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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Teaching the Commands Sit and Down
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Member Since:
14 July 2011
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28 July 2011 - 5:08 am
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Hi everyone.  Well Chester is two weeks post-amputation (right hind leg) and is doing great. His sutures come out tomorrow!!  Just a quick history...we adopted Chester (he is a Terrier mix and approx. 10 months old) from the SPCA. He was taken away from a family when a complaint was made that he was walking around with a broken leg.  The previous owners (I don't consider them parents) just ignored the injury and don't even know how it happened. Because of the length of time between his injury and him being removed from the house, the leg did not heal properly and amputation was the best thing for him.  So we adopted him, got his surgery and we love him to pieces. We have started training on his name, related a leash to being outside, etc. We honestly don't think he was ever trained so we are starting from scratch.  Okay, now for my question...Chester now lies on his incision and I have seem him sit outside on the grass. Is it common to teach a tripawd to sit or should it just be a down command? Ahh..the joys of training a puppy 🙂


I would welcome all advice and stories.  He now goes up stairs, but will not come down from the second floor to the first. I have ordered the Ruffwear harness so I can assist him with this and to better train walking on a leash. When we walk, as soon as he sees grass he wants to lie down.  Like I said, I don't think he was ever walked. But he does stay by my side and will follow...I just walk around the driveway to get him used to the leash, etc.

Okay babbled long enough!  Have an awesome day!


Chester's Mom

28 July 2011 - 7:28 am
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It isn't as much a question of whether a rear amp can sit, but more a consideration of what that repeated motion will mean over time.

Chester is a young dog, but as a Tripawd his joints & spine will be stressed more than a quadpaw over the years. I think it's OK to teach the sits and downs, but in short sessions, and not relying on them as a primary behaviors. You might consider teaching stand, stay and wait as your go-to commands.

Because a young dog can perform behaviors or run, twist and jump, doesn't mean they should. I think you have to look at where Chester is going to be as an adult and ultimately a senior dog and limit the wear and tear on his body where you can. Shorter sessions of intense activity, limiting repetitive movements (that you ask for, what he does on his own is fine), etc

It is usually more difficult for a rear amp to go up stairs, rather than down, Going up also puts more stress on their might want to teach him to wait at the bottom for some help up.. Do you think he just never learned how to walk down stairs in his previous life? It may just be a puppy lesson not learned. My dog is a rear amp, 13, on the lazy side, with arthritis & runs down 27 stairs without help. 

He may be tired on his walks. He is using more energy on three legs, especially this early. He also may not really understand the leash concept yet.....this all can add to his fatigue. Maybe you can try more frequent, shorter walks for now. You may find the Ruff Wear harness , like any harness with a D-ring on the top, may encourage pulling on the leash. You might try a Sensation or Sensible (same manufacturer, different fabrics/pricepoints). Most of the other no-pull harnesses on the market slip & are not nearly as effective.

My dog laid on her amputation side from the night of surgery and quickly learned how to get up from that side.

He's adorable...and I love his name!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 July 2011 - 8:00 am
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Hey Chester & Family, thanks for joining us! Chester, you are adorable!

I agree with littlemanjake (Isabelle)'s advice; start in very small increments. And I especially agree with

Because a young dog can perform behaviors or run, twist and jump, doesn't mean they should.

Two weeks out of surgery is not a long time. Anytime a dog, tripawd or quadpawd, sits down on walks is generally a sign that they are pooped out and have overdone it. Shorten your walks down to 5 to 10 minutes and slowly work your way up from there to see what he can handle. Some rehab therapists recommend walks no longer than 20 minutes. When it comes to Tripawds, we generally say take shorter walks more often.

I wouldn't recommend skipping any part of basic puppy training until Chester show signs that it's uncomfortable for him. Training a Tripawd with commands is generally the same as training a quadpawd, just try things to see what works. Learning to sit is so important to get a dog to learn the stay command, as is learning the down command. For some bigger dogs sitting is more of a challenge but Chester's size shouldn't be too much of a hinderance.

We have a crazy German Shepherd, Wyatt Ray , the Tripawds spokesdog, who came from a similar situation as Chester (stupid humans responsible for his amputated leg). Because he needed discipline very badly (and still does), we proceeded with training as we would a quadpawd, only being more vigilant about his exhaustion levels. So far so good.  He's still a challenge but the training sessions with traditional lessons have been a great benefit to him.

Thanks for adopting your special guy and for joining us here! We can't wait to follow along with his adventures.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

28 July 2011 - 9:15 am
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Mastering the stay command is not dependent on the position the dog is in prior to "staying". It should always be taught independently of any other behaviors. A dog can be in any position prior to being asked to stay. You particularly don't want to teach it only in association with another specific behavior, such as sit or down. If, at some point you find yourself separated from your dog and his survival depends on his staying put ( if, for example, he runs across a street) you want to be able to respond to the stay command in whatever position he is in. Dogs do not automatically generalize and need to be taught commands in different environments, circumstances, positions and in the face of distractions.

It isn't a matter of him being able to get into any position, but the repetitive up & down movement that takes a toll over time. He will learn all of these behaviors quickly, but it will be up to you to monitor how they are illicited during his lifetime. Some careful protection early, may save you both the pain and expense of arthritis later in life.

