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Can dogs fake a limp?

Introduction

He had his leg shaved a month ago. Although it was a minor skin injury that required stitches, the vet was positive there were no injuries to the ligaments and tendons. The dog was given a fetching bandage after surgery to keep the wound clean and protect the sutures. As he walked on his three legs, he tugged at your heartstrings. He held onto his bandaged paw.

The wound began to heal over the next few days, but the dog continued to hold his leg. It was beginning to bother you. The dog still limped after the bandage was removed. What is the matter? You were worried so you took him to the vet. He did a complete physical and found nothing. He didn’t wiggle, cry or refuse to be examined… but he still limped. The vet was still puzzled about the cause. The vet was unsure if there was any undiagnosed bone damage or if the dog has a limp.

Signs a Dog is Faking a Limp

A limp is the most obvious sign. It is important to determine if the lameness is due to pain, a mechanical problem to the leg, or if it is an issue with your brain. You should approach the problem in a rational way when trying to separate the wood from the tree.

Consider whether the dog has suffered an injury to their leg. It’s better to assume that the dog is hurting and have it treated rather than ignore a real problem. A vet visit is recommended if the dog has suffered a knock or sprain. Professionals can examine the leg and look for signs of heat, swelling, redness or pain.

Take into account the age of your dog. An older dog might have arthritis or another condition that causes them to walk slowly.

Also, consider when your dog limps. Do they limp more at specific times of the day or are they worse? Do they always limp on the same side? While it is normal for dogs to have lameness shift from one leg to the other, they might be looking at you with puppy-dog eyes, holding up a different frontpaw every time.

History of dogs faking a limp

Dogs aren’t devious as such, they just like our attention! This goes deep to the core of why dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ in that it’s their loyalty, devotion, and appreciation of our attention which we, in turn, find so rewarding. When a dog fakes a limp, this isn’t about getting out of going for a walk in the wet, so much as loving our reaction when we see our dog is hurt.

It is us who train a dog not to limp, but the dog that fakes it. We are all to blame.

Science of Dogs Faux a Limp

This comes down to how dogs learn and how we train theme. Reward-based training is a well respected and recognized training method. This works by praising the dog when they do something well, such as “Sit” on cue or “Stay” when told. The dog learns that by doing as asked, they get a tasty treat. They then work that the easiest way to get you to give a treat is by behaving well.

Fake limps are the same psychology. This could have all started with a real injury, like the one our dog received in his introduction with a cut leg. His owners sat and admired the bandaged leg while the dog enjoyed it. He realized that he could get more attention from his pet parents by lifting the paw and using those puppy-dog eyes.

The owner taught the dog how to walk by rewarding it with attention.

Image by Diana from Pixabay

How to train a dog to fake a limp

Begin by paying attention to your dog and every time they lift a paw off of the ground, you should say “Yes!” Give them a reward. Repeat this each time they raise their paw. They will soon see this as a positive thing and will try to lift the paw to find out what happens. You can seize the moment and say “Yes!” You can be super-pleased and give them a treat.

When the dog is accustomed to putting their paws up, you can start to ignore them and make it more prominent. Next, reward them by saying “Yes”. This encourages them put in more effort and exaggerate their actions. Next, they will add a cue word to the action of raising the leg. They will soon learn how to behave when they hear the cue.

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