Spinal Walking explained

Post by Tinker's Mom » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:43 pm

The reason you have had difficulty finding an explanation of spinal walking is that there simply isn't much written on it anywhere on the internet. You can find pieces of disjointed, out-of-context phrases from human and veterinary spinal research, but I looked and could find no thorough, clear explanation. The only one that I've seen repeatedly is the Dachshund Club of America link that CarolC cited, and even that isn't really exactly what you're looking for. My hunch is that you would need to go to the (online?) library of a veterinary research university- like Purdue or U of Tenn where they certify Rehab Vets and Techs- to get more solid information.

What I can tell you is my first person observation of my dog spinal walking. It is a spastic, motorized-looking movement of the back limbs of neurologically impaired dogs (and other animals) that propels them forward with an odd but effective gait. In crude layman's terms, the neurological signal bypasses the brain and it is a reflexive motion not dependent on the (damaged) neurological pathways to complete the process. From what I understand, this is an oversimplified explanation, but it conveys a rough idea of what occurs. ***Someone please correct me if that sounds way off base to you.***

In the video I posted earlier in this thread, you can see the herky-jerky movement of Tinker's legs and the exaggerated stride. Particularly when you watch from behind him, his legs appear to flail in multiple directions at once. It is far from the smooth, even stride you would see with a normal gait.

I hope that helps.

Jerry

Re: Updated link

Post by Jerry » Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:07 pm

She has got a cart, she has had it for about 6 months and we lowered it and she turns her feet up the right way and holds herself "out" of the cart while eating mostly. She is terrified of water (we brought a small swimming pool) but she panicked too much and I was afraid of doing more damage than good. In saying that though she will walk into the river or ocean most of the time. I live in New Zealand and there is NOTHING like rehab for pets here. I have searched since day one and have come to the conclusion that I will have to do it all myself. I found one accupuncturist who has since retired and said it would be a waste of her time working on her as her Deep pain had been gone for so long. I ordered her some "Walk-a-boots" and they just came today but was intending on using these for her front feet as she tends to slip on smooth floors (like at the vets office).

I dont know what it is but lately we have found that she has built up alot of muscle in her rear legs, we were comparing photos from a couple of months after the accident to what she looks like now. I don't know what has built the muscle back up but my partner is always walking her around the house by holding onto her "hips" and he will take her anywhere she wants to go, alot of the time they just stand there looking around, all the while she holds her own weight while he makes sure she does not tip sideways. So she is bearing her own weight alot of the time.

We have noticed that when in the water (at the beach) her legs sometimes do a twitching thing but dont move like her front legs.

I don't know what Else I can do, i know I seem to have an excuse for everything but honestly we have spent so much time and money trying to make her life easier and I have done extensive research when it comes to things like these, I must just be looking in the wrong places.

J

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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by connie » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:55 pm

hi, my dog cricket spinal walks, or runs. he just picked it up hisself. i do therapy on him 3 times a day like vet said. move his legs like he is walking. ask your vet how to help your pet. but mostly they do it on their own. cricekt stands and eats and supports his weight on back legs now. hope it works out. god bless.

Jerry

Re: Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by Jerry » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:07 pm

Hi

I find it hard to talk to my vet as he still thinks we made the wrong decision in keeping Luna alive. That is why I have had so much trouble trying to rehabilitate her by myself. His attitude towards her has changed and he seems to have little or no compassion towards her and she picks up on it which makes vet visits upsetting for her. Shes fine in the clinic she loves the smells etc but when she sees him she has no desire whatsoever to co-operate with him. She is such a "People" dog but I think she feels his reluctance. The last time we were there I asked him to test her deep pain and he did but just said nothing. So whether or not that means its there i don't know. I am taking her back to Massey where she had her surgery (they absolutely love her there!!) so they will be able to give me some advice. They are located 1 1/2 hours away so cant use them as my primary vet as they are a specialist hospital. I just dont think New Zealand is cut out for the love and dedication towards "handicapped" pets as you guys are.

