Safe Posture in Pup Play

Avoiding Common Injuries In Pup Play

Common Injuries

While pup play is a lot of fun and relaxing for the human pup, and no doubt satisfying for the handler, a responsible pup trainer must be aware of the common injuries that irresponsible pup play can lead too.

It is imperative that a handler ensure that his pup maintains proper posture in all standard positions, and to make certain that they do not hold the less safe positions for too long.

The most common injuries likely to occur in the joints during pup play; that is the wrists, elbows, shoulders, spine, and knees in particular. This can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, neck pain, ischemia, and hyper-extension of the neck, back, and wrists in particular.

The following suggestions should be followed to make sure that your pup is healthy and safe from any injury.


Wrists should always be kept in line with the forearms and directly under the elbows and shoulders when they are bearing weight. Hands should be kept in loose fists with the weight born on the knuckles. If possible, protect your pup’s hands with padded paws, and for further wrist stability wrapping them in boxer’s wraps is ideal. The wrists should never be hyper-extended with the weight of the body resting on the palms of the hands.

Elbows and Shoulders

The elbows and shoulders should form a straight line with the wrists, but not be locked out at the joints. A good way to remember this is to have the elbows in particular loose and with a very slight bend to them. The helps t distribute the pup’s weights evenly and reduces stress on any one joint. While any stance that directs weight through the arms and into the wrists may feel comfortable, it should not be maintained for long periods of time.


The spine includes the entire vertebral column, including the neck. Due to the complex nature of the spine, it can be prone to being injured easily, and special care must be taken to ensure that it is protected at all times. No matter what stance your pup is in, you must ensure that he has a “neutral spine”, that is that it is neither hyper-flexed (arched) nor hyper-extended (swayed). The spine has three natural curves in it, and a neutral back ensures that all three curves are held at their natural position.

A special mention must be made regarding the neck. At no point should the neck be hyper-extended (extended back past the shoulders). This is an extremely dangerous position causing bones to occlude the passages through which nerves travel. Under no circumstances should a pup maintain this position for any length of time.


A special mention should be made regarding the knees. Pups, by the very nature of the play, spend a lot of time on their knees. To help protect this joint, knee pads should be utilised, and if possible, kneeling or crawling on hard surfaces should be avoided.

When sitting back on the knees, there is a risk of cutting off blood flow to the lower legs. A handler must make sure that his pup’s legs are not feeling cold, numb, or tingly. If they are, removing any weight bearing off the knees is required. If left too long, tissue may die due to lack of oxygen which will lead to further complications.


While pup play is a lot of fun and very satisfying for many people, special care must be taken to ensure that your pup is kept healthy and happy. I hope this small article has helped to bring to light the dangerous of reckless play can cause.