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Hello,

I was wondering if anyone could explain something that my dog Haku is doing. Due to hip and injury issues, I spend a lot of time watching his legs and gait and stuff. Once exercise restrictions were lifted I thought Haku was limping again but actually what he is doing is pacing.

When we walk, jog or hike he will pace instead of trot almost 95% of the time. Even if we speed up. He will run after a ball or if I am sprinting. It's so weird. Why does he do this? I think "pace" is the correct description for this gait. Between a walk and a trot. He uses right back and front leg together then Left side legs together. I want ot teach him to jog with me but he won't trot...Is this a pain thing with his hips? :(

pace.png
 

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I look at gaits often since I train guide dogs and their working speed and gait patterns have to be recorded. Naturally, it’s caused me to look at my own dogs frequently. My late dog Tilden was a trotter, did this naturally / effortlessly, regardless of speed. Keystone is a pacer. Typically an increase of speed will encourage a trot, but some dogs just won’t do it. Golden retrievers are notorious pacers and we actually have to teach them to trot through use of a treadmill - many still don’t maintain it throughout training. Periodically, when off leash I’ll notice Keystone trot, generally when transitioning in / out of a gallop. On average, a speed of 3.5mph will get a dog trotting, I have a dog in my current group that will continue to pace even at 5.0mph - a speed where most dogs would be galloping. I stopped trying.

Anyway... walk, trot, pace... all are (can be) normal. The dogs I work with are checked throughly for physical soundness. A trot is preferred because it’s simply more efficient for the body.

All of that said... a dog with back issues can and do make adjustments to their gait patterns to compensate for discomfort. Sounds like this could apply to your dog but I don’t know it’s history. If that’s the case, I would address the underlying issue but discontinue your attempts to change his gait or force a trot.

But hey, I get it, I like dogs to trot because it looks nicer, more fluid and feels better when they’re pulling into a harness. I can want that all day... but they’re all different. Oh well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I look at gaits often since I train guide dogs and their working speed and gait patterns have to be recorded. Naturally, it’s caused me to look at my own dogs frequently. My late dog Tilden was a trotter, did this naturally / effortlessly, regardless of speed. Keystone is a pacer. Typically an increase of speed will encourage a trot, but some dogs just won’t do it. Golden retrievers are notorious pacers and we actually have to teach them to trot through use of s treadmill - many still won’t maintain it throughout training. Periodically, when off leash I’ll notice Keystone trot, generally when transitioning in or out of a gallop.

Anyway... walk, trot, pace... all are (can be) normal. The dogs I work with are checked throughly for physical soundness. A trot is preferred because it’s simply more efficient for the body.

All of that said... a dog with back issues can and do make adjustments to their gait patterns to compensate for discomfort. Sounds like this could apply to your dog but I don’t know it’s history. If that’s the case, I would address the underlying issue but discontinue your attempts to change his gait or force a trot.

Hey, I like dogs to trot because it looks nicer, more fluid and feels better when they’re pulling into a harness. I can want that all day... but they’re all different. Oh well.
Hi Fodder,

Thank you for your reply. That is very interesting. While I hate to think Haku is in so much pain he is altering his gate, this gives me a bit of hope that maybe it's just what he likes to do. I will just let him be and hope for the best haha. Yes I feel a bit silly jogging next to him pacing at full speed...He is also a really big dog so I struggle to go fast enough for him to justify a trot haha
 

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Hi Fodder,

Thank you for your reply. That is very interesting. While I hate to think Haku is in so much pain he is altering his gate, this gives me a bit of hope that maybe it's just what he likes to do. I will just let him be and hope for the best haha. Yes I feel a bit silly jogging next to him pacing at full speed...He is also a really big dog so I struggle to go fast enough for him to justify a trot haha
I don’t know that I’d say he’s in “so much pain”, I don’t have the medical knowledge or experience to really explain what’s going on, I just know that it happens. Think about if you were to stump your big toe and started walking more on the heel/outer side of your foot - voila, discomfort is gone because you made an adjustment. Although when dealing with the back I’m sure it’s much more involved than that.

Do you know or can you remember if he trotted prior to his injury? Maybe you have a video somewhere?
 

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I don’t know that I’d say he’s in “so much pain”, I don’t have the medical knowledge or experience to really explain what’s going on, I just know that it happens. Think about if you were to stump your big toe and started walking more on the heel/outer side of your foot - voila, discomfort is gone because you made an adjustment. Although when dealing with the back I’m sure it’s much more involved than that.

Do you know or can you remember if he trotted prior to his injury? Maybe you have a video somewhere?
Hmmm. I think he may have trotted more. I took some videos of us hiking when he was 11months old so I could compare them to after I replaced his hip. He was much younger though, and more full of energy. He also has recently been put on medication for his anxiety and it's affecting his energy levels. Agh, I just don't know anymore. Maybe he is too tired to trot lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is a video of him 13 weeks after his hip surgery at 14months old:


He paces much more now. But then again maybe it's an energy thing. He is much more alert/ excited here.


This is him about a month ago:


He paces almost 100% of the time now since. Unless he is walking or running after something. Thinking back on this and the recent changes with the energy and medication, it may be worth some thought into that.
 
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