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Why Does My Dog Fake Limp?

why does my dog fake limp

Dogs are among the most beautiful creatures on earth, and undoubtedly, after having one around us, we do feel loved and comfortable. But sometimes, it happens that they portray certain behaviors that surprise us and make us worry at the same time. So today, we are discussing why do dogs pretend to limp.

Dogs may fake limps to gain the attention of their owners, or sometimes they want to convey something. Let’s explore more reasons to know why a dog fakes limp and how to manage it. 

Do dogs fake limp?

Yes, dogs do fake a limp. Dogs are beautiful creatures that also can fake an injury or limp too. Sometimes it is general and sometimes due to any particular health condition. One must understand the signs behind pretending to limp.

Signs indicating that your dog is pretending to limp:

  • When you feed them with their favorite food, they stop limping.
  • Your dog is trying to avoid looking at you directly while pretending to limp. 
  • Sometimes they are limping on the right paw, and the next moment they do it on the left paw.
  • Sporadic symptoms.
  • Sometimes they show signs of a sudden improvement in injury.
  • They start limping when you pay attention to them.

Reasons your dog might be faking a limp are

Your dog wants your attention

If you are not paying enough attention to your dog, he will start feeling separated from you. To get your attention, they do such things. It is essential to pay attention to your dog so that they will not do repeat such behavior. There is a possibility that they are doing it because they want something else, but you need to understand that your dog requires you.

Your dog needs something

If your dog needs something, they will start giving you some signs. For example, if they want to step outside for a walk, they may fake a limp. In that case, you must modify the method by which you can prevent them from doing so. There is a possibility that you are in a state where you can take them outside. But encouraging everyone every time can be harmful. Thus, do take the decision wisely.

Playing around with other dogs

When your dog is playing around with other dogs, he starts doing things like this to make him feel superior. They are doing it to gain attention for their particular play. It is entirely normal if you notice your dog faking a limp while playing around with other dogs. But do not encourage them because they will develop the habit too.

Health conditions that can make a dog limp

Your dog is not feeling comfortable

We all know that dogs cannot speak, but they use body language to communicate what they are feeling. If your dog fakes a limp rarely, there is a chance that they are not feeling comfortable in a particular surrounding. Maybe they are nervous or hesitant as well. You just need to check on them to analyze what to do next to fix them.

Anxiety can make your dog fake a limp

Anxiety issues are common with dogs. It is important that you pay attention to your dog and do not let them be in an anxious state for long. If your dog starts getting anxious, there is a chance they will engage in such behaviors that sometimes appear to be out of control.

Your dog might have an injury

There is a possibility that your dog may have experienced an injury due to which they are experiencing discomfort. For example, sometimes it is difficult for them to walk properly. In that case, they limp, and you should consider taking your pet dog to a veterinary doctor for examination.

Your dog may be going through some physical or mental trauma

Physical trauma is also a common condition in dogs. Therefore, you need to know whether your dog is doing fine or not. Sometimes it happens that along with physical trauma, they are going to have some mental issues as well, due to which they cannot control whatever they are doing. Faking a limp is part of such behavior.

What does a limping dog look like?

Dogs, as well, may go through some injuries or develop illnesses that lead to limping. It is important to understand that the dog puts weight on all limbs during limping, and it appears abnormal. It entirely depends on the condition of why they are doing it. If it is genuine, then there is a possibility that they will limp consistently. But if they are fake limping, then consistency cannot be expected.

What to do if my dog is limping?

If you notice your dog limping but have no clue whether it is fake or genuine, there are certain things that you can do. This includes:

Examine your dog

First of all, pay attention to your dog and analyze them closely. Analyze every activity in which they engage. Also, look at their limbs and check out whether they are fine or affected. For example, if you notice them licking their limb, there are chances they might be suffering an injury. Next, examine the paw-pad and between the toes to see if they are in good condition or if there is any foreign object stuck in them. Finally, gently manipulate the joints to see if they are working properly or if there is any stiffness or tenderness. If you notice any signs, you need to call the vet.

Check out the wound

If you notice a minor or major wound, clean it first with gentle soap and lukewarm water. Do not add hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to it. Then, apply the antiseptic ointment immediately. If the wound is major, reach out to the vet doctor right away.

Check for swelling

Pay close attention to your dog and see whether there is any swelling or not. If you notice any swelling on any part of the leg, it calls for an emergency, and you need to reach out to the doctor right away. Make sure not to avoid it because this may be because of a broken bone.

