Did you just do the unthinkable? Did you accidentally fall on your dog? Falling or tripping over your dog is a common but heartbreaking incident. Besides causing potential injuries to your pooch (and possibly even yourself depending on where you land), you may even break your trust with your dog.
It’s never happened to me, but I’ve known a couple of people who have been in this situation. They feel terrible for days afterwards. Often, the dog withdraws, unable to understand what he did to deserve the discomfort from your fall. After all, he doesn’t know that it was all just an unfortunate accident.
The good news is, it is possible to fix the situation and re-ignite the trusted bond between you and your k9. Here’s what you should do if you accidentally fall on your dog, and some helpful tips for regaining his trust.
What to Do When You Accidentally Fall On Your Dog
First things first, stay calm and take action.
While you might feel awful right now, you should know that accidents can happen. Although dog owners try their best to keep their dog safe, it’s not uncommon for owners to accidentally trip or fall over their pet. It’s important to move your emotions aside and deal with the matter at hand in order to give your dog the attention he needs right away. Remaining calm will also help your dog to remain calm, preventing any further injury or stress.
There’s no point crying and feeling guilty — that’s not going to benefit your dog. What he needs is your unwavering attention to ensure he doesn’t have an injury that’s left untreated. The longer you wait without treatment, the worse things could get. So it’s always important to take action as soon as an incident like this occurs.
Knowing what to look for, what to do, and when to visit your veterinarian can make a huge difference in getting your pooch the care he needs. Sometimes it can even be the difference between life and death.
How to Check Your Dog for Injuries
Here are some tips for checking your dog for injuries post-fall.
1. Look, But Don’t Touch
Your dog might be in a lot of pain, depending on the level of injury. Use only your eyes to assess your dog for injuries and avoid touching for the time being to prevent causing any further pain. This way, you’ll be able to evaluate the extent of his injuries at a glance and see if needs medical attention.
If you know a trained veterinarian in your neighborhood, ask them to take a quick look at your dog to evaluate whether or not he needs medical attention.
2. Watch for these Telltale Signs of Injury
There are a few signs that indicate your dog might be suffering from an injury that requires professional attention. These signs include choking, gagging, difficulty breathing, and surface injuries such as cuts, scrapes, or protruding bones. In some cases, you may want to check the gums. If they become pale or blue, that’s a sign they’re not reacting well to the fall. Another sign to look for is if your dog is limping. If he’s limping, that’s a crystal clear sign something’s wrong and that he needs to be taken to a veterinarian.
3. Give Him First Aid
To reduce pain and minimize any risk of permanent disability, you may want to consider applying first aid to your dog. Only use first aid if your dog feels comfortable with it. If he growls or tries to bite you, either leave the medical work to the vet or take things a little more slowly so you can monitor his reactions.
First, keep your dog warm and in a quiet environment, especially if he’s dealing with trauma or broken limbs. Clean any superficial wounds with a saltwater solution, but leave serious wounds to your veterinarian to treat. If he’s bleeding somewhere, apply pressure to the affected area using a clean piece of gauze.
Avoid doing anything that should be left to a professional like injections or stitching. If you attempt doing complex medical treatments on your dog, you risk making things a lot worse or possibly even reversible. It’s far safer to leave it in an expert’s hands.
To safely transport an injured dog, ask a friend or neighbor to help you. For a small dog, place him gently into his carrier and use a suitable container like a strong cardboard box. For a larger dog, use a sturdy board or makeshift stretcher to carefully move him to a box or carrier.
When to See a Vet
Nine times out of ten a dog that’s been fallen on will need veterinary attention. Even if the incident isn’t severe, it’s always a good idea to get him checked out by a vet. Since not all injuries are external or visible, it’s worth asking a vet to look him over so that they can verify any injuries.
The most common emergencies include blood loss, burns, seizures, and eye injuries. After being involved in an accident, it is vital that you take your dog for a veterinary vaccination immediately.
Inform your veterinarian about the incident so he can best detect and treat potential issues. The more detail you give the more quickly and efficiently they can treat your furry friend. Some things to make them aware of include how you fell on your dog, signs of injury you have noticed, any first aid you have applied, and basic health information about your dog.
Your veterinarian will most likely perform a basic physical exam to identify any surface injuries as well as the overall well-being of your dog. They may also carry out orthopedic and neurological examinations to check for injuries to the bones, joints, muscles, and nervous system.
At the end of the day, you need to remember that you are not a medical professional. While certain visible signs can seem obvious, your dog might be experiencing underlying issues that need medical attention. For the sake of his health and possibly even his life, it’s important not to overlook these issues and get him looked over by a professional.
