Dynamic Dog Case Study: Puka
September 28, 2023
Reactive Dog Walking
The Vet Doesn’t Always Know It All……

I first met Puka when I had be called in to help with his brother Albi’s reactivity and after inital work put in place, we discovered that Puka and Albi were having fights.

The fights were in part down to one or the other warning the other off their human mum or guarding a ball. But once I was working with Puka I could see there were a few red flags that made me suspect he was in some of pain or discomfort.

Puka LITERALLY NEVER stopped moving, he was always wanting to be out in the garden to play with his ball and he would get either of his brothers to join or create enough fuss one of the humans would play with him. Once he brought inside, he would fidget around, never really sitting or lying down either he just couldn’t relax and chill. Also if he was distrubed when asleep, he would start barking and run to guard the nearest food bowl.

I know you’re thinking surely he can’t be in pain if he is always on the go.

But think of it like this, if he was uncomfortable maybe keeping moving was his way of relieving pain, maybe he needed to be exhausted to actually sleep. Maybe sitting or lying down was just sore. You have to ask why is he always on the go, especially when his other two brothers – the same age and same lifestyle – were more than capable of settling and resting.

Also one the first things I could see with him, was that his lower spine was roached, he didn’t have flat straight back. He was also tucking his pelvis under. These are a concern but to be sure they mean something, I needed to check how Puka walked and how he liked use his body.

Dynamic Evidence

I filmed Puka being walked by his mum, it was important that when gathering the evidence the dog is super relaxed, this ensure the dog is using their body how they want – much like we humans do, we slouch an don’t offer perfect posture unless we are being watched.

The videos of Puka walking and trotting really flagged up a number of issues with how Puka was using his body.

Has I had already spotted, Puka has a roached spine at the lumber area, think of it curving upwards instead of being flat. With this he was tucking his pelvis up towards to his stomach, which was in part causing the roaching at the spine. Additionally he showed subtle lameness at this left hind with a hip hike – this means he was hiking up his left leg to keep it off the ground longer than normal as he walked.

Also it was clear to me that Puka was stiff in his hind legs, more obvious in his Left hind as he had minimal extension and flexion in the limb as he walked, also he barely raised it off the ground. He had a Bunny hop gait as he moved in trot, which highlight his Left Hind weakness.

When Puka was stationary, he leaned forward in sit and stand postures, indicating that he was shifting his weight forwards, most likely to remove pressure on his hind limbs. In stand his left hind was not fully weight bearing.

All this was complied in to a report for Puka’s Vet presented along side the video and photographic evidence.

The Vet…

Surprisingly the Vet dismissed the Dynamic Dog Assessment, he simply did not believe that as a Behaviourist I knew what I was talking about. Instead he performed his own 10 min check over of Puka, declaring him physically well, any issues that were raised by his restless behaviour and my dynamic evidence were classed as ‘Well that is just how your dog is

It is IMPOSSIBLE for any GP Vet to check for long term pain in under 20mins, it is also IMPOSSIBLE for a Vet to declare a dog pain free.

Thankfully Puka’s owners requested Xrays, as I had clearly explained next steps required to them, and they also dissagreed with their Vets assessment.


The Xrays were performed, revealing Bi-Lateral Hip Dysplasia and Spondylosis of the lumber spine! The Dynamic Dog Assessment was 100% right with the findings (The GP Vet was wrong).

Unfortantly the Vets advice was to restrict Puka to short lead walks for the rest of his life. Puka was only 2 and use to an active life, this was very bad advice. Next steps making sure Surgey wasn’t required and then looking into plans to slow down the progression of both conditions. Also had in pain management too.

Puka eventually had Stem Cell Therapy with really strong and promising results. He is able to rest during the day, although he still loves to play and walk when allowed. He is now starting to get use to a normal routine in the home with his two brothers now his recovery is over.

What is spondylosis in dogs? Spondylosis is defined as a non-inflammatory, degenerative disease of the vertebral bodies of the spine. New bone growth, in the form of bone spurs or osteophytes, at the endplates of the vertebral body can be severe enough to result in a bony union between two vertebral bodies.

Puka’s Humans had this to say

Her excellence in gait and posture analysis was evident when within seconds of meeting our main trouble maker she identified a roached spine and an abnormal gait indicating orthopaedic issues. These would have resulted in such pain for our boy that his way of coping with it resulted in his hyper activity and challenging of the hierarchy.
She submitted a full gait analysis to our vet who was very sceptical that a behaviourist would be able to identify such issues,however we managed to get imaging. This proved Suzanne totally right.
Our poor boy had bridging spondylosis of the spine and bilateral hip dysplasia. At 2 years old he had the body of a 12yr old dog.

Thanks to Suzanne’s astute observation we’ve saved our boy from years of suffering and given him a great quality of life to look forward to.

If you want help with your dog, reach out to me Contact@edinburghholisticdogs.co.uk

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