German Shepherds have a specific slope of the back, which affects the health of the back legs. This can lead to specific diseases peculiar to the German Shepherd breed. These include hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis, which greatly affects quality of life and longevity.
No owner wants that for his GSD, so it is important to start prevention in advance by strengthening the joints, ligaments and muscles. So, how to make German Shepherd back legs stronger?
Causes of Weakness in Back Legs of German Shepherds
The internet often mentions the problem of weak back legs in German Shepherds that occurs with age. It is about the weakness and atrophy of the muscles in GSDs, so the dogs are less able to lean on these legs. This problem can be caused by several factors, each of which is discussed separately below.
Causes that reduce joint mobility in German Shepherd dogs
The activity of the joints is influenced by multiple factors. There can be a lot of reasons for the decline in joint mobility:
One of the reasons affecting joint mobility is excess weight. Most owners do not think about the fact that overfeeding their pet, cause great harm. If the pet’s ribs are not palpable, it is worth putting it on a diet and bringing the weight in line with the standards.
Increased activity (usually in champion dogs and small dogs endowed with increased mobility) accelerates joint wear. Due to hyperactivity, the musculoskeletal system does not always have time to recover and leads a four-legged friend to the risk zone.
Causes of back legs failure in GSD
The reasons why German Shepherd’s back legs bend their paws are different. Let’s look at a few basic.
It is typical for German Shepherd of small breeds with a genetic predisposition to instability of intervertebral discs. As a rule, these are pugs, Pekingese, French bulldogs, poodles. The displacement of the discs leads to compression of the spinal cord, which, with the most unfavorable outcome, can lead not only to complete immobilization of the limbs, but also to death. Due to the fact that the dog begins to experience acute pain, she tries to limit herself as much as possible in movement.
He often freezes in a certain position, hunching his spine and pulling in his neck, trembles and eventually just falls to the floor. If the pain is not very critical, then the external signs may be less pronounced. The pet will, as it were, drag its paws behind it, dodge jumps and sudden movements, bend over with difficulty.
Diseases of the hip joints
The risk group usually includes German Shepherd of large breeds — Dobermans, Rottweilers, great Danes, St. Bernards, etc. Often a similar diagnosis is made to sheepdogs at the age of 6-12 months. Problems with hip joints can be periodic, subsiding and getting worse under the influence of various reasons.
For example, from insufficient or excessive physical activity. The dog may fall on his paws after waking up or an active walk. It is not necessary that the disease will affect both limbs at once. There is a high probability that the German Shepherd will pull only one paw. Possible causes of dysplasia for German Shepherd:
- Genetic predisposition;
- lack of vitamin C, vitamin D;
- heavy body weight;
- dog food (proper diet)
- Improper conditions of detention.
Congenital pathologies of German Shepherd breed
Severe injuries. During the rehabilitation period, it is necessary to minimize the load, incrementally increasing and making it possible to gradually restore the mobility of the joint. Insufficient formation or improper distribution of muscle mass.
Old age. It is very important to monitor the health of the dog from puppyhood to old age. Over the years, complications with joints only increase.
Pay special attention to the hip joints, with which the German Shepherd back constantly.
Injuries of German Shepherd’s
This category includes all injuries and injuries suffered by an German Shepherd accidentally or intentionally. For example, a German Shepherd may get hurt in a fight, get hit by a car, slip on ice, fall into a pit or hit hard on some hard surface. If the spine is damaged as a result of the injury, then the probability that the dog will have problems with coordination is very high.
Swelling appears at the site of the injury / wound, which leads to compression of the spinal cord and adjacent nerves. Blood circulation in the damaged area is disrupted, therefore, nerve cells do not receive adequate nutrition and die. The “delivery” of nerve impulses to the peripheral system becomes difficult, tissue sensitivity is lost. The presence of a serious injury can lead to irreversible consequences — a rupture of the spinal cord.
