Rehabbing an Injury

After last week got away from me talking about the neural factors in strength performance, I hope to keep it a little bit more brief today.  And what I want to talk about is how I specifically worked to rehab an injury in one of my few trainees.

The long and the short of it is that during a workout, they got all twisted up during a ball game and their limp on the left side indicated that something was injured.   A quick trip to the doctor along with some X-rays determined that, thankfully, it wasn’t an ACL tear.  Rather, the hip joint was injured and no surgery was indicated.

It didn’t appear to be too severe but I was told to bring them back if it wasn’t improving after a number of weeks.  Painkillers were provided to be used as necessary and the trainee used them fairly continuously for the first two weeks simply to facilitate overall daily activity without pain.

The next few weeks were fairly simple, the trainee was kept off the injured leg to as great a degree as possible.  Food was also kept high enough to ensure an optimal situation for tissue healing.  There was some fat gain which is never easily accepted by anyone but it was the price that had to be paid in the short-term.   You need an anabolic state to heal injuries and that means sufficient or a slight excess of calories.  I always shudder when I hear people ask about dieting when injured to avoid fat gain.  Because all it will do is slow healing.  The fat can come off later.

Perhaps the biggest issue was one of simple boredom.  Being on what amounts to chronic bed rest, especially when you’re used to being highly active, can drive the strongest mind crazy.  And with no insult intended, this particular trainee isn’t the sharpest mind to begin with.  I tried to find activities to keep them mentally busy but it was definitely a short-term band-aid situation.  There wasn’t much else that could be done.

After a few weeks, it became clear that the injury was getting better.  This was subjective on my part, observing the trainee’s movements, primarily walking.  Were they protecting the injured side, trying to limit pressure on that leg?  As I saw the trainee get to the point where there was no apparent asymmetry during walking, I decided it was time to gradually bring them back into activity.

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NORMAN! Part 4

So finishing up (for now) from NORMAN! Part 3, I’m going to talk today about some of the issues I’ve dealt with (or am still dealing with) in terms of training not only NORMAN but also in working with the two of them.  As I mentioned on Tuesday, dealing with a two dog household was pretty much more than a doubling of effort in terms of training because I had to deal not only with them individually but in terms of their various interactions.

Unfortunately, most of what I had learned at the shelter had left me unprepared for this since we don’t do a lot of dog interaction stuff outside of very controlled playgroups (and I’m only now qualified to be involved in those).  So basically I was making it up as I went along, asking friends with dog experience, and doing a whole lot of Googling.  Many of the higher level BRATTs at the Austin Humane Shelter also have multiple dog households so I picked their brains constantly as well.

I’d note as I go through some of what I did and what happened that you should be able to pick out clear examples of the types of positive reinforcement and negative punishment (along with ignoring behaviors and the occasional use of positive punishment) that I discussed in such irritating detail in Because We Let Them.  Put differently, there are going to be some suggestions for dog training throughout this article if you pay attention.  Or you can ignore the dense blocks of text and just  focus on the dog pictures.

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Puppy Loud, So Freaking Loud

In the year I’ve had him ALFIE! has been distinctly non-vocal.  I’ve heard maybe 10 barks total (and several of those are recently), he’ll whine when he really has to poo and yelp from time to time.  Which is just fine with me; there are plenty of chronically barky dogs in the neighborhood (my neighbors has given me several 4am wake up calls) and I didn’t need one in my life.

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NORMAN! Part 3

In NORMAN! Part 2, I had gotten approval to foster NORMAN after the dog introduction (which had started a bit rough but then settled down sufficiently).  I had gotten a crate and the other necessary stuff and it was time to take him home.   He was acting a little bit stressed in his crate but that’s fairly normal.  The one thing I should have done in hindsight was kenneled ALFIE! so that I could let NORMAN! run around the house and sniff a bit first before they interacted.   Maybe I’ll get it  right for dog number three.

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The Second First Impression

When we do dog introductions at the Austin Humane Shelter, it’s effectively neutral ground (I’m not sure that any of the shelter dogs really see the shelter as their ‘territory’).  But it was different bringing NORMAN home to the house since this was ALFIE’s territory and he’d been an only dog going on a solid 8 months (and we’d been in the house since January). 