A large, often missing piece, of training is attention to the cerebral development. Puzzle type games which require problem solving, nose work, etc can go along way in fostering the appropriate skill sets all dogs need.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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28 July 2011 - 12:16 pm
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Glad to hear the amputation healing is going well for Chester!  Both my husband and I have fallen in love with Chester!  Before our terrier, we actually said when looking for a shelter dog, "anything but a terrier"!  ....until we got one!  We only got him because he was the right size and was  submissive to our 3 legged Comet. (that didn't last long) He's the smartest dog, I've ever had!  Maybe too smart because he doesn't do dumb dog tricks (his  words, not mine)! 


I digress...

Comet was under 40lbs and I got her as a puppy around 6 months or so old.  She came with a deformed front leg (horrific hoarder people had her and 22 other dogs - Animal Control took them all.  She was one of few that survived).  That was in 1999 and for some odd reason, I never got on the internet to look up how to take care of a 3 legged dog. (until 2009 and came here) I played it by ear. 

Right or wrong, I treated her as a normal dog on activities.  My biggest concern was her deformed front leg getting broken or caught on something. Outside of that, I let her do what she wanted and could.  If she got tired on walks, we'd carry her.  (because we could)  I did find that using a flexi leash was the best way to go because she needed  the ability to get her momentum going on hopping.  In hindsight I wished I used a halter and not a collar.  She in all her 12 years with me, never walked/hopped slow - she hopped fast. 

Comet learned commands and even tricks.  Sitting/staying was a breeze.  She knew how to "roll over" also.  In her younger days, she was the best ball player I've ever had!  She'd run to her spot, turn around, wait and catch the ball!  She loved it low and fast!  Sometimes it would knock her on butt when she caught the ball - but she caught it!  And she'd never stop playing on a bad catch!

As far as stairs, we have a 2 story house - so she didn't have much choice.  Toward the last year of her life - we did carry her up about 50% of time.  She'd reward us with a kiss.  But coming down them, she did it every day even to the day she died.  I think you just have to teach it, like Isabelle's mom said.  Stairs are scary for puppies in general.   I'd try treats, one stair at a time until Chester figures it out.  And just keep rewarding him for a while until his fears of them are gone.  Distract something scary with a treat - it usually works every time!

As Isabelle's mom said above, be a bit cautious on what your tripawd can and can't do now.  I didn't.  And Comet did blow out her back knees but she was 6 and 8 years old when it happened.  I blame it on her twirling on her back legs all the time in which I never stopped.  But honestly, I love the memories of her being a puppy and a young dog just acting like a regular dog and until the knee surgeries, I wasn't overly cautious of what she did.  Afterwards, I was nutty and I don't recommend that either!   

Anything in life comes with let Chester have fun and be a puppy!








Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

28 July 2011 - 1:35 pm
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Flexi leads are not the best choice for any training exercise. They do not teach leash walking, as they allow a dog to do as he pleases. It is impossible for the handler to have any control if needed, potentially putting your dog at risk. They can be particularly dangerous (especially the line type frequently used for smaller dogs) for a young, rear amp, who hasn't yet developed any leash manners. It is extremely easy for the excess line to get tangled on the remaining back leg & cause serious injury.

Aside from all of the dangers these leads carry in normal situations, allowing your Tripawd (or quadpaw) to interact with other dogs, when any of them are on a flexi lead is an accident waiting to happen.

If you have a mature, dog, with reliable manners, they can work if the handler is diligent, but be sure to use the tape type.

Member Since:
14 July 2011
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29 July 2011 - 4:09 am
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Thanks everyone for the great advice!  I am keeping his walks very short, we just cross the side street and come back and then we go into the backyard and I take him off his leash.  I find that when our neighbour's dog comes out, Chester just perks right up and becomes more playful.  I love watching it. I never even thought that Chester might not have ever been trained about going down stairs. Great idea with treats, etc. I will try that.  He does go down the three steps at our side door but I think it is the depth of the stairs from 2nd floor to 1st.  But mommy will be patient and he will get it 🙂  We are introducing him to the ball and what it is and he loves his chew rope as well as all the cat toys (ha ha). 

Funny, I think the first command he has learned over the last two weeks is "leave it".  We hated the cone and so did he, so we used an airline pillow that wraps around your neck.  He loved that because he actually would use it as a pillow to fall asleep.  Well every time he would go for his incision, we would use the "leave it" command and it seems to be working.

Today is a big day...the sutures come out and maybe I can get some sleep because everytime I would hear a "licking noise" I would wake up and tell him to leave it.  Last night, I heard the noise and looked over the side of the bed to tell him to leave it and I got the look of "what, I am not doing anything". It turned out to be our cat on the bed cleaning himself. 😉

Have a great day everyone!  I will keep you posted on Chester's progress and I love reading about everyone's Tripawds. We are so honoured to be part of this great group!!


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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29 July 2011 - 12:55 pm
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Nothing worse than blaming a Tripawd Dawg for something the kitty is doing! 😉 Another Monkeykitty strikes again!

Hope today's vet visit was uneventful!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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