Is Your Dog Being a PAIN?

I can barely concentrate long enough to write this blog, as I’m in serious pain from a root canal. Not just any root canal, but one where the dentist had to undo a previous dentist’s attempt to fill the canals all the way down, and then refill them. (Apparently, when your canals are shaped like candy canes, this presents a challenge.) So naturally, the topic of today’s blog is pain.

I’ve heard stories over the years from friends who are involved in sports such as agility, where the common theme is that their dog just couldn’t perform at a certain competition or when trying to do a specific obstacle like a jump during practice. Fortunately, these friends were wise enough to realize that something might be ailing the dog physically, and made vet visits to confirm their suspicions. But I also have seen owners who want their dogs to do something—whether it’s performing a task in a competition sport or doing something as simple as sitting—and when the dog refuses, it never crosses their mind that the dog might be in pain.

Being in physical pain is enough to make a dog “disobey” as some perceive it. This can be especially difficult during training sessions where the owner is trying to teach the dog something new. Remember when I said I could barely concentrate long enough to write this blog? If a dog is in pain, his ability to concentrate is impaired. So now we have physical pain and an inability to concentrate. If the owner isn’t aware of the problem, this scenario can easily add up to one frustrated owner, which could even end up in punishment for the dog.

I’m not suggesting that whenever a dog doesn’t comply or understand what you’re trying to teach, that pain is at the root of it. I am saying that all other things being equal, it’s a good idea to see whether there is something preventing the dog, mentally, emotionally, or physically from being able to perform as you’d like. In other words, your dog isn’t being a pain, he’s having one, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

12 Responses to Is Your Dog Being a PAIN?

  1. stacey says:

    So true! And often, even if you go to the vet, you’ll be told there’s nothing wrong, and this is when a canine massage therapist can help. Dog massagers know how to uncover sprains, strains, muscle knots and trigger points that your vet may miss. (and they won’t show up on an xray either) A trained pair of hands will find things that could be causing your dog pain, and then can work on fixing them and advising you of home care. Check out to learn more about dog massage and what it can do!

  2. Steve Shaffer says:

    Helps to learn to read your dog, we often can tell a lot from their expression, action, posture, etc. Bet hubby came home and took one look and knew you were hurtin’. Same thing.

    • wildewmn says:

      Hah! Strange but true, hubby had a root canal that morning. I think we could both tell we were in pain. 😉 But yes, definitely the same thing, see my reply to dogstwentyfourseven.

  3. Sam Tatters says:

    A well-timed post, as far as I’m concerned.

    Inka has lived with me for almost a year now, and still won’t jump into the car – though the sofa, bed, and agility jumps are no problem for him. I first attributed this to his travel anxiety, but that has improved about 95%.

    Last night, using a lure of dried lung, I had him jump into the car, for only the third time in twelve months. Later in the evening, I thought we would practice his “puppy positions”; sit and stand weren’t a problem, but he ‘refused’ his down cue, so I lured him a couple of times as a reminder but then he stopped following that. Looks like that thought in the back of my head about having his hips x-rayed is going to be put into action after all 🙂

    • wildewmn says:

      I’m so glad to hear that the post spurred your confirmation to take Inka to the vet. I hope he gets the all clear. 🙂
      Take care,

      • Sam Tatters says:

        His xrays have gotten the all-clear 🙂 Though that does leave muscle and cartilage, it’s a great relief that his hips & bones are good. He’s on painkillers until Friday, and will be having another check-up on Friday.

  4. I can relate to your tooth pain.I have had two root canals in the past,one very similar to your predicament.I love your posts and have you on my dog Blog Roll for others to discover you.
    Your articles are well written, educational and straight to the point. Thank you!
    I often gage how dogs are feeling by a look they can have in their eye if not feeling well or in pain.The behaviour for sure is a huge indicator too. I do find a dullness to a look if a dog is suffering,the brightness to the eyes is missing so to speak.
    It is amazing how they will communicate to us,we just need to be vigilant as they are without words.

    • wildewmn says:

      Thanks for the commiseration on the tooth pain! And also for adding Wilde About Dogs to your blog roll. 🙂
      I love what you’ve said about that look in the eye. We may not be able to put our finger on it, but we just “know” something is wrong, whether with a two-legged loved one or with our dogs. The more tuned in we are, the sooner we can intervene if something is wrong. The trick is not to dismiss the feeling if it’s present.

  5. Jamie says:

    What a great discussion. I think we all agree, there are many reasons dogs can be in pain, especially as they move into being honored citizens. As mentioned above, a specific reason often does not come out from traditional veterinary medicine. With the wonderful alternate treatments available, older dogs especially don’t have to be in pain, be stiff, or have extreme limited activity. A really great way to keep you canine moving is through Water Therapy. Swimming in a warm therapy pool (90-92 degrees F) or in a water treadmill, not only keeps older dogs active, it helps deter the effects of long term athritis, and other aging symptoms. and what a great way for your canine to keep fit too. for those younger dogs, especially in agility, water fitness helps build strength as a preventative to injuries. Look for a trained CCRP (certified Canine rehabilitiation therapist in your area. Here is a link to locate a trained practitioner in your area.
    Keeping fit is a key to preventation. and as Nicole mentions, so important to not force our dogs to anything they are resisting. They have a reason, if we listen.

  6. diana says:

    yes, physical ailments can be a factor in ‘noncompliance’. but thank you for also mentioning emotional and mental (psychological) factors as a possibility. i think those are equally important and need to be acknowledged and honored just as much as the physical.

  7. Robert says:

    It’s good to keep in mind that if your dog “refuses” to perform a new trick or doesn’t enjoy things like agility trials, that if pain is the problem, this will be manifested in other kinds of behaviour; difficulty lying down, getting up, obeying commands like “fetch,” or “come,” as well. It would be unusual for pain to inhibit the dog’s behaviour only in areas in which one is at first inclined to say that the dog is “refusing” to do this or that.

  8. Good info. Lucky me I discovered your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have bookmarked it for later!

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