From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

The Adventures of Ergo Dog

Ergonomics in the office, in the home, in the classroom, in the car. Where will it show up next? How about in the dog.

Man’s best friend deserves man’s best treatment and right now in puppy-town, anything ergo goes. From “ergonomic cut” doggy life jackets, to orthotic beds, spring-loaded leashes or their bungee cord counterparts, even ergonomic dog bones fashioned asymmetrically so Fido is forced to find new chewing angles, they’re all available for the potentially at-risk canine.

Marketing scheme? Well maybe. But behind every good gimmick, there’s a grain of truth. According to, some dogs, particularly aging ones, can develop movement problems, and accommodating pet accessories could alleviate unnecessary strain. And veterinarians, including Park City, Utah vet, Randall Barbe, D.V.M., will confer.

According to Dr. Barbe, some of these ergo doggy amenities, particularly the elevated pet bowls, can help dogs deal with the risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). “Usually, it’s larger dogs, like Great Danes,” says Barbe. It’s the sheer height of these dogs that can cause a strain on the large dog’s neck when Rover bends over for dinner, and that can lead to a doggy MSD.

A few of the ergo-dog items are actually meant for man, like leashes with padded grips or human-fitted components for wrapping the hand around comfortably while taking a walk. Ergonomic pet shears, brushes, grooming tools, and jogger-friendly dog repellent also tout human comfort. Other items, like the shock-absorbing leashes, work both ways, taking the strain off the dog’s handler and the easing the pain of a yanked-back leash on the dog’s neck. If Fido or Fluffy is already showing signs of wear, dog massage or swim therapy is a readily available option.

While most of the ergonomic dog items seem to be doing little more than hopping on a marketing bandwagon, the elevated dog dishes are serious, with veterinarians often recommending them to patients of at-risk dogs. And, according to Barbe, some dog owners claim another benefit. “[They’re reported to] help dogs with bloating problems,” says Barbe. Or, more simply, gas. The dishes lower emissions. The claims are that dogs don’t suck in as much air when they’re not trying to inhale their food from way down on the floor. Less air in through the front means less air out the back — a positive side effect for anyone who has ever had a gamy dog, although Barbe won’t attest to the accuracy of the claims.

In addition to new products, simple modifications of the home can also help old Fido ease into his golden years. suggests raising the food bowls, moving the dog’s bedding and food to the same floor, installing ramps for getting in and out of cars and even a harness on the back-end of the dog to take weight off the rear legs.