A lot of people try preparing for their dog's CCL surgery by doing these things:
This preparation is excellent, but it's not enough. Where people go wrong is that purchases sit unopened until they bring their dog home from surgery. If you do this, you'll have no idea which items will work for your dog or not. Trust me, you'll want to know these things before you bring your dog back home from the hospital.
PRACTICE using the items weeks before surgery day. This way if something isn't working you'll have time to order, receive and try something else, and your dog will have time to become acclimated to it. Here are the most important preparations along with the Superstar Tips you need to know.
Get the recuperation station prepared: Put your dog's bed inside the area. Cover wood or tile floors with non-slip mats or interlocking foam tiles. If you're using a crate, put a non-slip rubber backed mat in there along with a dog bed or comforter that won't bunch up around or under the surgical leg. Superstar Tips: Help your dog learn that his recuperation station is a positive place. Give him some time nearby or inside the area with him. Give him a toy to interact with. At first try for short durations less than ten minutes. Leaving your dog alone in the area could create anxiety, so initially stay present and give him praise for being calm. In a few days to a week, try having him in the area without you being right there with him. Stay in the same room and every so often, give him praise or a treat to reward him for being good.
The cone collar: Have him wear it for 5-10 minutes at a time each day before surgery. Superstar Tips: Have treats ready and ask him to do simple tricks while wearing the e-collar such as: giving you his paw, sit/stay, coming to you when called, asking him to speak (bark). The idea is that he'll get used to the sensation of the e-collar and how it feels on him as he moves about. Give him treats when he wears it without pawing at it and when he performs the tricks you ask of him. Don't initially leave him unattended if you've chosen an inflatable collar. Slightly lengthen his regular collar, and thread it through the loops along inner part that goes against his neck. If you don't have him wear his regular collar with the inflatable one, after surgery he could paw at the inflatable one and slip it off. If that happens, he might lick the incision, and that's the last thing you want to happen. If you choose something like the Comfy Cone, you'll want to get your dog used to it as well. It cuts off their peripheral vision, while the inflatable ones don't.
The harness: Get it sized and ready to wear ahead of time. Superstar Tips: Put the harness on him without the long straps attached that he could trip over. Have some treats ready and ask him to follow you around in the house. This is a positive way to help him get used to the sensation of how it feels as he moves about. Then hook up the straps (if your harness or sling has them). Either set a treat on the floor across the room or in someone else's hand who's standing across the room. Hold the harness without lifting his back paws off the ground. Walk at his side as he walks toward his treat. This will help him get used to feeling some pull/tension. Then try lifting the handle or strap, but ONLY enough so the back paws just clear the floor. This will help your dog learn what it feels like to walk as you slightly lift his hind end. With this practice, you'll develop skills to become more coordinated and balanced as you help your dog walk. The final challenge is to have him wear the harness outside to pee and poop. When holding the sling/harness, allow the non-surgical leg to remain on the ground while he pees/poops, but put enough upward pull so that you're supporting his weight.
Ramps: Ramps are best for homes with steps from the house to the yard and/or for people with heavy dogs and vehicles with loading areas that are elevated from the ground. The more stairs you have or the higher your vehicle's loading area is, the longer the ramp you'll need. In situations such as these, buying a short ramp will create too steep an angle for him pre and/or post-op. This could cause your dog pain. Always be by your dog's side to guide him because one slip or fall could be detrimental. Superstar Tips: Set the ramp flat along the floor and have him slowly walk across it to receive a treat from you or another person. I recommend having him leashed so he can't race across it. It would be safest to practice this on a carpeted area to avoid the ramp from slipping. Then practice with treats and the ramp going into your vehicle or up a couple stairs.
Preparing BEFORE surgery day will make things easier for you and your dog. Lots of love and praise during these training sessions will surely help your dog. Good Luck!
If your dog has had surgery and you'd like to add a helpful tip, please leave a comment below. Thank you.