THanks for your help!
J

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My guess -- you are really very tired

Post by CarolC » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:32 pm

There was an insightful message posted by Anita that you could call The Six Month Wonder. You're past 6 months. It hits some of us earlier and some of us later. I think it hit me at about 5 months. You may be able to relate to this:

<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... 8">Anita's message</a>

>>She has got a cart, she has had it for about 6 months and we lowered it and she turns her feet up the right way and holds herself "out" of the cart while eating mostly.

Well, heck! You say that like it's not MAGNIFICENT! You've got a dog that can stand and bear weight. You're never going to have to worry about bedsores. It is still a struggle for my dog to stand and eat. It was over a year before she drank water out of a bowl standing up for the first time. What a feeling of satisfaction and normalcy your dog must have to be able to do that. That is great!

>>She is terrified of water (we brought a small swimming pool) but she panicked too much and I was afraid of doing more damage than good. In saying that though she will walk into the river or ocean most of the time.

Well, join the crowd. I have a small dog so you'd think I had the perfect opportunity to do hydrotherapy in the bathtub. Actually she was a little too tall for the tub, but the real problem was, when I put her in she only wanted out in the worst way! Poor thing, she was terrified. There was no way that was going to work. I even had a life vest for her, but she was a total panic, forget it. I think it was seeing the high sides and knowing she couldn't get out.

> I live in New Zealand and there is NOTHING like rehab for pets here. I have searched since day one and have come to the conclusion that I will have to do it all myself.

Well, between you and your partner, you *are* doing it.

>>I dont know what it is but lately we have found that she has built up alot of muscle in her rear legs, we were comparing photos from a couple of months after the accident to what she looks like now. I don't know what has built the muscle back up but my partner is always walking her around the house by holding onto her "hips" and he will take her anywhere she wants to go, alot of the time they just stand there looking around, all the while she holds her own weight while he makes sure she does not tip sideways. So she is bearing her own weight alot of the time.

I'd say your dear old partner deserves a very nice long backrub--good for him, good for him, good for him!

Did you read Sheri's trick with Pete? He got to about the place Luna is, where he could stand and eat, and she used the trick of putting a string on the food dish and pulling it very slowly. He will take a step to catch up to his food dish, so she taught him to take a series of steps that way.

The trick I discovered by accident is using sloping pavement. My dog finds it much easier to go downhill than to walk on the level. She was practicing going down slopes for a while before she graduated to flat pavement. She still has to work at going uphill. Once I discovered she could walk down slopes, I started looking around the neighborhood for sloping pavement that was suitable. We even did it where one person started her at the top of the slope and the other person stood at the bottom, and she went down and got a Treat. She loved that. For some reason, she does not drag her hindquarters going downhill. She is often tempted to drag going up and sometimes drags on a level surface if it is difficult terrain, like clumpy grass or rocky.

One other thing you can do if your dog is able, is get her on the carpet or bed and have her roll over on her back with her feet up. Now take hold of her ankles on her back feet and make them do walking motions upside down. I did that with my dog. She wouldn't put up with it for long, only a minute, but I think it helped. It is reminding the body of what the stepping motion feels like. Perhaps you could make this a regular part of her therapy. Walk a hundred steps and get a tummy rub, or whatever. :)

>>We have noticed that when in the water (at the beach) her legs sometimes do a twitching thing but dont move like her front legs.

If you have the right kind of weather to go into the river or lake, you could practice hydrotherapy with her. Here is a picture of a therapist moving a dog's back feet. 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.)

<a href="http://www.walkaboutharnesses.com/succe ... on.html</a>

>>I don't know what Else I can do, i know I seem to have an excuse for everything but honestly we have spent so much time and money trying to make

