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Discussion Starter #1
I just want share my unfortunate experience with new puppy owners so as to reduce the likelihood of your pup developing elbow dysphasia.
I got my high drive wl puppy at 2 months of age and she is only 10 months old now. Her breeder had warned me about not letting her jump down anything taller than her withers and to not play fetch with her until after a year old. Well I tried to limit her jumping but did play fetch with to excercise her as my knee deteriorated. She crashes hard on her front legs from a full run to grab the moving ball or bouncing stick. A couple months ago she started to come up lame in her front legs playing fetch. Long story short, she has bilateral medial coronoid fractures and will have arthroscopic surgery to remove fragmented bone in both elbows.
I don't know if she is genetically predisposed to elbow dysphasia. Doesn't matter now. She is very strong and healthy. Just too driven for her own good.
So, puppy owners, please consider this for the long term health of your dog.
 

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Wow!That's terrible.Poor puppy.And poor owner!Was she on hard surfaces?I've always thought fetch was ok as long as no jumping was involved or extreme twists and turns.Hope she makes a complete recovery.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Wow!That's terrible.Poor puppy.And poor owner!Was she on hard surfaces?I've always thought fetch was ok as long as no jumping was involved or extreme twists and turns.Hope she makes a complete recovery.
Thanks. I'm heart broken. IPO is out of the question now. Hopefully she can still have a SAR career.
No I made sure to play fetch on grass and dirt and replaced the rock in my backyard with wood chips. I don't know how other pups retrieve but mine gets after it so hard it just looks terrible on her front legs as she comes to a grinding halt. I strongly suggest if anyone's pup does that stop playing fetch until your dog is at least a year old. Also limit the jumping. Tug is much healthier.
 

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this is a common cause of injury at any age but growing puppies are always more at risk since the bones are still growing. elbow dysplasia is something different - a genetic malformation of the joint but many vets and owners use the term "dysplasia" to cover any joint issue of hips or elbows.

some tips to avoid these type of injury in dogs of any age -
throw the ball uphill. put the dog in a stay and only release after the ball has stopped rolling. teach the dog to arc in an angle when coming in for a stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Teaching my pup to stay until released to retrieve has been next to impossible especially when she was younger. But yes that was what we had been working on. Uphill is a great suggestion for a stick. Her fetching is now limited to sticks in water. I threw all my tennis balls out.
Again I suggest waiting to play fetch until the pup is at least 10-12 months old.
 

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Waiting to play fetch until the dogs are 10-12 months old will not save them from a fracture injury such as yours has. It's in injury that involved broken bones, not a condition caused by genetics or impact on joints. The way to avoid that is in how you play fetch as Dainerra described.

I really hope you aren't throwing sticks as in wood stick? That's a whole other host of injuries. Is it one of those dog toy sticks like Kong makes?
 

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Except for the water, there's really no retrieves that aren't going to be hard on the joints of a dog like this. The way they attack what they're retrieving is scary sometimes. Uphill is fine by itself, but she's going to come flying back downhill and that's hard on them too. The stay helps with the stay, but thats it, she may even explode more on it when she gets there. When she recovers, try recalls where you alternate a front with turning sideways with a release for her to run by and snatch the toy. Our lab had terrible elbows. Swimming after the toy was all she could do without coming up lame.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Waiting to play fetch until the dogs are 10-12 months old will not save them from a fracture injury such as yours has. It's in injury that involved broken bones, not a condition caused by genetics or impact on joints. The way to avoid that is in how you play fetch as Dainerra described.

I really hope you aren't throwing sticks as in wood stick? That's a whole other host of injuries. Is it one of those dog toy sticks like Kong makes?
I disagree. A lbp's skeleton grows rapidly before 10-12 months and is more susceptible to impact injury.

