Week 1: Rehab Instructions: Mindset & Expectations

In week 1, we discuss the following: Mindset, Timeline, Preparing Your Home, Rest, Icing, Walking Slow & Support. Our Rehab Center should be a second home for you during your dog’s recovery. The videos alone in the Online Rehab Center will be an invaluable resource.

For support from other dog owners like yourself, we encourage you to join our Facebook group. Our Facebook group is dedicated to helping your dog get better, feel better, stay better, and live longer happier lives! We’re a community of peer support, advice, and inspiration

Weekly Rehab Instructions:


I know you will agree with me that up to this point, this entire experience has been extremely stressful for both you and your dog. With that being said, take a deep breath because you now have TopDog here to give you guidance on how to best help your dog through this process safely and successfully so that they can return to 100% normal functionality. Along with the weekly emails you are receiving, I would strongly recommend joining our Facebook Group. Here you will find, TopDog Experts and tons of pet owners just like you, who are going through or already have been there and just want to help. You are not alone.


You are probably wondering how long this recovery process is going to take. What I can tell you is this: First of all, don’t be shocked or alarmed if you experience minor setbacks during the recovery process. It happens all the time and 95% of the time, everything turns out to be alright in the end. Secondly, right off the bat, you need to understand what I mean by the concept of FULL RECOVERY. From my years of experience, I can tell you that 100% recovery (i.e. full function & full muscle development) will take up to 6 months.

To the untrained eye your dog is going to appear 100% normal and yes they are going to feel much better as well, but at the end of the day, it takes a long time for all of the muscle mass and other soft tissue strength in that leg to return to its optimal condition.

Remember you are trying to protect the other hind leg from injury. You will hear me time and time again talk about how my veterinary colleagues confidently state the statistic that anywhere for 30-60% of dogs who tear one ACL, will tear that other ACL within one year. What they are saying is true. What they are not telling you is that if you rehab your dog effectively and give their joints the proper nutrition, this statistic is reduced dramatically. We are going to make sure that your dog does not turn into a statistic.


I am not going to go too in-depth on this topic because within the Home Rehabilitation Guide we have thoroughly detailed this. Just make sure that you do your best to secure your home for your dog to the best of your ability.


During the first week, you really need to focus on allowing your dog the time to rest and relax. Again, the entire experience was very stressful for your dog. The first week is also the time in which they are experiencing the greatest discomfort. 99% of the time they should be resting, relaxing, and being nurtured by you. If they won’t let you perform one of the therapies then don’t push them, let them rest.


  • Cold therapy is incredibly effective in so many ways. It is nature’s best anti-inflammatory and it also relieves pain.
  • Rule of Thumb: Ice for the first 72 hours and then use moist heat after, but icing after exercise and therapy is always a good idea.
  • Some dogs are not crazy about the cold on their skin, so I have found that it is best to place a towel or face cloth in between the ice and skin.


For the little bit of time that you will be allowing them to walk around (i.e. for elimination purposes)… I BEG OF YOU… Make sure that they are on a very short leash and are walking at a very slow pace.

If you find that your dog needs some extra support or that you need greater control, I encourage you to check out Help’Em Up support harnesses. They are expensive but worth the investment.

Good luck this week and make sure you come over and check out our incredible Facebook support community. Feel free to share your dog’s story or ask questions. There are hundreds of dog owners just like you who have already been through the surgery and recovery process and are very willing to offer their guidance.


Sometimes it is hard to see your dog’s progress over time. We suggest taking a video each week of your dog walking, that way, if you are frustrated at any point and feeling stuck, you are able to see just how far your dog has come! Also, these videos might be helpful for your orthopedic surgeon or vet in the case of a setback in your dog’s recovery.