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Clumsy Puppy or Reason for Concern?


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It has been several years since I've had a puppy and wondering if Rylie is exhibiting normal puppy behavior or something I should be concerned about.

Anytime he is chasing a ball or tug toy and running after it, just as he reaches down to grab it he tumbles and flips and slides across the yard a few feet. Sometimes he really rolls and tumbles and even flips headfirst and other times he just falls and stops. He also seems to enjoy it and makes it part of the game but I'm not so sure. I keep most of his play low to the ground so he isn't jumping but just seems to happen when he lowers his head to grab the toy or ball. At first I decided it was just clumsy awkward puppy but he's almost 6 months now and still tumbles. He is quite athletic and energetic and goes really fast after whatever is thrown. He has one tug toy that has sheep skin all over it and he typically grabs it and keeps running but I'm sure it's easy to grab without much effort. 

Anyway, I haven't checked with his vet as like I said was just thinking it was clumsy puppy stages but now I'm not so sure. 

What has been your experience with puppies around his age? He has done this always and I thought he would grow out of it as he became more coordinated with age but it seems to be ongoing.

Any advice or opinions please!

 

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Do ask your vet what they think, but it is possible that Rylie is just running too fast to stop so suddenly.  Does he stumble if he bends to pick something up when he is not going a mile a minute?  I would say he has a problem if he stumbles at any speed, but if it only happens when he is running all out, he just hasn't learned coordination for this combination of moves.  And it may not be his age.  We had a DOG that ran too fast, and the choices she had were to stumble or overrun the object.  She was very funny to watch at lure coursing!

 

Kathy Robbins

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Thanks for your feedback! He never stumbles during normal easier, slower play, it's only when he runs really fast. I'm afraid I'm guilty of getting the play going too fast so I'm definitely going to slow it down with him and give his bones time to grow and close. I keep the play low to the ground, no jumping etc., but I have been letting him play too much like an adult with chasing balls and puller rings as he has so much energy it's the best way to tire him out. We will just slow it down.

I can just imagine the lure coursing!! I would love to do that with Rylie when he's older. I went to a dog camp some years ago and lure coursing was one of the activities we could take part in for fun. My border collie Fleck and my golden retrievers Annie and Oakley loved it and were quite good at it as just a play activity. 

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A 6 month old puppy isn't very coordinated.  Excitement and speed bring this out.  We got Levi when he was 8 months old.  While he was always very accurate when grabbing a ball on the run, it took him over a year to catch a tossed treat reliably.  There was nothing wrong with him, catching small objects just wasn't easy for him and he needed maturity and practice.

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No, 6 month old puppies aren't very coordinated, but at this age you shouldn't be encouraging the kind of all out running that goes along with fetching balls, sticks and Frisbees (which you seem to be aware of). Probably not much you can do to stop it if it's something he's doing on his own, other than attempt to get him to dial it down.

My lurcher loves lure coursing and of course is a natural. The border collie - who loves chasing balls and sticks (no, I don't throw sticks except into the water where he's not going to impale himself on them) - was decidedly unimpressed with chasing a plastic bag. :rolleyes:

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When my dog had a pulled iliopsoas muscle at 15 months of age (due to crazy BC play), the rehab vet suggested that fetch games can be slowed down by throwing into weeds so the dog has to slow down and hunt for the toy. Another exercise is to keep your dog at your side while you throw the toy (again, into high grass or weeds) and then release him after the toy has landed. It is a great training exercise in impulse control and may take a while to achieve that level of impulse control.

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10 hours ago, gcv-border said:

When my dog had a pulled iliopsoas muscle at 15 months of age (due to crazy BC play), the rehab vet suggested that fetch games can be slowed down by throwing into weeds so the dog has to slow down and hunt for the toy. Another exercise is to keep your dog at your side while you throw the toy (again, into high grass or weeds) and then release him after the toy has landed. It is a great training exercise in impulse control and may take a while to achieve that level of impulse control.

That's a great idea and also a great excuse to do less yard work!! lol I'll start doing that when we go to the park!

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I have altered our play some so that Rylie is running a lot slower and not tumbling nearly as much. He loves tug toys and instead of throwing toys I will tempt him with the tug toy and as he runs to get it while really close to me, I just toss it a little bit and he grabs it as he's running and then doesn't need to reach down for it and never gets much speed going. Thanks everyone for your input and good reminder for me to slow things down!

 

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