What Exercises Strengthen Shepherd’s Back Legs
Start with the simplest exercises, increasing the load gradually. Later, you can add weights to make your workout even more effective. Treat training as a game so your dog enjoys it. Praise your dog and give him a treat for every successful exercise. In case of hot weather, offer water as needed.
All activities performed should developmuscle strength, joint and ligament stability, so the exercises are divided into groups.
Exercises to strengthen the back legs of German Shepherds
To strengthen the dog’s hind legs, there are many exercises.
The stand on the hind legs is carried out by the order “to serve”. To make your pet stand on its hind legs, motivate it with your favorite treat. Increase the standing time step by step. Jumping up can be provoked by throwing a toy or a piece of dog food. Running up the stairs perfectly strengthens the dog’s hind legs. Don’t forget about the leg muscles.
A staircase in a park or a multi-storey house is suitable for this exercise. Spend the lesson in the form of a game. Throw a ball up the stairs and demand to bring it. Vertical squatting using a small stool under the front paws no higher than the dog’s elbow. The back legs should be on a low flimsy surface.
The dog is required to sit down without removing the front paws from the elevation. At the same time, the muscles of the hind legs are strained as much as possible. The exercise perfectly strengthens the muscles of the dog’s hind legs. You can seek help from a vet physical therapist.
If your dog gets emotional and barks excessively during training, check out our post How to Stop German Shepherd Barking: Detailed Answers to Frequent Questions.
Strengthening the joints and ligaments of German Shepherds
To strengthen and guarantee the stability of the joints, the dog should have sufficiently developed muscles in the hind legs, back, and part of the muscles of the shoulder girdle. In order for the muscular “bandage” to properly protect the joints and ligaments, it is recommended to walk competently with the dog.
It may be funny to most, but the correct muscle formation is affected by whether a pet is walking on a leash, or without it. This state of affairs is explained quite simply. Free from the leash, the animal independently chooses the pace of movements, loading itself to a minimum. Dogs are very rational in their actions and movements.
Therefore, do not be lazy and periodically walk your pet on a leash at a relatively fast trot. To improve blood circulation in the joints, practice aerobic exercises (swimming, running, walking) every two days, alternating them. More often is not recommended. Measure the dog’s pulse from time to time. After loading, it should not exceed 30%, in comparison with the state of rest. In case of deviations, undergo an ultrasound of the heart.
Exercise to strengthen the pastern of German Shepherds
Do not try to strengthen the ligaments and reduce their elasticity until the dog is fully formed. With proper care, everything comes back to normal by the time of growing up. But the pasterns should be protected from infancy. A growing pet should be provided with a full-fledged calcified diet and special supplements and vitamins.
The puppy is not recommended to walk constantly on slippery surfaces (linoleum, parquet, laminate). To strengthen the pastern, walking on small pebbles or gravel is necessary. The owner is obliged to protect the growing pet from excessive loads during games, jumping from an impressive height. At a tender age, the dog’s paws have not yet become stronger, which can provoke injuries. This is especially true for large breeds.
Strengthening the forelegs and back legs of German Shepherds
To strengthen the forelimbs, the dog should be encouraged to do push-ups. The dog is in a standing position, and you lure her down and pull the treat along the floor from the dog, not allowing her to lie down. Feeding paws from a lying position strengthens the forelimbs well. Lifting the elbow off the floor, the pet works out the shoulder perfectly.
Alternate paws. With the help of a toy or a treat, we encourage you to stand on your hind German Shepherd’s back legs, as vertically as possible in relation to the floor. The German Shepherds stands with his front paws on the table, and at the command “Hide”, puts his head between the table and the croup, thus sagging on his front German Shepherd’s back legs.
It is important to observe muscle mass in order to avoid unnecessary loads on the front legs and hind legs. With a normal body weight, that is, healthy weight, the physical health of the dog will be excellent, hip problems will disappear, the joints of the dog will not hurt, which will allow you to take daily walks and long walks.
