How to Strengthen Dog Knees to AVOID Long-Term Injury

Dogs are susceptible to the same types of injuries and problems that we experience with our knees.

If your dog does a lot of jumping the risk of knee injury increases dramatically.

Want to know how to strengthen dog knees? We’ll share a few things you can do to help strengthen your dog’s knees to avoid injury during activity.

How To Strengthen Dog Knees

How To Strengthen Dog Knees
Start with hind leg stands as you support them on their front legs. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds

The best way to strengthen dog knees is to begin doing exercises that help build the protective muscles around the knee. Help your dog maintain a healthy weight, give mobility supplements, and stay active.

Fun Activities That Strengthen Dog Knees

Helping your dog stay active is the best way to strengthen weak knees. Disuse is the main reason why dog knees become weak. Fortunately, playing is one of the best ways to help them get strong!

Play games such as fetch or Frisbee. These activities put stress on the knees, which helps keep them strong. If your dog has been sedentary or had a recent injury, then start slow with activity.

Throw the stick or Frisbee close to you so your dog doesn’t have to run very far to fetch it. Slowly increase duration and distance as your dog becomes stronger and more agile.

Try Agility Training to Strengthen Dog Knees

Agility sports are so much fun for dogs and owners. They help strengthen a dog’s knees, but they also strengthen your relationship and communication with your dog.

Even better, agility sports help increase your dog’s sense of balance and mental agility through focus and problem-solving.

If your dog has a knee injury, weak knees, or back problems, avoid agility sports that require jumping. Instead, focus on balance, winding through cones, and other forms of agility training.

Increase difficulty as your dog gains confidence and energy, and becomes stronger.

Symptoms of Weak Dog Knees

Here are a few symptoms that point to weak dog knees.

  • Your dog’s legs seem wobbly or they’re stumbling more often
  • They’re not interested in playing fetch or other active games like they used to be
  • They seem to be in pain when walking or going up and downstairs
  • Their nails are overgrown because they aren’t walking as much

When To See a Vet for Weak Dog Knees

If your dog is yelping in pain or seems to suffer from widespread pain, the best thing to do is consult a vet before beginning a knee-strengthening routine with your dog.

Dogs can suffer from multiple sclerosis and other diseases which can cause them to waste away, and no amount of exercise will fix it.

If your dog has lost knee conditioning due to an injury, you can cause further injury to your dog by forcing them to work out the injured knee. Ask a vet before implementing any sort of strenuous dog workout.

Supplement To Strengthen Dog Knees

How To Strengthen Dog Knees
Knee massage can help loosen a dog’s stiff knees to alleviate pain so they can work the knee and regain muscle.

A supplement like glucosamine and chondroitin can help relieve the pain and stiffness caused by injury or arthritis that makes your dog favor his knees, refusing to work them out.

Stiffness and pain can cause a dog to favor the knee joints, resulting in muscle atrophy. If you suspect the dog is in pain, ask your vet if a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement may help regain movement.

You can choose a dog food that has these supplements included in the kibble but call the vet to see if the amount in the food is enough for your dog. You may need to supplement with a therapeutic dose.

Exercises To Strengthen a Dog’s Weak Knees

Here are a few specific and fun exercises you can do indoors with your dog to help increase knee mobility and strength.

Dance With Your Dog

Dancing may help you improve your dog’s core, limb strength, and range of movement. Hold your dog’s front paws so he stands on his rear paws. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds at a time.

Don’t do more repetitions than your dog can comfortably do, to avoid putting undue strain on the knees. Build up slowly.

When they’re ready for the next stage, start dancing with them by lifting their front legs and walking them forward and backward. Make sure that as you do this activity, their spine remains straight.

Stand Up – Sit Down

This workout is ideal for strengthening your dog’s core. Begin the activity by having your dog sit down. Then offer them a treat to entice them to stand up and change position.

When they’re sitting down, give them an order to sit back up. You may repeat the drill 5-10 times if desired. To make it more challenging and enjoyable, try it on various surfaces!

This activity also helps your dog with obedience training, so it’s a 2-for1 activity that your dog will love to do because he’ll get lots of treats!

Balancing Games

How To Strengthen Dog Knees
Teaching a dog to balance on a stool and then a ball will strengthen the knees and core.

Have you ever tried doing core balancing exercises with your pet? For this sort of workout, a stool, wobble board, or a balance ball may be used.

Start by teaching your dog to stand and balance on a stool. This shifts the weight to the back knees, requiring more strength to stand.

Once the dog can balance well on a stool, try balancing on an exercise ball that is wedged with towels to minimize movement. Stand near to catch your dog if he slips.

Gradually allow more ball movement as your dog gains balance and strength to balance with his front legs on the ball.

This exercise strengthens your dog’s knees and core, but it also challenges the brain through concentration and balance.

Read our related article, How To Keep A Dog Active During The Day (EXERCISE Tips) for more ways to get your dog in tip-top shape!

Final Thoughts

Strengthening your dog’s knees can help them live a pain-free life and keep them active.

It can be hard for a sedentary dog to start moving again, so it’s best to start slow, have fun, and encourage your dog each step of the way.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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