Yes I throw wood sticks. Half my backyard is covered with wood chips. Yes I don't like that she chews on wood and worry about that. I put a lot of thought and effort into limiting things that'll harm my pup. We can't live in a bubble.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Except for the water, there's really no retrieves that aren't going to be hard on the joints of a dog like this. The way they attack what they're retrieving is scary sometimes. Uphill is fine by itself, but she's going to come flying back downhill and that's hard on them too. The stay helps with the stay, but thats it, she may even explode more on it when she gets there. When she recovers, try recalls where you alternate a front with turning sideways with a release for her to run by and snatch the toy. Our lab had terrible elbows. Swimming after the toy was all she could do without coming up lame.
Been doing that for a while; will have to increase the distance in the future.
Yes even fetch in the water involves a lot of jumping but at least it's in the water. She's a great swimmer so that's what we'll be doing a lot. Unfortunately she won't swim next to me and gets stressed when I'm out in the water.
 

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A stick impaling is a nasty thing. I would choose a ball on string or cuz, chuckit! Frisbee instead...and keep it low. My young male is 18 months and a nutjob. I try to keep him from skidding and jumping but know that it is hard to keep him in low drive. I had prelims done at one year and he had a healed 'fracture' on his pelvic bone. I don't know if this will affect his OFA grading when he's and I send them in.
I do worry about joints because I don't want my dog dragging his butt around at 7-8 years of age.
I retired my other male at 7 so he can hopefully be agile and strong when he's in his senior years.
 

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I am so deeply sorry that this has happened, especially with the goals you had for the two of you.
I once mentioned the following before in another thread some time ago but will do it again. Deja is super driven and I know she will injure herself with the standard fetching techniques; throwing balls and letting them retrieve while they can see the ball/toy where and after it landed. What I figured out is the following that really slows her down before she finds the toy/ball. I have her sit next to me, varying the left or right sides, or on a down stay, either close or far away or around a corner out of sight where she cannot even see the ball land. (took training and practice of course). My objective is that she won't know where that ball/toy landed but has to search for it. This in itself slows her down as she doesn't have to put on the brakes when she would see a toy. She wil only know the general direction, the rest is nose work. I release her with "Find It!" when the ball is no longer moving and not visible anymore. So if she is sitting next to me, I make sure that ball lands in taller grass, where I know there aren't any stumps or other obstacles. If I mess up and that ball lands in sight or on an unsafe surface, I put her on a down-stay and get the ball myself. She is an expert in searching so I can have her on a down-stay, walk around the house and throw the ball far, walk back to her and release her with the command to find it. She always does quickly. But the good thing with all these variations is that her joints do not get that crazy impact as when she outruns a toy. I hope this helps. I also don't work with the flirt pole any longer when that crazy drive surfaces in them.
 

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I am so deeply sorry that this has happened, especially with the goals you had for the two of you.
I once mentioned the following before in another thread some time ago but will do it again. Deja is super driven and I know she will injure herself with the standard fetching techniques; throwing balls and letting them retrieve while they can see the ball/toy where and after it landed. What I figured out is the following that really slows her down before she finds the toy/ball. I have her sit next to me, varying the left or right sides, or on a down stay, either close or far away or around a corner out of sight where she cannot even see the ball land. (took training and practice of course). My objective is that she won't know where that ball/toy landed but has to search for it. This in itself slows her down as she doesn't have to put on the brakes when she would see a toy. She wil only know the general direction, the rest is nose work. I release her with "Find It!" when the ball is no longer moving and not visible anymore. So if she is sitting next to me, I make sure that ball lands in taller grass, where I know there aren't any stumps or other obstacles. If I mess up and that ball lands in sight or on an unsafe surface, I put her on a down-stay and get the ball myself. She is an expert in searching so I can have her on a down-stay, walk around the house and throw the ball far, walk back to her and release her with the command to find it. She always does quickly. But the good thing with all these variations is that her joints do not get that crazy impact as when she outruns a toy. I hope this helps. I also don't work with the flirt pole any longer when that crazy drive surfaces in them.
Playing find it like that is great. Out here it can be kinda seasonal, everything tall tends to be foxtails except in winter.
 