Safety Precautions When Exercising a German Shepherd
Before starting classes with a dog and performing exercises, take into account some factors. First of all, check the condition of your German Shepherd. You may not be aware that the disease is progressing for this period, and do not pay attention to the symptoms until the dog falls from a sharp attack of pain. If classes are held indoors, make sure there are no slippery surfaces in order to avoid injury.
Avoid overworking the German Shepherd. Aerobic exercise is given to the dog no more than 1-2 days. Walking should be monotonous, at the same rhythm, on a short leash, for at least 1 hour – if you do not adhere to these rules, such training will not be considered an aerobic exercise. It is not recommended to force the dog to run long distances every day. For running, find cushioning surfaces – and its duration should not be more than 15 minutes. It is forbidden to run on paved paths!
As for swimming, the maximum monotonous swimming time is 10 minutes. Do a warm-up and stretching for the dog. Stretching increases the amplitude of movement, reduces pain. It can be of 2 types: active and passive.
Do not forget that when stretching the shoulder, it is strictly forbidden to bring the paw to the side and sharply upwards, it is recommended that the toes look towards the nose – that is, the paw stretches slightly to the center.
To summarize all that has been said about the exercises, watch the video German Shepherd Exercise Needs and Ideas by Barkercise:
What is better not to do in training German Shepherd’s back legs
You should not give the German Shepherd pain on the stretch, stop at the moment when you stumble upon resistance, hold in this position for a few seconds and release. Stretching goes after warming up, so as not to harm the dog.
If the warm–up takes place before classes, then stretching after training can be a hitch. Be attentive and caring towards your four-legged friend! The German Shepherd legs should always be in motion but do not overwork.
The Importance of Proper Nutrition for German Shepherd
To strengthen the hind limbs of the German Shepherd dog, cottage cheese and other fermented dairy products, raw meat, vegetables, and gelatin should take place in the dog’s diet. Young animals need to be provided with sparing physical activity for their hind legs. Do not overfeed under any circumstances, regardless of age.
Dog’s age can also affect the condition of the dog’s joints. Senior dogs often refuse active daily walks. The affected joints begin to collapse, the progressive disease begins to weaken the animal. Bad hips stop practically moving. The dog cannot play games, the joint condition is worsens, and neurological disease.
Daily calorie requirements for GSD
Active exercise requires a nutritious diet. The number of calories depends on your dog’s size, age, and status. Use the information compiled by Animal Mecical Center of Chicago to dose your dog’s food.
|Body weight (pounds/kilos)||Puppy up to 4 mos.||Puppy over 4 mos.||Neutered adult||Intact adult||Obese prone||Weight loss|
|1 / 0.45||115||77||61.5||73||58||/|
|2 / 0.90||194||129||104||123||97||/|
|3 / 1.36||264||176||141||168||132||/|
|4 / 1.81||330||220||176||198||154||110|
|5 / 2.26||390||260||208||234||182||130|
|6 / 2.72||447||298||238||268||209||149|
|7 / 3.17||501||334||267||301||234||167|
|8 / 3.63||552||368||294||331||258||184|
|9 / 4.08||603||402||332||362||281||201|
|10 / 4.54||654||436||349||392||305||218|
|11 / 4.98||702||468||374||421||328||234|
|12 / 5.44||750||500||400||450||350||250|
|13 / 5.89||795||530||424||477||371||265|
|14 / 6.35||840||560||448||504||392||280|
|15 / 6.80||885||590||472||531||413||295|
|16 / 7.26||930||620||496||558||434||310|
|17 / 7.71||972||648||518||583||454||324|
|18 / 8.16||1017||678||542||610||475||339|
|19 / 8.61||1059||706||565||635||494||353|
|20 / 9.07||1098||732||586||659||512||366|
|25 / 11.34||1299||866||693||779||606||433|
|30 / 13.60||1491||994||795||895||696||497|
|35 / 15.87||1674||1116||893||1004||781||558|
|40 / 18.14||1848||1232||986||1109||862||616|
|45 / 20.41||2019||1346||1077||1211||942||673|
|50 / 22.68||/||1458||1166||1312||1021||729|
|55 / 24.95||/||1566||1253||1409||1096||783|
|60 / 27.22||/||1670||1336||1503||1169||835|
|65 / 29.48||/||1774||1419||1597||1242||887|
|70 / 31.75||/||1876||1501||1688||1313||938|
|75 / 34.01||/||1976||1581||1778||1383||988|
|80 / 36.28||/||2074||1659||1867||1452||1037|
|85 / 38.55||/||2170||1736||1953||1519||1085|
|90 / 40.82||/||2264||1811||2038||1585||1132|
|95 / 43.09||/||2358||1886||2122||1651||1179|
|100 / 45.36||/||2450||1960||2205||1715||1225|
Necessary Prevention for German Shepherd Dog
To exclude the possibility of hip dysplasia, the following rules must be observed:
- feed your dog only with properly balanced food;
- do not overfeed the shepherd to avoid gaining excess weight;
- properly distribute physical activity for the animal;
- carry out preventive diagnostics.
