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Behavioural benefits of dog hydrotherapy

Behaviour Tags: hydrotherapy

Small dogHydrotherapy programmes have seen widespread popularity and increased participation in recent years. This has been driven largely by owners seeking the physical benefits it offers to dogs, both in recovering from injuries and the more general fitness benefits such as weight loss and cardiovascular fitness.

Perhaps less well publicised are the behavioural benefits that can be offered to dogs through hydrotherapy programmes. Despite being likely to be hugely beneficial to both you and your dog’s quality of life, often these mental benefits are not considered. In this article, we will look at some of these benefits and how they can contribute to your dog’s happiness, quality of life and their all round behaviour.

Pain can be a major source of behavioural issues in some dogs. Those dogs in pain can behave in an aggressive way as this is often their only way of communicating their discomfort. Aggression to other dogs on walks is a common indicator of this as the dog in pain protects itself from being bounced on by another. If it’s an injury that is causing them distress then hydrotherapy programmes can be a great help. The warm pool in which sessions are undertaken works to relax muscles and joints. The exercises carried out help to strengthen injured areas by improving the range of movement in joints and building muscle tissue around weakened areas, reducing pain in the long term.

Boredom can lead to a whole host of different behavioural problems. Just like us, dogs need a source of entertainment to help break up their days, and sometimes they might find this fun by acting up around the house. Swimming is a great way to remedy this boredom and ensure your dog is getting the stimulation and fun that they need whilst also contributing to their overall health.

Some breeds of dog, such as the Jack Russell and Golden Retriever in particular, naturally have a lot of energy. If they do not get the chance to regularly exercise then they may become hyperactive around the house, jumping on furniture and causing a mess. Swimming is a great activity for dogs that fall into this category. This high intensity activity provides dogs with the stimulation they require and promises to reduce their hyperactivity by channelling this energy into a controlled activity.

Older or injured dogs can often become frustrated and depressed as tasks they once performed with ease like going on walks or simply getting onto the sofa can begin to feel like a real challenge. This can result in behavioural issues. Our programmes are individually designed to help rehabilitate injured dogs and gradually build up their fitness levels so they can get back to enjoying the tasks they once performed easily.

If you think your dog’s behaviour might be caused by any of the above factors, then hydrotherapy might be a great solution. For some more information on the hydrotherapy process, you can watch our video here or if you’d like some more information on behavioural problems in dogs, please read our article on dog behaviour here.

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed