February 27, 2011

What Can You Do To Keep A Puppy From Playing When He Has A Broken Paw?

It has been a very challenging week this week with having a six month old deaf Boxer puppy that is literally full of energy but can't play because of his leg injury. On February 23, 2011 my sweet puppy Nitro broke his toe playing in the back yard. Read broken toe story here and see x-rays. I also think it is a blessing that we had the good sense to have Nitro in training all these weeks. Since he is a level four in training he follows direction and commands very well (PTL!). I think we came up with some creative ideas to keep him occupied. Here are some of the steps we have taken to keep Nitro somewhat sane through this tuff healing process.

1. We set up a big play pen area in the middle of the living room covered with blankets and pillows. We call it the UFC Puppy Octagon playpen. It helps him stay right in the middle of our daily routines and activities.

2. We purchased a very large red rubber Treat Kong so we can feed him his meals through the Kong (keeps him from getting bored). It actually takes him about 20 to 30 minutes to eat his meal from the Kong.

3. We purchased some very large rawhide bones that are two big for him to chew any large pieces off. This way it keeps him interested in the bone for some time (but no danger of a big piece ending up in his belly). I also will rub peanut butter on the rawhide so he is doing more licking then chewing. This also keeps him for feeling the need to lick his leg all the time (redirecting his attention to the bone).

4. We purchased a smaller Kong and line it with peanut butter and kibble. This keeps him busy for 20 minutes or so and he is also getting some healthy protein.

5. I took a horse lead rope and tied toys all over it to dangle it over into his UFC pen. He loves playing with it and it gives me full control of how active he gets.

6. We let our little dog Tallulah go in and play with him but they both have to maintain a down position. I also join them in the pen and referee to make sure no one gets out of control.

7. This one is very important. Every morning I have him go in the car with me when I run my errands (usually takes us about two hours of running around). He is usually starting to go to sleep in the car on the way home.

8. We are still doing short training sessions for example like sit, stay, and lay down while he is in his "UFC
Puppy" enclosure.

9. We take him outside to lay around in the sunshine on our back deck so he doesn't feel so home bound.

10. Since Nitro has also had two really bad allergic reactions over this time period (he is allergic to black rubber mats) we have had to have him on Benadryl for hives and reduce the swelling in his face. We asked the docter if it would be okay to continue with the Children's Benadryl twice a day to keep him calm. The vet gave us full approval and said many of her patients are on Benadryl full time. I only give Benadryl to Nitro if he is having a really bad day. The other day he was biting and barking (he never bites and barks) so he got one in the morning and one at 8pm. This actually takes the edge off Nitro's intense energy level so he isn't so hyper. Some folks might not agree with this treatment but it is about keeping the puppy safe and calm so he doesn't injure the bone again.
We are all doing very well so far considering how challenging it can be to keep a 6 month old Boxer puppy calm. Wish us luck!

Below are some photos of our Petsmart trip on Saturday. Nitro laid in the buggy and just chilled out (and got a lot of attention from customers in the store) while we spent another $65 on treats and toys to keep him occupied. The photos below are of our Petsmart trip and Nitro in the car on the ride home. When we finally did get home Nitro was exhausted. Here are some photos of him napping in his new UFC Puppy Playpen.

 Photo of Nitro in the back seat of the car on the way to Petsmart - notice his new leopard sock splint boot cover with a pink boot? It has a rubber soal on the bottom so he doesn't slip - So cute!

 Nitro totally "chillin" in the Petsmart cart. It really was the perfect size for him to be cruising around in.

Nitro in the car riding home after our Petsmart adventure.

You can see in this shot he is starting to get tired in the back seat of the car. Check out those cool leopard socks and pink dog bootie...what a fashionista!

The minute we got home from shopping Nitro totally passed out in his new "UFC Puppy Octagon" playpen.

Here you can see the plush inside of his UFC Ogtagon puppy playpen.

Here is a photo of our UFC (Ultimate Fighting Champion) Puppy Octagon playpen. For all you UFC fans, you know what I am talking about. The whole unit is one of the fold up wire travel enclosures.This not only provides a safe place for Nitro to stay in the middle of our daily activities, but also keeps his leg safe from being injured (padded by the pillows). As an added bonus the blankets that cover all sides of the cage visually block his view of what our other three dogs are up to. So basically these blankets keep Nitro from getting to excited. Since Nitro is deaf, he doesn't react to different sounds like our other dogs do. What I discovered is once his "dogs eye view" is blocked he can't react to thier reaction to outside stimulus such as the UPS driver coming up the driveway. The pillows make it very comfortable for Chris and I to go in and hang out with him when he gets restless or just wants to play.

*** Update on Nitro 3-1-2011: We missed a really close call yesterday. We had an appointment at our local Vet to have laser light therapy on Nitro's paw. Since Nitro was not putting any weight on his splint, we insisted that his splint be removed just to see if there was anything else going on under all the bandages. As soon as the Vet started to unwrap everything, there was a horrible smell and what looked like drainage all over the gauze. How could there be any kind of drainage when there was no open wound? Well the splint had twisted thereby rubbing the skin raw underneath. We caught it just in the nick of time. We now have a soft wrap on Nitro's leg and paw and he is also on antibiotics this week. I should have caught it sooner because he was being so good (not normal for a 6 month old boxer puppy who is confined). Today he was a crazy puppy and back to his old self again. He wanted to play with the other dogs so bad! I had to take him into town twice today to run my errands just to keep him occupied. We did mini training sessions everywhere we went today so now he is starting to settle down. We have another laser light therapy treatment on Friday in which we will have the Vet unwrap everything all over again and take a look at his skin. He has been such a trooper.

***Update - See our March 22, 2011 update on Nitro's paw here

Oh, by the way, God Bless all you moms out there. I don't know how you do it with small children! Happy Tails! Lexi, Christina, Nitro, Bailey and Tallulah


  1. Wow you're really doing a great job taking care of nitro. Really some good ideas.

    Actually my mom person & I think that this would be a great guest post on Pet Blogs United.

    If you would allow us to re-post it, drop us a note at PBU at comcast dot net.

    Nubbin wiggles,

  2. We have used kongs with peanut butter in them for years and it truly occupies a dog for a long period of time. We break up some small doggie biscuits and stick them into the kong along with the peanut butter... makes it more of a challenge to get EVERYTHING out of the kong.. Great ideas you are using to keep him from running around. Must be a HUGE challenge for you.


  3. I like Nitro's leopard bandages. If one has to have bandages, why not leopard? I know it must be so difficult dealing with his injury, but every day that passes is one day closer to healing. Hang in there!

  4. He has really been through it! I'm so glad you watched him closely and noticed something was wrong. That could have been much worse I would imagine. Please give Nitro a big hug for me. Sending healing thoughts your way!

  5. Hi - Thanks for the detailed post. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to keep my one year old husky mix occupied, and I can't even imagine how hard it would be to deal with an injured paw to boot. BTW - I love the octagon!