dog looking up
Lead,  Opinion

Viewpoint: Pain in dogs is almost impossible to diagnose in a consulting room

By Debbie Betts, IMDT Dog Trainer and Dynamic Dog Practitioner, Dynamic Paws and Train 

There is a new wave of further understanding amongst pet dog owners that pain/discomfort and behaviour are very closely linked. Behaviourists and trainers have known this for many years, but quite often come up against brick walls as the dog ‘doesn’t show pain’ in the way that is expected when examined by a vet.

Dogs can show discomfort in a variety of different ways including their behaviour and quite often will only show that behaviour to their trusted guardians. In a veterinary setting, the dog’s adrenaline will rise, which can lessen pain within the body… adrenaline can do amazing things – think of the young mother who lifts a car off her child, with having a broken back herself!

So, what does that behaviour look like, I hear you ask?

It can be as subtle as sleeping in an odd or different position, choosing not to sit and preferring to stand, not eating all of their breakfast, not wanting to go out for a walk, a weird waddle in their walk, running away from their walking equipment, barking and lunging at other dogs, people and vehicles. The list is endless of varying behaviours ranging from subtle to extreme, and these behaviours may change gradually suddenly or may have always been there!

Behaviour is EVERYTHING that the dog does or doesn’t do, so how on earth do we find out what possibly could be going on? 

This is where a Dynamic Dog Practitioner can really help narrow down that needle in the haystack, for the vet to carry out further diagnostics. We are trained to carry out a Dynamic Dog Assessment, which is a functional assessment using a variety of analytical techniques that can shine a light on potential discomfort in the dog in question that could be adding to behaviour issues.

We are totally hands-off, in fact, the majority if not all of the data required is gathered by the dog’s trusted caregiver. So, no stress for the dog in question. This is absolutely a game changer for nervous dogs or those dogs who think strangers are dangers! Also, for those dogs whose guardian just knows something isn’t right, nothing is ever found under examination.

Some examples of behaviour and what was found after a Dynamic Dog Assessment was completed and sent to the dog’s vet. Please remember that these behaviours were only a small piece of the puzzle. A Dynamic Dog Practitioner does not diagnose, that is the remit of the veterinary professional only. 

  • Pica (eating of non-food items) a dog was found to have a malformed spine
  • Resource guarding (of food bowl and vomit) was found to have chronic pancreatitis

In both cases once the discomfort was addressed the behaviour lessened considerably or resolved entirely.

Our dogs talk to us through their behaviour, it is up to us to listen and enable them to be heard.

What are your thoughts on Dynamic Dog Assessments? Do you have any dog training tips to share with the industry? Let us know in the comments or email

The views and opinions expressed in this viewpoint are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Canine Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *