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Hind Leg Crossing in Dogs: Causes & Solutions

Hind Leg Crossing

The crossing of your dog’s back legs is one of the early symptoms of neurological deficits in its hind end. Leg weakness can cause muscles to atrophy and weaken the muscles in the rear end. As a dog’s back legs progressively lose strength and control, the hind legs start to cross uncontrollably. This can be one of the early symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

What is Degenerative Myelopathy?

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a progressive spinal disease that generally occurs in dogs between 8 and 11 years old. This painless disease is very similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS in humans. DM begins with hind leg crossing and slight hind quarter weakness and progresses to complete paralysis.

Hind leg crossing is one of the earliest signs that a dog’s back legs are weakening. Although Degenerative Myelopathy is incurable, regular exercise with a rehab practitioner can slow the disease’s progression.

Treating Hind Leg Crossing in Dogs

Uncontrollable hind leg crossing needs to be treated immediately. If you start to notice your dog’s hind legs crossing or becoming weakened, it is important to talk to your Vet right away. Your Vet will begin the process of ruling out a diagnosis until they can determine the underlying cause.

Rehab Exercise

Hind leg crossing often occurs in dogs whose back legs are becoming weaker. During rehab, your dog’s therapist will work through a series of exercises to help strengthen your dog’s legs. For dogs that have a hard time standing or keeping their hind legs underneath them may use a dog wheelchair for added support during exercise. A wheelchair can act like a stand to support your dog’s back legs and keep them upright as they work through their rehab sessions. A wheelchair is also a great way to keep your dog active at home and take them on their daily walks!


Hydrotherapy is an excellent way to strengthen your dog’s hind leg muscles without putting stress on their joints! The water allows the dog to become buoyant, so they don’t have to support their full body weight. Additionally, the water offers some resistance when the dog walks, which will help them to rebuild strength and minimize muscle loss.

The hydro therapist will work with your dog, focusing on how they move and place their paws to improve their gait and strengthen their muscles. An underwater treadmill is the most common method of hydrotherapy for dogs working on gait correction, although a swimming pool may also be utilized.

Proactive Solutions

Awareness of how your dog moves are crucial to catching degenerative illnesses early! Therapies like the structured exercise, Hydrotherapy, and most physical therapies are always more effective in slowing the disease’s progression the earlier you start! 

Dog Mobility Support for Hind Leg Crossing

German Shepherd dog wheelchair


  1. Hi. I’ve my cross german shepherd male dog of around 16 months old and he has problem with hind legs. He doesn’t seem to have problem while running, but while walking his hind legs rubbed each other and as a result he can’t walk normally like other dog. Also, he lifts his right hind leg while walking down, especially walking downstairs on the steps. A kind advice on this issue would be helpful.

    • Thank you so much for reaching out. If a dog is lifting one leg as it moves it may indicate that it’s painful for the dog to use that leg or the dog doesn’t think they can bare it’s full weight on the leg. I would highly recommend speaking to your veterinarian, this may indicate an issue with the knee, hip, or another part of the back leg.

  2. In addition to my earlier problem, my dog can’t urinate like normal male dog, lifting one leg up. He urinates like female dog with both hind legs slightly lowered. Pls advice

    • I’ve seen both male and female dogs squat to relieve themselves, but if you’re concerned, I recommend contacting your veterinarian.

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