Injured Dog Restraint and Handling

An animal that is injured or is in pain may have actions that are unpredictable and sometimes dangerous towards those who are trying to provide care. Proper dog restraint is essential for one's own safety and the safety of the dog. When a dog is restrained well, the canine will be more likely to calm down and accept treatment.

First Try to Comfort and Verbally Soothe

A dog barking or whimpering could indicate signs of trouble. When a dog is injured, the first thing one should do is take a moment for the dog to become comfortable with you. Without sitting on the ground, get down to the dog's level (If one is sitting on the ground, it will be harder to flee if the dog becomes physically aggressive). Without making eye contact, talk to the dog using soft tones that are not high-pitched. One could even try patting the ground or their leg to see if the dog will willingly come over.

The least amount of restraint possible is the best type of restraint. This does not mean one has to give up control of the situation. Rather, create an environment of control and safety. There are two main types of restraint: verbal and physical.

One's voice is a powerful tool. Most canines have a grasp on basic dog training commands: sit, come, stay, heel, etc. Using these commands can encourage a dog to cooperate. Using words that are high-pitched, loud, or excited can cause a dog to become more frightened and aggressive.

Proper Forms of Physical Restraint for an Injured Dog

Physical restraints are the tools and equipment one would use to gain control over an injured dog. The leash is the most common tool used to restrain even the biggest of dogs. However, some dogs are not used to wearing leashes and may try to struggle away from it. If this is the case, take a moment to calm the dog down and try again. If a dog still is not cooperating with a leash, a muzzle will need to be applied so one can carry the dog.

To place a muzzle on a dog:

  1. Approach the dog calmly and slowly and restrain the dog with a leash.
  2. After the leash is placed, approach the dog from the side or behind.
  3. Quickly slip the muzzle on the dog and secure it behind the ears. Emergency muzzles can be made out of tape, a necktie, stockings, a leash or rope, or anything suitable at hand that is at least three feet long.
  4. Make a large loop with the item and quickly slip it under the dog's nose.
  5. Then bring the ends under the dog's chin and tie the ends behind the dog's ears.

Do not use a muzzle on a dog that is unconscious, has difficulty breathing, or has a mouth injury. Towels can also be used as a restraint by putting one over a dog's head. This may help deescalate a dog's excitement. This works well for small dogs. One's hand can also be considered a restraint. It can pet a dog to help comfort him or grasp him if he's struggling. Hands are very versatile, but are also prone to injury. Be smart about using your hands.

Restraining a dog can be easier if one has an assistant helping out. The key to handling an injured dog is using the correct restraining method that will result in the administration of care and maximization of safety with the least amount of stress.