Tips for Winning Your Dog’s Trust Back
If the relationship with your dog has become negatively affected since accidentally falling over him, try working with him to rebuild his trust. Your dog doesn’t know that falling on him was an accident. In his mind, he could think you were trying to hurt him and cause him pain. Some dogs may even think they did something wrong. To show your dog how much you love and adore him and never mean him any harm, keep interactions positive and gentle. Here are some tips for encouraging your pooch to bond with you again.
Keep Your Distance in the Beginning
The first week after the incident, it’s important to avoid forcing any interactions with your dog and let him come to you instead. When he does come near you, give him a pat on the head or a little tasty treat to show him you’re happy to see him. You’ll know the two of you are back on good terms again if he approaches you without hesitation. That’s a clear sign the two of you are best buds again!
Slow Down Your Movements
Depending on the severity of the fall, some dogs may feel initially very frightened. That’s why it’s best to avoid making any sudden, potentially alarming movements. For instance, before standing up, start by lifting your arms and then the rest of your body so that it doesn’t come as too much of a shock to your pet. Moving too fast is a surefire way to scare him away.
Avoid Eye Contact
For the first few days following the accident, avert your eyes to avoid scaring your dog. While eye contact indicates politeness in human cultures, for most animals eye contact is a threat. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at your dog at all, but it does mean toning down the eye contact to prevent him getting any wrong ideas.
Try the Indirect Approach
Dogs generally don’t like being approached head-on — especially scared dogs. To quell your dog’s nerves, try approaching him indirectly by kneeling with your side to the dog. This way, he’ll feel more comfortable coming to you, which means he’s more likely to approach you rather than move away from you in fear.
Feed Him By Hand
To win back your dog’s trust, feed all of his meals to him by hand. Crouch down to his level, staying a little to one side so you’re not approaching him head-on, then hold out the food in the palm of your hand and let him eat. If this doesn’t work, place the food in front of him at first. Eventually, he’ll feel more comfortable in your presence and begin eating directly from your hand. According to experts, this type of feeding helps you bond with your dog and strengthens his trust in you.
Different dogs respond positively to different things. Some dogs, for instance, respond well to baby talk as it feels less threatening than regular or noisy talk.Test it out on your pup and watch how he reacts. If the baby talk perks up his ears or sets off tail wagging, keep it up to help regain his trust. If your dog isn’t so receptive to the baby talk, you might want to stick to your regular voice. All dogs are different. It’s up to you as the owner to figure out what works for yours.
Or Don’t Talk At All
Sometimes, it may be better not to talk at all. If your dog responds best to you staying quiet and using friendly, non-threatening body languages, that’s okay too. In the first week or two following an accident, some dogs need more time to recover. Give him the space to do that.
Play Him With Him
Engage your dog in a game he enjoys. It could be anything from fetch to playing with his favorite toys. Or maybe he loves going for a run with you on the beach or playing at the park? Do something you know he enjoys to up his happiness levels and enable him to connect you with pleasurable, positive activities.
There’s a chance he may not want to play with you for the first week or two after you fell on him. That’s okay. Don’t force anything on him, as this might send him running scared. Slowly introduce play. If he likes it and feels comfortable with it, continue playing. If he doesn’t seem comfortable with it, try again in a few more days. It will happen eventually. You just need to be patient and wait for him to come to you.
One of the best ways to rebuild trust with your dog after an accidental fall is to appeal to his appetite. You know how they say the way to a man’s heart is through his belly? Well, it kind of works the same way with dogs.
Start off slowly, placing a treat beside him without actively offering it to him. Let your dog decide if the treat is worth approaching you. Try repeating the process a few times until he approaches you. The key is to be patient, as he may not come to you on the first attempt.
And by the way, make sure the treat is something super tasty! It should be good enough for him to step out of his comfort zone and walk your way.
Make Sure it Does Not Happen Again
Most importantly, make sure you don’t end up falling on your dog again. Regaining his trust can be a long and time consuming process.
Look back to the day of the accident and try to distinguish why it happened and how you can prevent it from happening again. Were you not looking where you were going? Was the floor slippy? Was your dog somewhere he shouldn’t have been? Did you have too much to drink that night?
Once you’ve clarified the cause, try figuring out how you can prevent it from happening again in the future. Perhaps you simply need to watch more carefully where you’re going or get your eyes checked. Maybe it’s worth creating a designated room or space for your dog to spend most of his time so he doesn’t get under your feet.
For the sake of your dog’s health, your health, and your mutual bond, try to avoid falling on your dog again.