Living with a dog with Hip Dysplasia

by Lisa Schmit-Bonker on 11/18/14


A friend’s dog was recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia. I sent her information about Moxie and thought I would share. Moxie was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia at a year old.  Needless to say, I was devastated. I researched it and talked to many people and decided Moxie could continue with agility training as long as I was careful and kept a keen eye on his body.   Moxie has had an AMAZING agility career. He retired from agility at 11 years old after winning NADAC Championships 4 years in a row.  He has 5 platinum speed stars (NADAC speed award), 22 NATCHES and over 10,000 lifetime points.   Needless to say, he was an awesome agility dog!  


He is now 14.5 years old and is doing great!! We just got back from vacation where he ran on the beach every day!


So here are things that I have done over his lifetime to keep him healthy and active.


WEIGHT MANAGEMENT:  One of the most important things I do is keep Moxie as lean as possible (sometimes a difficult task!).  Keeping the weight off reduces the stress of their bodies.


EXERCISE/CONDITIONING: I keep Moxie in shape and conditioned. Dogs with HD, generally do not have much muscle tone in their hind legs.  You need to do exercises to build up those muscles.    I tried to do exercises that would provide muscle building while limiting the wear and tear on the joints. I made sure that Moxie was exercised daily—not just on the weekends.  We went on hikes, swimming when he could and played ball.  Playing ball was not hard on Moxie’s joints because he would run close to the ball, stop and look at me.  Most of the time, he would pick it up and bring it back. Other times, I would walk to the ball and throw it again.  It has always been the joke that Moxie has trained me well!!  But I really wanted to make sure he got exercise so as long as he ran to the ball, I did not care if I had to go get it!  I also did some conditioning exercises a few times a week such as backing up, weight shifts and dancing.   It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned more about conditioning.   There are so many great videos, classes and equipment out there to help with conditioning.   I have taken 6 online conditioning classes with Bobbie Lyons and Debbie Gross. There are  many great conditioning videos.   Even at a older age, Moxie gets to workout with some of the conditioning equipment to keep him in shape.


We also did agility training a few days a week.  As a young dog, Moxie competed in all agility venues, but it quickly became apparent that NADAC was the venue for us.   Moxie could jump lower, the courses were more wide open and not so tight and turny.     I always jumped him as low as I possibly could to reduce stress on his joints.  I limited the amount of jumps, Aframes and weave poles he did in practice.    I love hoops as they are low impact agility obstacles so I use them in training a lot. 


Here are 2 videos of conditioning with Moxie this past summer.  He is 14 years old in the videos





Awesome Conditioning Online Classes:

Bobbie Lyons  K9 Conditioning Online Classes !  I highly recommend these !  I have taken 6 classes and LOVE them!


Debbie Gross also does online conditioning classes.  I have taken a few classes with her as well. She is awesome !!!


There are great facebook groups out there to help with conditioning.


WARMUP/ COOL DOWN  I have always made sure that I warm and cool down Moxie before any activity.



GOOD FOOD/SUPPLEMENTS: Moxie has been fed a raw diet since he was a puppy. Since I found out about his HD, he has been on a variety of supplements.

I have use Longevity Joint supplement most of Moxie’s life. I tried various other ones, but always go back to Longevity. 


I also love Grizzly Salmon Oil to help with inflammation.  If you give salmon or fish oil you need to give Vitamin E also.   He gets Tumeric (helps with inflammation) and Standard Process Ligaplex.


CHIROPRACTOR/MASSAGE:  Moxie sees a chiropractor usually once a month.    Prior to finding a chiropractor “close’ to my house (I still drive about an hour one way) I would  drive over 2 hours one way to get Moxie adjusted.  He also gets massages and acupuncture.


PAIN MEDS:  If Moxie is looking stiff, I give him Previcox or Tramadol.  It is very rare that I give him pain meds.  


MISCELLANEOUS:   I try to make life easier for Moxie.  I have a ramp to help him get in and out of the motorhome.    I have memory foam beds all over the house and motorhome.


It amazes me how well Moxie is doing at 14.5 years old.  He has a heart of gold !!


ABOUT ME:  Lisa Bonker has been active in agility for over 15 years. 

Lisa currently has eight dogs – six Border Collies, an Aussie, and a Boston Terrier Mix. She is a NADAC certified Clinician and gives seminars across the continent.  Lisa hosts over 15 NADAC Trials yearly as In The Zone Agility and In The Zone Agility of Illinois.   Lisa has won the NADAC Championships six years in a row with three different dogs.   In 2013, Synergy was Reserve Champion in the 16” class and Tandem was Reserve Champion in Starters Stakes (class at champs that required high level distance skills).  Her dogs are consistently in the NADAC Top 10 with Jet being the Highest Scoring Skilled Dog in 2007 and Moxie the Highest Scoring Skilled Dog in 2008.  Tandem, Synergy, Moxie and Expedite have also earned nine NADAC Platinum Speed Star Awards.  Lisa and her dogs have earned over 60 NATCHs.  A complete list of Lisa’s accomplishments is on her website at: 


To contact Lisa regarding seminars, online dog training or video coaching email her at

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