The thing is you ARE doing it. You ARE getting there. I think the secret is, it can just take a lot more time and effort than anyone bargained for. Oh, for a crystal ball, huh? Have you heard me go on and on about this? My dog first managed to walk about 4 feet (going on a downhill slope, mind you) at around 9 months. Nobody was more surprised than me. At that point, she still couldn't stand up for 10 seconds. I used to watch her try to stand and topple over, and we were lucky if I counted to 7. We did our therapy all along, like you and your partner are doing, but I wasn't working toward a goal because I pretty much abandoned hope at about the 4-month point. Once she got to point of taking steps downhill though, it seemed that progress accelerated. Before that, as I always say, I could Maybe, Possibly, if I really Stretched my imagination, think PERHAPS I saw a little progress about every 6 weeks. I can't even say we proceeded on faith. Honestly, we proceeded on auto-pilot. We just kept doing therapy with no goal in sight. There wasn't anybody telling me we were getting anywhere. There wasn't anybody saying to keep doing it, you're accomplishing something. I didn't know a soul whose dog walked after 9 months. We just kept doing it mindlessly more out of habit than anything. I figured the exercise was good for her, I didn't think she was going to walk. I don't know if your dog will either, but nowadays I won't be nearly as surprised if she does! :)

Jerry

Re: My guess -- you are really very tired *PIC*

Post by Jerry » Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:00 pm

Hi Carol

I am so proud of how far Luna has come, I have come to the conclusion that if she was never to walk again it would not be the end of the world. We can handle it (the constant barking can drive us up the wall but shes so cute what can you do??!!) WHen she is in her cart walking along the carpet her rear feet do take steps 80% of the time and her feet turn up the right way. We are encouraging her to do more for herself. At present if she wants to move somewhere or if there is a bone just out of reach instead of getting to it she barks at it until someone moves it closer. We know she can do it she is just being lazy. The other night she was so desperate to go to bed (our bed) that she made her way about 4 metres towards the hall door!! Not walking but dragging, hopping, you name it!!

Here is a photo of her for every one to look at so you can see how gorgeous she is and why we have let her take advantage of us time and time again!!!!

J


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The other part of spinal walking

Post by CarolC » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:24 pm

Hi Jerry,

Never underestimate the power of cuteness! ;) I can see what you mean, she is so sleek and golden with such a sweet, intelligent face. And boy, does she have muscle!

I don't know what to think about what you are sort of describing as a lack of initiative. You could be right that she does not walk because she wants to be babied. But I'm remembering something I encountered with my dog and maybe you have the same thing with yours. It was at about the same stage of recovery. It is so hard to describe this, but I will try.

They talk about something called "learned non-use". I'm not sure that is the term that applies to my dog, but I applied it for lack of a better one. Basically, it took her about 9 months to be able to walk a distance of 4 feet. You'd think, "Great, she's walking now, she will soon be walking longer distances." It wasn't that simple. There were mental roadblocks. Her ability was coming back, like your dog who is able to stand and take a few steps, but after 9 months of not walking, it simply did not occur to her that she could. She wasn't stubborn. She wasn't wanting to be babied. She just simply had fully accepted that she could not walk and was now logically living her life on that premise. I ***think*** but do not know, or I guess you could say I am ***guessing*** that since her initial walking at the 9-month point was spinal walking, it somehow did not trigger the area of her brain that said "Hooray, I can walk again!" As far as her brain was concerned, she still couldn't walk, regardless of what her legs were doing through the use of a reflexive brain of their own. Even though her legs were moving, they were not giving the biofeedback to her brain that they used to give with normal walking. As far as the "walking" part of her brain was concerned, nothing was happening. The conscious observing part of her brain couldn't help but see that she had been sitting in one place before, and now she had physically moved herself to another place, and that must have been puzzling without the customary biofeedback from her legs.

So we had to learn. We had to have a series of experiences and repetitions where she (almost as a third-person observer) was able to see that she had mobilized herself from one place to another. The very first time she walked 4 feet outdoors was on a sloping sidewalk. She went 4 feet and sat down bewildered. It happened unexpectedly and surprised both of us. When it did happen, I took her back up the slope and let her toddle down again so she did it twice. That time she walked again and sat again, looking just as bewildered. Then I picked her up and we continued our usual, non-walking exercise and went home and I guess she processed it a bit overnight. The next day I was so excited I took her back to the same spot. She had enough of a memory that she walked down it again, and we repeated a few times. But when I took her to another section of sloping sidewalk 100 yards away and set her down, she had no notion whatsoever that she could walk down it. Not a *clue*. She made no connection that over there was a slope she had walked down, and here was a slope and she could walk down this one, too. With encouragement and assistance she had to discover that she could go down that slope. Then we repeated it a few times. Now we had two places she was consciously aware that she could walk down. And so it developed from there. Her first conscious knowledge was she could go down one certain slope. Her second conscious knowledge was she could go down two slopes. Eventually she broadened her assumption to "I can go down slopes!" After that she could always go down slopes.

