After a surgery, your dog should be kept calm to avoid aggravating the injury site, removing stitches or further injuring a damaged limb. Unfortunately, dogs are not able to rationalise their need to stay calm, and so many become rambunctious once they feel pain in the afflicted area or when the sedative wears off. All dogs behave in different ways after surgery, and it is important to know what makes your dog active or excites your dog so that you know what stimuli to avoid. If you need additional assistance, ask your vet what you can do to keep your dog calm.
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Anticipate the triggers that make your dog active and avoid them. For instance, if you have another dog at home that will rile up the dog who is coming home from surgery, separate them. You may also want to put your dog in a quiet room that will muffle the sounds of the doorbell or other dogs barking if this energises your dog.
If your dog gets excited when you give him food, keep him isolated from his food dish when you refill it. If possible, carry him over to his food dish when it is time to eat to avoid any running or excited activity. You may want to let him eat alone if there are other dogs present to avoid any aggressive or defensive behaviour around food.
Give your dog a toy that she plays with calmly. Chew toys are ideal, as your dog can sit and passively chew one. If your dog tends to get rambunctious around toys, limit her access.
Avoid sudden movements or sounds. Dogs are alert creatures and will respond to any sudden stimulus. Mirror the behaviour you want in your dog by moving about slowly and quietly. If your dog feels that his environment is calm, he will be calm.
Do not leave your pet at home unattended as it is possible she will either chew at the site of the surgery or become active without your presence. Try to stay in the same room as your dog so that you can monitor her activity and intervene if she gets too active.
Keep your dog on your lap or near you while you are sitting if he is small enough. Otherwise, sit with him on the floor. Maintain contact with your dog by petting him, or simply by resting your hand on his head or back. The contact will calm your dog.
Do not yell at your dog if she barks or becomes overly active. Your excitement will cause her to bark or run more. Instead, calmly but firmly hold her down and shush her with a soft voice. Forcing her into a lying position on her side or back will put her into a passive and submissive state, calming her.
Keep your dog in a kennel or small space if he is getting overly active and you find it difficult to control him. The small space will restrict your dog's movement and encourage him to lie down or rest.
Tips and warnings
- Follow all instructions for post-surgery care given to you by your vet. Ask questions if you need advice specific to your dog; you know better how she will act after you get her home, so ask for specific tips if you need them.
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