Tips & Tricks

How to Entertain Your Dog After Neutering or Spaying

Neutering (for male dogs) or spaying (for female dogs) is a common surgical procedure that prevents pets from breeding and reproducing. While this operation offers numerous benefits, such as preventing pet homelessness, increasing lifespan, and reducing the risk of certain diseases, it’s still a major surgery that requires proper post-operative care.

erson holding black and brown dog

That’s why I’ve gathered the best tips and tricks from experienced dog owners, professional trainers, and animal behaviorists to help you keep your dog entertained and comfortable while they recover. In this blog post, I’ll share some low-impact, mentally stimulating activities that might work wonders for your dogs during their recovery journey.

Let’s dive in!

1. Engaging Your Dog’s Mind with Puzzle Toys

After surgery, your veterinarian will likely advise against strenuous physical activities to prevent damage to the incision site. However, dogs are naturally curious creatures that crave constant stimulation. If you can’t provide physical exercise, mental stimulation is the next best thing! Brain games and puzzle toys are excellent options to keep your dog occupied while they recover.

When choosing a puzzle toy, opt for one that doesn’t require too much movement and is easy to figure out. The Loobani Twirl n’ Treat Dog Puzzle Toy is a great choice for post-surgery entertainment. This flat puzzle features five food-hiding compartments partially covered by a twisting panel. Your dog must learn to twist the top panel to uncover the hidden treats. Start by hiding treats in only a few compartments, allowing your pup to learn to check each spot. Before long, they’ll be completely absorbed in solving the puzzle and earning their tasty rewards!

For a more advanced challenge, consider the Loobani Hide-n-Slide Brain Dog Toy. This bamboo frame has eight hidden compartments covered by four sliding wood panels. Your dog must slide the panels side-to-side to reveal the treat-stuffed spaces. Once your pup has mastered the sliding action, you can add an extra challenge by placing food in the compartments and covering them with clean strips of cloth. This will prompt your pup to tap into their innate scavenging instincts to uncover the treats, stimulating their mind and keeping them happy.

2. Massage

Just like humans, dogs enjoy the relaxing and therapeutic benefits of a massage. After a major surgical operation, a gentle massage can help reduce your dog’s anxiety and stress levels. It also aids in developing bodily functions and, most importantly, builds trust and strengthens the bond between you and your furry friend.

dog massage

To give your dog a post-surgery massage, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Calm your dog down

Before starting the massage, ensure your dog is in a calm and submissive state. Offer a treat or positive reinforcement to help them relax.

Step 2: Gently pet your dog

Once your dog is calm, begin petting them gently all over their body. This will help them relax further and prepare them for the massage. Speak to your dog in a soft, tender tone to ease any tension they may have.

Step 3: Massage each area of your dog’s body

Start with your dog’s neck, making gentle circular motions. Pay attention to your dog’s reactions to ensure they’re enjoying the massage. Gradually work on other parts of their body, such as the shoulders, back, and legs, while avoiding the incision area. Remember to be very gentle throughout the process.

3. Nose Work

Nose work is a popular trend that keeps dogs entertained by utilizing their incredible sense of smell. This activity is perfect for post-surgery recovery, as it doesn’t require much movement. Simply hide a treat somewhere and have your dog find it. Just remember to choose a small area for the game to keep your dog’s movements limited.

If your dog is allowed to get up and walk around (i.e., not on complete crate rest), you can make nose work more challenging and engaging. Start by putting treats in several cardboard boxes that your dog can easily open. As they progress, only put treats in some of the boxes, encouraging your dog to sniff them out. You can also increase the difficulty by using shoe boxes and starting with the lid slightly open, gradually progressing to a firmly closed lid that your dog must figure out how to remove with their nose or paws. Dogs love nose work, and it provides a gentle form of exercise (walking) while keeping their minds occupied. However, avoid this activity if your veterinarian has advised complete crate rest.

dog snuffle mat

4. Practicing Training Skills

Although your recently neutered or spayed dog cannot engage in walks or strenuous activities, you can still practice some training skills to keep them mentally stimulated. Focus on exercises that don’t involve jumping or intense movement, such as:

– Going in the crate

– House training

– “Sit” and “wait” commands

These simple training sessions will help tire out your dog mentally and maintain their training progress while they recover.

the girl and the dog are playing

5. Being a Couch Potato

Sometimes, the best activity after a major surgery, like neutering or spaying, is no activity at all. To minimize the risk of complications, it’s important to encourage your dog to rest and take it easy. Use this opportunity to spend quality time together by lounging on the couch and watching a movie together. This simple gesture may seem small, but your dog will surely appreciate the bonding time and affection.

popcorn girl food dog eating

6. Pet Strollers

Going for walks is a typical routine for dogs, and their owners are recommended to keep your dog healthy and stimulated. However, after neutering or spaying, even this simple task becomes much more challenging for your pooch. Veterinarians often advise “restricted activity” during the post-operative period. Luckily, pet strollers allow you and your dog to still enjoy regular “walks” without putting undue strain on their healing body.

To use a pet stroller:

  1. Simply place your furry friend inside and head outdoors.
  2. Take a stroll around your neighborhood, visit a nearby park for people-watching, or even go to a dog park for some canine interaction.
  3. Just ensure that your dog won’t try to jump out of the stroller or engage in activities that may harm them.
  4. Don’t forget to bring along food and water in case your dog gets hungry during your outing.
a dog in a stroller

7. Car Rides

Once your dog has had a few days to recover, consider taking them for a gentle car ride. This outing provides a change of scenery without requiring exercise that could put the incision at risk. When taking your dog for a car ride, follow these precautions:

– Lift your dog carefully in and out of the vehicle

– Ensure your dog is sitting or lying down comfortably during the journey

– Check with your veterinarian to confirm that car rides are appropriate for your dog’s recovery stage

dog car ride

FAQs

1. How long does it take to recover from neutering/spaying?

Most neuter and spay incisions heal within 10-14 days, provided the stitches or staples are removed or dissolved during this time. Veterinarians generally advise against any activity or exercise for approximately 2 weeks after the operation.

2. Can I walk my dog after neutering?

No, you should not walk your dog for around 2 weeks after spaying or neutering. This recovery period allows your pet to rest and heal properly.

dog walk

Final Thoughts

Having your dog neutered or spayed can be challenging, especially if your furry friend is typically active and loves engaging in physical activities. However, this procedure is a necessary part of responsible dog ownership and offers numerous benefits. 

By incorporating the entertaining activities mentioned above, you can keep your pup mentally stimulated and content while they recover from surgery. Remember to follow your veterinarian’s post-operative care instructions closely and shower your furry companion with love and attention during this crucial healing period.