In recent years, videos of dogs walking on their hind legs have taken the internet by storm. At first glance, these viral videos may appear cute or funny. But the truth behind them isn’t always what it seems.
As your veterinarian will tell you, a dog’s anatomy isn’t equipped to handle this unnatural physical exercise. The joint, limb, muscle, and ligament damage can be significant. It’s important to learn more about this harmful practice and why training a dog to walk on its hind legs probably isn’t the best idea.
Why Is It Bad For Your Dog To Walk On Their Hind Legs Like A Human?
Dog legs are not built to handle too much extra strain and weight. A dog’s front legs carry two-thirds of its entire body weight, while the back legs carry only one-third. The muscle structure in a dog’s hind legs is stronger to compensate for this difference, but it is not equipped to handle the dog’s entire body weight.1
For comparison, a horse carries its weight more evenly, with 40 percent of its body weight carried by its back legs.2
Injury Is Possible
When a dog puts significant weight on its hind legs, it may force its bone and muscle structure into an unnatural position. This can lead to pain and a subsequent trip to the vet. Dogs forced to walk on their back legs may develop an injury, weakness, or another serious health condition.3
Medical Problems From Unhealthy Tricks
Here are some possible injuries your pet may endure from hind leg walking. Always talk to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.
Your Dog Might Have Joint Problems In Their Back Legs
A dog’s hip is a ball-and-socket joint. When its limbs are forced to stand or grow abnormally, hip dysplasia can occur. This can result in severe pain in the pelvis or hips, particularly when a dog moves from a lying position to standing.4
Dog Spinal Disc Injury Is Possible
A dog forced to walk on its hind legs can experience a slipped disc or spine injury. This type of injury can result in neurological damage, paralysis, and damage to nerves in the dog’s central nervous system and brain. It can also lead to pain in the dog’s head, neck, pelvis, or back. Diagnosis of this condition can be determined by magnetic resonance imaging at the vet office.5
Your Dog Can Damage Its Tendons And Ligaments
A ligament or tendon injury can be very painful for your animal. Lameness in one or both hind legs may be a sign that your dog has experienced this injury. Causes include athletic injury, landing wrong when running or jumping, or carrying undue weight. Hind leg walking may cause this injury. Unlike some injuries, you may not be able to spot any sign of swelling or blood, so pay attention to your dog’s gait and any lameness.6
Teach Your Dog Safe Tricks And Share The Enjoyment
As you can see, it’s never a good idea to teach a dog to walk on its hind legs. Instead, teach your pet safe tricks like “sit,” “shake,” or “roll over” that are more likely to earn a curious head tilt followed by a happy tail wag. Your relationship with your pet is unlike any other, so keep it happy and healthy. And always make sure to report any warning signs of injury to your vet.