How to Avoid Common Puppy Injuries and Accidents

A young pup holds so many future promises but it’s up to us to protect them from getting hurt. (Photo By: Tony J. Peterson)

It’s common to hear people comment on how cute puppies are, with the qualifier that if they weren’t adorable, we wouldn’t keep them. All jokes aside, puppies do earn a lot of leeway by being cute. After all, they are destructive, clumsy, and quite a bit of work to take care of. But they are also full of promise. Promise for a better life just with their presence, but also what their existence means to us as bird hunters.

Young dogs mean a lot to us for what they are, and they hunter they will become. Protecting that future promise is vitally important, even though that might not seem all that difficult. It can be, and if you don’t believe that, have a chat with a veterinarian. Ask him or her what the most common puppy injuries are, and you’ll realize the variety in which everyday life with a young retriever or pointer can go seriously wrong in an instant.

how to avoid common puppy injuries and accidents
Freedom often means an opportunity for injury when it comes to little puppies. This could come from tangling with an older dog or eating something dangerous. (Photo By: Tony J. Peterson)

The Usual Puppy Injuries and Accidents

According to veterinarian Ira McCauley, there are a litany of ways in which a young dog can find itself in trouble. “The issues that are common, are mainly just dumb things. At our clinic, we see a lot of broken legs and broken jaws from puppies that were dropped.” McCauley says. Kids who are unprepared to handle a writhing puppy are the main culprits, but it happens with adults as well. It also happens with tailgates and the three-foot drop to pavement, which brave puppies will occasionally experience.

how to avoid common puppy injuries and accidents
There are plenty of unique ways for a puppy to get injured, but a common one is being dropped by a child who is unprepared to handle a wriggling youngster. (Photo By: Tony J. Peterson)

While gravity is a real threat to young dogs, their willingness to experience the world through their mouths is often worse. “Another thing that is really common,” McCauley says, “is issues related to eating everything under the sun. We see young dogs that have ingested rat poison, sugar-free gum (which contains xylitol), cat litter—just tons of stuff. Even the mundane things, like chewing on a stick the wrong way, can cause real problems.”

He’s absolutely right, and really drives home the point that you can never trust a puppy around anything it could eat. Now, I fully realize that is easier said than done. I’ve got an 11-month-old puppy and twin 10-year-old daughters, so I get daily reminders of things that could be dangerous to my young dog.

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In this way, I’m training my retriever and my daughters to be better in the house, but it’s a constant battle. Just last night, while my wife and I were trying to catch up on the second season of “Ted Lasso,” Sadie brought me a spool of thread, a hair tie, and the top to an Elmer’s glue bottle. This happened despite the fact that I told my girls to close their bedroom door three times.

It’s a work in progress, I guess. And it’s safe to say that my daughters have never paid the emergency vet bill for our dogs—like the time I spent well over a grand to find out my older Lab is just fine with eating a pound of raisins.

The Unusual Puppy Injuries and Accidents

Carrying objects around is a behavior we generally want from our hunting dogs, so it’s something to approach with the right mindset. You don’t want to scold a four-month-old puppy for carrying around some balled-up socks, because you want that natural hold and carry to stick. This necessitates a soft approach while taking one object and replacing it with another.

This behavior is often coupled with chewing, which can be destructive to household items, and also to the dogs themselves. “We see dental issues sometimes from chewing,” McCauley says, “but oftentimes it’s worse. Like if a pup gets going on an electrical cord and then burns its mouth.” This is a nightmare scenario that could result in a house fire, a dead pup, or both.

It’s also one of the many examples of why keeping our young dogs safe is so important. The good news here, is that there are a few ways to do a really good job of that.

Crates & Check Cords for Puppies

A lot of dog owners (although not many hunting dog owners), believe that crates are cruel. They equate them to a prison cell, which is silly when you consider that dogs are den animals. They can easily learn to love crates with a proper introduction right from the get-go. Yet, crate training a puppy is more than just giving them a space that is theirs where they can chill out. It’s also a huge component of safety.

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Puppies that run free are puppies that will get into trouble. They need to earn their freedom, and not just so they won’t chew up your slippers or pee on the carpet. This also keeps them from getting into danger.

The same goes for check cords. The ability to reel in a puppy has training applications, but also serves as safety tool. This is most noticeable when a puppy hits about five months of age and decides that being away from you is more fun than being with you. If you can’t catch a dog at this stage, which is very likely for those of us who aren’t Olympic sprinters, then your dog will be able to get to the danger before you can get to them.

how to avoid common puppy injuries and accidents
Young pups that get into trouble, are often the ones that run away from us to explore the world. A check cord, which allows us to catch them even when they hit their teenage years, is a huge component of keeping them from injuring themselves. (Photo By: Tony J. Peterson)

Roadways, strange dogs that might bite, and a host of other potential dangers are out there waiting for your new recruit. If you don’t mitigate their ability to get to them, you’ll find out how bad they can be.

A better bet, is to acknowledge these dangers that are out there, and keep your puppy safe by doling out tiny bits of controlled freedom as they can handle it. It’s not cruel, it’s responsible. It’ll keep your pup safe, and condition it for a longer, better lifetime of earning their freedom in the house, and in the field.


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