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I also play find it and have all along with fetch...throwing the ball in such a way the dog has to hunt for it. You can even build in delays so that all you do is show the dog your empty hands. When Beau was young I would fake throw then toss it close by. I think hunting and retrieving games are very important for young puppies - particularly those suited for SAR - and the key is to do it in such a way to avoid jarring impacts.


Or do other fun things that were not too hard on him.

 

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Shadow is 6 years old and still falls on her head if I am not careful. Vet suggested throwing her Frisbee or ball at the fence to give her a visual barrier. Even when she is just tracking her head stops and her body keeps going causing her front legs to buckle and tossing her into a somersault type move. The fence or garage work great and seem to remind her to apply the brakes properly.

I'm sorry your pup got hurt.
 

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I'm wondering if this has more to do with the breed than the actual game of fetch. I see working line dogs like mals and dutchies being worked a lot at a young age. Honestly what are we supposed to do? Just keep our pups crated until a year old? That is torture. Pups like to run jump and play, how can we stop it? Even if they were left alone in an empty padded room I'm sure they would still find a way to get into mischief. I always upped the dairy for my dogs at their young stages. An extra spoon of yogurt a few times a week can only help.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I'm wondering if this has more to do with the breed than the actual game of fetch. I see working line dogs like mals and dutchies being worked a lot at a young age. Honestly what are we supposed to do? Just keep our pups crated until a year old? That is torture. Pups like to run jump and play, how can we stop it? Even if they were left alone in an empty padded room I'm sure they would still find a way to get into mischief. I always upped the dairy for my dogs at their young stages. An extra spoon of yogurt a few times a week can only help.
It didn't for my pup. She has goat or cow milk yogurt a few times a week and herring oil every day. Mals aren't mentioned as a breed suseptible to this injury. My trainer has Mals and trains a ton of them and they don't suffer this condition. I agree you can't lock a pup in a crate for a year. I'd say playmates to run with would be safer than fetch but that's been a whole other challenge. There've been a few suggestions here how to take the impact out of fetch. I like fetch and find it. We'll try that in a few months.
 

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I do hope things go well with your pup and the surgery. Beau did wind up with DJD1 on an elbow but I think from jumping in and out of the truck and various other things as opposed to fetch. I took him to a rehab vet as a precaution (he had no lameness) and she had zero concerns (DJD1 is often a meaningless artifact on an xray).......but I do know more dogs with shoulder elbows problems from jumping in and out of vehicles, too.

Our team actually works a lot with a rehab vet as several have had injuries to CCL and one a carpal injury and he wears a brace..Our next training is actually a class with her on conditioning the canine athlete.

After the surgery, I would develop a relationship with one and work with them off and on long term.
 

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Our oldest is a fetch "nut", due to the way our property is set up we can throw the ball over the garage, so and then let her go to retrieve. It becomes search and fetch. Our other favorite is to stand at the top of our local reservoir, and throw down the hillside. She can see where it lands, and it's a great workout coming back up.
 

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My Newlie is somewhere around 5 or 6 years old and has always been a strong, healthy dog. But he recently had to have surgery for a torn ACL and in my heart, I think it it was playing fetch that caused the injury.

Newlie is all about balls and has never cared much for tug and those kind of things. I have a fairly large back yard (and a weak throwing arm) so I would use a tennis racquet to hit the ball from the front to the back of the yard, from side to side and so on. Just like all the other dogs, Newlie was very intense about fetch and would go after each ball like his life depended on it. Because of the size of my yard, he was always able to build up a good bit of speed and then would stop on a dime when he caught the ball. In retrospect, it really is a wonder he didn't hurt himself before he did.

Newlie is fully recovered now, but I love all the ideas on this thread about alternative ways to play fetch. He still is all about balls, but hopefully these ideas will let him have fun and still be safe.
 
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