When they’re in pain

The woods are still black and covered in frost when I take my dogs out in the mornings… winter is not a trainer’s best friend! After a long walk in the woods, I let them romp and play in the field before heading home. Out of the darkness I hear my young dog, Monty, scream for a good ten seconds. Many people confuse surprise yelps and pain screams when it comes to dogs. If we correct our dog for something they did wrong and they make a sound, even if we didn’t touch them or hurt them in any way, it stems from surprise, not pain. The sound dogs make when they are in pain is high-pitched and long.

First of all, I did notice that when the yipping started, all of my dogs’ first reactions was to run to me which I very much appreciated. That proves that they trust me and our relationship is strong. Holding his left front leg up close to his body, Monty was dramatically limping towards me. Seeing the angle at which he was holding his leg, it really did look like he broke or sprained it. He couldn’t even rest it on the floor. He’s fine, but I wanted to talk to you guys about: what do you do when your animal gets hurt??

Many times we might not see what caused it. The most important thing to remember, is that even the sweetest, trusting dog who you’ve had since he was a puppy, could lash out in times of pain and fear.

  • If your animal is very hurt, keep your face far away from theirs, and see if you can wrap something firmly but not tightly around their muzzle (as long as they’re not vomitting) to prevent any bites.
  • Even though it’s difficult, stay calm.
  • Move slowly but confidently.
  • Talk reassuringly to them but not like you feel sorry for them or using any words you would during training like “good” or something. If you feel the need to speak, then tell them they’ll be alright. My voice caused Monty to wag his tail and come out of his fear.
  • Always have your vet’s number saved on your phone so that if the injury is bad, you can call them right away.
  • At first, as you’re assessing, crouch in a way so that, if your animal does lash out, you can get away quickly.
  • If it is a leg wound, slowly (with a very open and soft hand) touch up and down a few times, always increasing the pressure. Then you can assess if it is broken (you will notice that right away), or if they stepped in something or if it might be a bit sprained.


Usually, it seems much worse than it is. Two minutes later Monty was walking next to me. Well, at first I wanted to carry him home so that he wouldn’t put too much pressure on it right away, but… okay, fine, I got tired and put him down for a second and he just started slowly walking next to me… My heroic moment was short lived.

Many times, depending on the situation, especially leg injuries or scuffs with other dogs, if we give them a minute or so to adjust, they will recover very quickly.

When was a time your animal got hurt? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!


Unknown Photographer I own no rights to this photo

Unknown Photographer
I own no rights to this photo

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