To give her credit, *she* is the one who figured out she could jump off of curbs. :)

It has been a long process of letting her build up her mental concept of what she can do. She is not negative. I think it is simply that since she is not using the original wiring that produced walking, once she began "spinal walking" with her reflexive/spinal wiring, it did not give the same feedback to her brain that she would have gotten from regular walking.

Something that fascinated me was that after maybe a year (don't know exactly how long--a long time) I realized she was learning to know how to get around a territory in the large sense. For so long she focussed on getting from here to a spot 6 feet from here, or here to that spot over there by the fence, or she would walk a long way but only focussed on what what in front of her while following a scent trail. But she was never forming a mental map in her mind, like you do when you know every inch of your territory. One day we were in a large outdoor patio over at the school and I saw that she suddenly realized that there was a place she wanted to go to that was not within her line of sight, and she knew how to get there. I had carried her throughout the patio many times, but I think it's like being a passenger in the car. You might be a passenger on a trip several times, but that doesn't mean you know the way. It was a huge advance for her to be mentally mapping the place in such large geographic terms and connect to it the concept of her own ability to navigate anywhere within it.

It's as if there are two parts to spinal walking. We spend so much time on the reflexive part, the muscle movments and strength and flexibility. You've got that. You see your dog standing, maybe taking a few steps. Obviously the physical ability is there. But she doesn't KNOW it. It doesn't compute in the part of her brain that originally handled walking. So then you have to work on developing the concept in her of what she can do, build it up step by step. Then she will be able to use the physical ability she already has.

They give us lists of exercises to build muscle, increase flexibility, improve balance, encourage reflexive movement. Then they assume the dog will connect the dots as far as using these abilities we help them develop. The dog might connect the dots faster if we could give them a set of learning experiences designed to show them consciously what can be done with this unconscious (reflexive) ability they have. If my dog had not accidentally gone careening down that slope that one day, I don't know where we'd be now. I had no knowledge that there was a lack of mental concept.

I once dated a guy who'd purchased a secondhand foreign sports car and had been driving it for over a year. Then one day he discovered it had a fifth gear! If you don't know it's there, you won't use it.

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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by Shaz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:43 am

What a great thread, picked it up by chance whilst googling how to teach a dog spinal walking.

Yesterday and this morning, I started Duchess on some exercises taken from another Link of yours Carol, y'day whilst having her meal she stood for 5 seconds and ate, today it was 10 seconds, who knows what the future will bring. Just couldn't believe my eyes when she stood on all fours, I was over the moon, never, ever thought I would see that.

Thank you all for what you bring to us.

Sharon:D

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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by CarolC » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:39 pm

Shaz, that is extremely cool! :yay: I remember how it felt the first time Katie did something like that. I was standing on my tiptoes with both hands over my mouth and my eyes as big as saucers, scared to even move. When you have to wait a long time for it, over the moon is exactly how it feels, you can hardly contain yourself. :D And it is just so interesting (to me at least) to see these changes taking place as you do therapy... Happy for both you!!!!!

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Re: Dogs: Spinal walking

Post by Shaz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:57 pm

Carol, I was so thrilled I was saying to my Husband, Look, Look, HE said well, take your hand away.......I said Fred, look No Hands, he was kinda OMG!

You know this but will say it again, without the Help from you and Joan and other experienced Ladies and Gents here Duchess would not have made it this far.

The future looks good in that we have a yet another new focus, the 1st focus was expressing, the 2nd was passive therapy and now we are in physical therapy, such a shame that Duch hates water, we have a warm swimming pool, never mind, no owner can have everything.

Just remember, all that have helped me, you brought a Big Woohooo Moment to our lives.

Sharon :)

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