If your dog has to start using a wheelchair, you might worry about their social life. Dogs are pack animals. That’s why they’re members of the families that look after them. And it’s why they go crazy when they chase frisbees with your friend’s dog at the dog park.
Don’t worry: your dog can still play with its friends if it has a wheelchair. K9 Carts clients send us regular updates on their patients. We have plenty of photographic and video evidence that wheelchair-bound dogs can have a blast on playdates.
How Do Other Dogs React to a Dog in a Wheelchair?
You will have to be careful if your dog is in a wheelchair. Some dogs don’t like it when they see dogs in wheelchairs—it freaks them out.
“Some dogs do not like the cart—some dogs can be aggressive,” Claire Carver says. Her German Shepherd, Reja, sometimes gets a hostile response from fellow dogs when she’s using her wheelchair.
It’s similar to the response that Reja would get when she was still working as a rescue dog and wearing her reflective vest. Expect a hostile response to be the same as if your dog was wearing a vest or sweater on a cold day.
Carver says a pet owner taking their wheelchair-bound dog in public should be watchful. Just use the same common-sense caution you would whenever your dog makes a new acquaintance: make sure that the other dog isn’t growling, has its hackles up, or making other hostile moves towards your dog.
Dogs in Wheelchairs Get Around
They might have less mobility than other dogs, but dogs in wheelchairs don’t have any trouble getting exercise and playing games. K9 Carts clients have told us that their dogs can play fetch and socialize with other dogs. They just have to watch a little closer, and make sure that the dogs don’t rough house as aggressively as they did before their disability.
Dogs Help Their Packmates in Wheelchairs
Most of the time, your dog will get along fine with the other dogs that they meet in the world. In fact, your dog’s friends might make special accommodation for them. That’s something that Patricia Denys sees with her dog, Andy. Andy’s a six year old Bichon mix. She has other dogs, and the rest of the pack makes sure that Andy’s needs are met.
“They all get it—it’s really interesting,” Denys says. “If we’re going outside or somewhere, the cart comes out first for Andy. The rest of the dogs know that, and they see the day starting. While we him in the cart, they have to wait and get hooked up, but they’re patient.”
Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that Andy is the alpha of his pack—that didn’t change when he started using his wheelchair.
“He’s the leader,” Denys says with a laugh. “He’s a big ham. He’s never been intimidated by other dogs.”
Photo provided by Claire Carver.