While the dachshund’s body shape and size might seem a comical mishap of nature, it has a purpose. Dachshunds were bred for hunting, primarily for flushing badgers and small game out of holes and burrows. Its long, thin body and short legs allow the dog easy passage through underground tunnels and good leverage for pulling animals from their hiding places.
But your Dachshund’s famous hotdog-figure is also his vulnerable point, leaving him susceptible to spinal injury, painful back ailments, ruptured discs, even paralysis. This is why veterinarians recommend that you prevent your Dachshund from jumping up on furniture or running down stairs too often. It’s an attempt to try to limit any activity that jars or puts added stress on his long spinal column.
Vets also suggest that owners use the “horizontal hold” method when carrying the breed. Rather than lifting straight up from the forelegs, lift with one hand under the chest and another under the rear body, keeping your Dachshund’s back horizontal at all times.
Why a harness might be a smart choice
Many Dachshund owners believe that a harness is safer and more comfortable than a collar when walking a Dachshund. A collar pulls on the neck and can result in neck or back trauma, particularly if you have to yank your dog hard during walks to avoid cars, street hazards, or other dogs. Collars can also slip off during a walk.
When fitted properly, however, a harness wraps securely around your dog’s torso, evenly distributing any pressure you apply to the leash when directing him on sidewalks or parks.
Special harnesses for Dachshunds are available in many pet stores. Consider a padded harness rather than the naked nylon type that can pull fur and chafe your dog’s skin. Also pay attention to fit: If you can slide your index finger under the harness it’s probably loose enough to be comfortable but snug enough so it won’t fall off.
With his muscular body and strong legs, your Dachshund is no weakling. But taking a few precautions to prevent spinal injury may help your dog lead a happier life.
Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.
The benefits of play
Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:
Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.
How to play with your dog
There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.
Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!