So now I was bringing the young interloper NORMAN into ALFIE’S territory and had to be prepared for the worst in case ALFIE! lost his shit and a fight started.  He didn’t but the first few interactions were pretty similar to the initial introduction.  A bit of growling and aggression, maybe a bit on the rougher side, I mainly had to just watch carefully.  So long as it wasn’t escalating into an all-out fight (and make no mistake they still play a bit roughly and I have found small cuts from time to time), I wasn’t too worried and felt confident that they’d work it out.  Hopefully without any straight up murder going on.

Jumping ahead, I’ve had NORMAN! here for just over 10 weeks and most of the initial problems, some of which I’ll describe shortly, are gone.  Play time can still get a bit rough but I put them on time out when it gets too mouthy or bitey for my liking.  Just so that they don’t learn that biting on each other (or worse yet, on people) is an acceptable thing.  Some of this was even training myself not to roughhouse with them.  It may be fun but ultimately teaches them that being rough with humans is acceptable and that’s not a good thing. 

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NORMAN! Part 2

So in NORMAN! Part 1 I wrote up an introduction that you can probably guess the punchline to but I’m still walking you through this the long way.  In short, by sheer accident I had been in the clinic when we got a new puppy named NORMAN! with a messed up back leg.  We all sort of fell in love with him and I was the first to walk him.  I had been considering getting ALFIE! a playmate as it was and NORMAN! seemed like a good choice.

At this point, NORMAN! had been put on kennel rest.  He was limited to the runs, no walking in the field, and basically would get 4 weeks of this until his leg healed and he got the follow-up X-rays to see if he’d need surgery or not.  That meant he was limited to his cage, going out to potty and whatever time/energy volunteers could give him beyond that.  The kennel is tough enough but sick or injured dogs have it worse because they are even more limited in what you can do with them.

In cases like this, and in many other cases, dog are often sent to foster homes, presumably temporary housing where someone will give them a bit more attention and loving than they would get otherwise.  Sometimes it’s just to free up space in the kennel; folks will foster dogs to give them temporary homes until we have cages.  When we took in the 179 dogs from the Bastrop hoarding situation, we had had an immense number of folks put them in foster to help us out.

So at this point NORMAN! was available for foster; and yes, BRATT’s do a lot of fostering since we know how to keep up with their training, etc.  Often long-term fosters by BRATT’s turn into full fledged adoptions.  After weeks of having the dog in your home, you’re in love with it so you just keep it.  Eventually he’d be up for adoption and if I was going to consider fostering him at all it would be towards long-term adoption.  I didn’t see any point in taking care of him for 4 weeks and then letting someone else have him in any case.

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ALFIE!: Part 4

On Tuesday in ALFIE: Part 3, I did an update on ALFIE, the dog I had adopted myself from the Austin Humane Shelter.  I talked about some of the training I did with him (including breaking him of humping along with teaching him touch and brofist) and showed a bunch of pictures because that’s what dog updates are supposed to be about.

Today I’m going to talk about some other stuff that has happened with ALFIE! including me doing my workouts around him along with our Christmas road-trip/adventure.  Don’t worry, I’ll be babbling about training and fat loss come next week so anybody who’s getting all twisted can certainly wait a few more days.

On with the show.

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Training With ALFIE!

In the full blue dog class I’m taking, one thing that they presented us with was the concept of breed specific traits.  Humans bred dogs over the years (after we fully domesticated them and I highly recommend a Nova Documentary called Dogs Decoded for a fascinating look at this) for specific characteristics.  Some of them were physical but some of them were behavioral.  And certain dogs tend to show certain stereotyped behavior because of this.

ALFIE! as a beagle/lab mix ends up having some of the distinctive characteristics of both, I see them in spades.  The constant chewing is one but another he has is severe separation anxiety.  Unless he’s sleeping, he usually doesn’t like to be more than about 8 feet from me at all times.  Quite in fact he’s underfoot a lot and I’ve stepped on his paw once or twice because of it.  Often he can be conked out under my desk and if I get up to get a soda, as soon as I break the 8 foot barrier, he’s up and following me.

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