Gait is defined as the repetitive movement pattern of the dog’s limbs during locomotion. It is made up of a series of repeated strides. It describes the quality of a dog’s movement.
Gait patterns differ between the breeds, and vary over time. Reasons for differences in gait include breed, conformation, training, experience, health or emotional status, terrain, or fatigue level. Dogs always choose the most convenient gait variation based on these factors.
The most important reason is because it allows you to be aware of any changes in his gait. Gait changes that are not normal for your dog are an indication that something’s wrong. For example, if your dog suddenly starts pacing, it’s a warning sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
Regularly watching your dog walk from all angles, and becoming familiar with how he walks will also tell you quickly if something is wrong. .
Dogs in pain change how they walk to minimize pain. They may shift their weight forward or backward or put less weight on the affected leg.
Dogs with potential neurological problems may scuff or drag a paw.
Dogs with arthritis may appear stiff in their gait.
Dogs with spinal problems or hip dysplasia may start pacing.
Something as simple as nails that are too long can affect gait.
Understanding normal gait patterns and watching your dog move can tell you many things, from something as simple as your dog is getting tired, to something more serious.
On the plus side, it can also tell you if your dog would be a good candidate to participate in sports activities such as agility.
The best 2 gaits to observe are the walk and the trot. Have another person lead your dog on leash in a walk and trot gait while you watch. You must be careful that your “handler” isn’t moving either too fast or too slow to affect how your dog moves. Many dogs will try to match the human’s gait which can lead them to perform an abnormal gait.
So the question is “Have you ever thought about your dog’s gaits?” Have you paid attention to the way he moves? If not, I encourage you to do so. You’ll be doing your 4-legged friend a big favor!