If your dog is really injured, then let him rest

After having a conversation with the veterinary doctor:

  1. Do know that the time has come when you need to let your dog rest for a while.
  2. Do not force them to engage in any activity.
  3. If you notice they are doing certain things, try to stop them so that they can have a complete rest and recover from it as soon as possible.

Solutions to fix fake limp behavior in dogs

You can adopt certain measures to fix the fake limp behavior in dogs. This includes:

Do not encourage them

When your dog fakes a limp, do not encourage them. If you encourage them, it acts as negative reinforcement, and they get used to it. Furthermore, they will frequently fake limp whenever they need something. They fake a limp because they undoubtedly know you will pay attention to them.

Do not leave your dog alone

If your dog is faking a limp when he is alone, it is advisable not to leave him alone at all. If your dog develops the habit of living alone and starts to engage in bad habits, dealing with it will be troublesome for you.

Distract your dog

When you notice your dog faking a limp, distract them. We are not saying you beat them or encourage them to have any bad habits. For example, you can engage them in some exercise sessions or take them outside for a short walk.

Dog training can help you

If nothing is helping you out, dog training is the only option left. You can simply reach out to the nearby dog training center, or if you have sufficient time, you can train your dog on your own. Let them understand everything so that they will not do such things and create many problems for you and others around you.

What to do if my dog is limping but has no pain?

There is a possibility that your dog is limping, but they are not experiencing any pain. This is the condition when they are going through some degenerative or chronic condition. There is a chance that they have encountered a knee injury in the past, and it led to other problems, including hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, and so on.

Your dog started limping without any prior warning, and you need to understand what they are going through. If you do not notice any visible signs on their body, it is best to approach the doctor to get it diagnosed as soon as possible.

Is it possible for a dog to limp when walking but not run?

Yes, there is a possibility that your dog may limp during walking but not during running. This is happening due to injury in that area, and when they are excited, they ignore it. In younger dogs, it is pretty common, and they never bother to pay attention to it. But this can be problematic because it can lead to more injury to the same site.

Can limping indicate an emergency situation?

Do understand that not every dog’s limping is real. Therefore, it does not call for any emergency. However, if this occurs regularly, you should take your dog to the veterinarian right away. Furthermore, if they are faking it, understand that they are doing it to gain your attention. So, first of all, check out your dog for any physical signs. If you are noticing any physical signs, approach the doctor right away.

What are the possible signs indicating that your dog is not faking a limp?

Like the sign that indicates a fake limp, there are signs indicating a genuine limp. This includes:

  • All of a sudden, your dog is not in the state to get up or move.
  • Excessive swelling in the limbs.
  • Broken bone
  • Bleeding profusely
  • There is a fever, and the temperature is higher than 101 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Extremely lethargic
  • Severe vomiting

Myths and facts about limping

As we all know, dogs may fake a limp, and there are some possible reasons that indicate it is genuine. But there are some myths and facts related to it. This includes:

Myth: If a dog is holding his leg up, it means he has a foot injury!

Fact: If the dog is holding his leg up, it can be for any reason. There might be a chance they are just doing it to gain your attention, or maybe they are dealing with some bone or muscle problem. However, it is entirely related to a foot, ankle, hip, or knee, so you need to check it out.

Myth: When a dog has pulled a muscle, they start limping!

Fact: Pulled muscles are rare in dogs. If you notice your dog has started limping, pay attention to them and check out whether they are doing fine or not. If they are doing fine, it is a fake. But if they are not doing well, it calls for an emergency, and you need to reach out to the veterinary doctor.

Myth: Limping is a common dog behavior!

Fact: Faking a limp can be common, but not every time. It is important to check your dog for certain conditions. For example, if your dog is suffering from arthritis or dealing with a poor range of motion, they will start limping.

Myth: When dogs limp due to arthritis, only pain-relieving medications are sufficient!

Fact: When dogs are dealing with arthritis, it is important to pay attention to them and take them to the doctor to get the best cure. Only pain medications are insufficient.

What we learned from all this

Dogs fake a limp, and as a four-legged friend, you need to pay attention to the condition. If you are not paying attention to them, they will get used to it and start doing it whenever they want. Sometimes it happens that you may not understand the actual cause behind it. But, if it happens only occasionally or in the last few days, contact a veterinary doctor to have them diagnose it. Your dog may begin to do so as a result of an injury as well. Furthermore, if you notice your dog faking an injury or just doing it to get your attention, do not encourage this behavior.

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anuja saxena author at anifirm

I am a dog lover who spent her childhood in the company of a friendly Labrador Retriever. I believe that pets make our lives more enjoyable and stress-free. So, here I am, attempting to share my experiences and knowledge to improve the lives of pets and pet owners.