Weak back legs, as a rule, are due to a small amount of training, but also, weak back legs can be a sign of congenital defect.
How to strengthen the back legs of a German Shepherd
It’s time to answer the question, of how to make German Shepherd back legs stronger. In order to strengthen the articular ligamentous apparatus of the German Shepherd, it is mandatory for German Shepherd:
- adjusting the balanced diet of the dog (back legs);
- use of specialized supplements;
- physical training for German Shepherd;
- physiotherapy procedures (massage, swimming, gymnastics regulations);
- strength training that strengthens ligaments and tendons;
- static dynamics aimed at intensity in the motor range;
- comprehensive exercises to improve the condition of joints and ligaments, designed for the age scale and the general well-being of the dog’s body and back legs;
- preventive examinations at the veterinarian and tests;
- a comfortable place to rest, not subject to drafts;
- your love and care.
The main thing to remember is that it is always easier to prevent the disease than to cure it.
How do you strengthen a dog’s back leg?
Active walks are a great way to strengthen a German Shepherd’s back legs. If there is a dog workout zone nearby you, be sure to use it. A varied activity and exercises are always better than a monotonous long walk.
Also, a frisbee is great for strengthening your dog’s back legs, as it means a variety of jumps up and sideways.
Why does my German Shepherds back legs give out?
Some common German Shepherd back legs problems include degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. These conditions cause tissue damage, inflammation, and pain, which causes the German Shepherd to begin to keep the back legs from working hard. Thus the muscles are used less and less, and the situation further deteriorates to the point of complete limb failure.
How can I help my dog with weak back legs?
In modern medicine, depending on the diagnosis, there are two ways to treat hip dysplasia: therapeutic and surgical. Therapeutic treatment can have an excellent effect if the hip dysplasia is of mild to moderate severity.
Therapy includes joint-supporting medications, special food, massages, swimming, and vitamins. If necessary, the doctor prescribes pain medication. Muscle exercises can be performed only sparingly, if it is within the dog’s strength.
At what age do German Shepherds start having hip problems?
Hip dysplasia can start at any age. Mostly owners of German Shepherd puppies at the age of six months to one year go to the veterinarian.
At a young age, the condition may be easier to tolerate due to strong muscles, but it may become more serious at an older age.
Final Thoughts How to Make GHD’s Back Legs Stronger
Thus, answering the question, of how to make a German Shepherd’s back legs stronger, you can answer that proper dog food and training will help strengthen the joints. It is very important to pay increased attention back legs. The back legs also need constant medical supervision to prevent the risk of various diseases. We also advise you to train your leg muscles most importantly, remember, the German Shepherd is healthy when he lives in love, has proper weight loss, has a proper diet, and comfort.
The German Shepherd’s health, like that of any other dog, is very important. Insufficient amount of activity and vitamin D, and vitamin C can lead to the health issue, hip issues, and degenerative myelopathy. Daily exercise and a diet plan will help reduce pain, the condition of the joints will improve, and good health will appear. The main thing is not to forget the right vitamins.