Dynamic Dog Case Study Katja
January 06, 2023
Reactive Dog Walking

It wasn’t a dislocating knee but something else entirely

Katja is a pocket rocket Foreign Rescue dog who I met in Nov 2021 initially because she was reactive to visitors and reactive to dogs and some people on walks. 

Whenever visitors arrived at her home Katja would bark and charge at their ankles, she kindly demonstrated that to me when I first met her too. Once visitors were inside she was on edge barking at movement or noise made by the guests. Katja’s humans knew they couldn’t continue with this and really needed support for it. 

Behaviour Plan 

As it was coming up to Christmas it was important to get something in place to help with Visitors. I gave them my Visitor Protocol, a way for Katja to find some predictability and calm whenever the doorbell went. We also gave Katja some puzzles to do when visitors were settled and added in games the Visitors could play with Katja once she was happy. 

We added strategies for walks, teaching Katja calm associations for seeing triggers. This isn’t always easy but her humans were on the ball and worked really hard. We were able to add in recall training so Katja could enjoy freedom on a long line even when triggers were nearby. 

Katja Along with her human’s worked hard and I saw the results on my last visit, although Katja still had a wee bark my ankles were safe. Visitor Reactivity is a long road of change and is hard to master when Visitors aren’t common, but these guys proved it can be done. 

Did you know she hops when she walks?

We took Katja on different walks so I support her humans with calm association training as well as go over how to handle a reactive outburst in real time with them. She did amazing and was able to walk past dogs near her home which was where she was more reactive. 

However she was becoming a little more unpredictable with reactivity, some days she was grand, able to listen to her humans and other days where she kicked off as soon as she saw a dog. We hit a plateau with her training.

My behaviourist brain turned to the idea that pain maybe influencing Katja’s behaviours. 

Over the course of these walks I asked about Katja’s hopping as she walked. More often than not it looked like her back leg was hopping or skipping, turns out Katja had previously been diagnosed with Luxating Patella aka dislocating knee after her humans pointed out to their vet what she was doing. All I could think was Ouch, but the Vet had advised it was common in small dogs and was nothing to worry about. 

Unfortunately that Vet was wrong on many levels. While Luxating Patellas are common they are not normal. There are different grades of severity and no one can say a dog doesn’t feel pain even with slight dislocation.

katja 3 1
katja 3 1

Dynamic Dog Assessment

Also what came to light as I watched Katja move and as I prodded for more information around her luxating patella was that no one was entirely sure which knee was affected. She actually hopped on both back legs but it was more pronounced on one side. 

So I suggested that we do a Dynamic Dog Assessment to make sure we get evidence of everything Katja was doing with her body. Also Katja was not a fan of the Vets and there would be no way a Vet could correctly assess her.

Katja’s humans were tasked with getting me particular videos and photos for me to analyse so I could correctly assess her postures and gaits, which not so easy when you have a small dog! 

The Assessment results

My analysis highlighted abnormalities in Katja’s movement and conformation. Katja stands with both knees turned out which is known as cow-hocked but she also moved like this, which lead to her moving her back legs inwards instead of straight as she moved. 

As her back left leg was intermittently lame and she was keeping it off the ground longer than was normal as she walked. Interestingly Katja couldn’t maintain a normal trot gait, she would start bunny hopping and keep doing it with her Left back leg being lame. Katja didn’t seem to fully extend her back legs either. 

Whenever Katja went downstairs her Left back leg wouldn’t be fully weight bearing. She also tended to move her body weight forward in sit – this help takes the weight off her lower back and back legs. 

I completed her in depth report complete with Video and photographic Evidence, then sent it to her Vets so they could investigate further. 

Chronic Pain in dogs doesn’t get expressed by whines and cries. It gets expressed via behaviour changes. This means a limited Vet exam will not provide accurate feedback on pain. 


Katja’s Vet moved straight to X-rays! They showed mild hip dysplasia and arthritis in her hips. Her hips also sounded crunchy when the Vet manipulated them. The X-rays also revealed Katja’s knees were 100% normal, no luxating patella at all. 

Katja is on pain relief, although the vet is still trying to find the right combination that is effective for Katja. She will be attending Physio to ensure her muscles and joints are as strong as they can be. This will be a long term plan to slow down the progression of both the Dysplasia and Arthritis as there is no cure for these. 

Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a condition that affects joints and causes them to become swollen and painful. A joint with arthritis has an uneven and worn surface, which means that instead of gliding, the bone surfaces rub against each other, causing swelling and pain.

Over time, arthritic joints become gradually thickened and stiff because and they start to produce new bone that isn’t needed. The extra bone causes more pain when your dog moves around.

Katja’s humans say 

“(We’re) Glad to have some answers and know that we’re not going insane thinking her behaviour has changed! 

They did say her knees were totally fine which is a relief too. 

Thank you again for all your help and support ❤ as I’ve always said, you’re worth every single penny and more!!”

If you like to find out more information about how a Dynamic Dog Assessment can help you and your dog CLICK HERE to book a call with me.

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