JEANETTE: I see a lot of questions on social media about what distances a puppy can walk, when they can start pulling or carrying a backpack, or whether they should walk on stairs or not. Today’s guest has worked with physical therapy for 20 years, and she can help find answers to these questions. Line Østerhagen, welcome.
LINE: Thank you.
JEANETTE: Your goal is to make life better for dogs by spreading knowledge about how their bodies are working and how we can take care of them in the best way possible. Therefore, you have been working on a book for the past year.
LINE: Yes, during 20 years of work and contact with dog owners, I found out that many courses and many places where they teach normal dog training, they actually don’t teach training physiology. So there is a lot of myths and wrong information out there, and I wanted to create a book with all the things that I think are missing from all the ordinary courses and all the important knowledge to all the dog owners so they can take good care of the body of their dog.
My book is about training exercise, but also about making a well-balanced program for the dog, how to train strength, endurance, and core muscles, and also how to put all these training methods together. But it’s also about how to train a dog according to their age, because there are certain practices that you need to take care of when maybe you’re training a puppy or training a grown dog. But it’s also a little bit about rehabilitation, harness, and how to actually do an easy physical checkup routine for your own dog and a little bit of stretching and massage. I think my book can help a lot of dog owners out there.
JEANETTE: The beginning of the dog’s life is very important. As a puppy, how do you prepare it for an active life?
LINE: There are so many misunderstandings, so many myths. Many people say that you have to keep the puppy quiet, don’t do any physical activities, be careful about exaggerating their training. But actually, it’s more like if you don’t do any exercises with your puppy, it will not be prepared for the exercise it’s going to do later in life.
In the beginning, when a puppy is born, it is really important that we let the puppy experience a lot of different stuff and a lot of different stimulation to the body because the body will develop to manage the things that we tell it it has to manage. And if you don’t tell it to manage anything, the puppy might easily get injured.
Actually, in the United States, in the military, they start stimulating the puppies when they are 10 weeks old. They have had quite good results with that. I’m not saying that you should exaggerate. You shouldn’t do anything that the puppy doesn’t actually manage to do by itself. But the puppy has to be in activity. You are not going to stop the puppy from any normal activities. For example, walking on stairs. Puppies can easily walk on stairs. It’s actually just if the puppy is so small that it cannot manage the stairs that you might wait a little bit with it. But if you make small stairs, even a small puppy will manage to do that.
So when they’re old enough to manage it all by themselves, they can do anything. You shouldn’t stop the puppy from anything. But I recommend that you don’t have a tired puppy. If you’re walking, for example, in the woods, you should notice if the puppy is tired. Maybe you should take a break. But the puppy should be in activity.
Of course, as it grows, it should be in more and more activity, and you should present to it more and more different kinds of stuff.
JEANETTE: Does this include jumping, different surfaces, and everything?
LINE: Yes. Surfaces are really important to teach the body how to control itself on different surfaces. Also, of course, mentally so that a puppy is not afraid of an