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Growling while restrained at the vet

972 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Bluemoods
Gus had his second vet check up today. He didn't want to walk through the door (understandable) but once inside he relaxed a lot and seemed happy. When we got into the exam room he did ok, and was relaxed enough on the exam table to sit when I asked him and take treats.

In general, he did great EXCEPT when they had to restrain him to take a fecal sample. He growled a little when they put their arms around him before they even took the sample. He struggled a bit when they actually had to get the sample but as soon as they let go of him he relaxed again and took treats from them.

I can totally understand why he was growling (strange place, super uncomfortable stuff going on) and he didn't snap at them or try to bite at all. It does worry me a little though because we suspect he will be a pretty large dog so it would really be ideal for him to accept restraint as much as possible.

I have been working with him getting him used to being touched all over (basically I give him super yummy stuff while I touch his feet, nails, ears, etc.) and as long as food is involved he rarely seems to even notice I'm even touching him. I plan to keep this up, but is there anything else I can do to help him? Definitely want to keep vet visits positive with lots of his favorite treats too.

He is really doing good otherwise and has already made a ton of progress in the two weeks we have had him. I am actually looking into some puppy classes for him, but I'm having a hard time finding a puppy class outside of Petco/Petsmart.
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A growl is a warning. Considering that you do not ever WANT a dog to bite, I would simply use a soft muzzle on him at the vet. You can train that at home and have him learn to accept it.

The LAST place you want to train it (for the first time especially) is at the Vet where he is anticipating less than ideal things happening to begin with.

Prevention is most of the cure. Muzzle him at the vet. You don't want a bite history.

Meanwhile continue your work at home. YOU touching him all over is a lot different than a stranger touching him. He may never accept strangers touching him in even the best of circumstances.

That is OK. I don't know why strangers want to pet a strange dog. If they want to pet a dog they should get their own dog to pet.
Yeah, getting him used to a muzzle is definitely a good idea.

He greeted the other people in the lobby and such really well. He did well for the whole exam and when the vet was touching him all over, even when she was looking at his back end but he wasn't being held by anyone during this, it was just him and the vet. This was also after they had gotten the fecal from him so it seems like it wasn't being handled by stranger so much that really freaked him out, it was the restraint part. The way they restrained him was very similar to someone hugging him and I can really see why he would want to tell them to back off because dogs don't like hugs.

I did read something on a website that had a bit from Ian Dunbar where he talks about getting puppies used to being handled and how to teach them to accept restraint and hugs. It said that if the puppy doesn't accept restraint/hugs after a day that this was an emergency situation and to call a trainer immediately. I'm not really sure how I feel about this because we never expect puppies to have anything down in just a day so how can we expect them to accept something very uncomfortable and unnatural for them in just a day? I'm far from am expert but that doesn't make much sense to me.
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Muzzle training is a great idea for sure. It has the added bonus that you (and the vet/assistants) can be more relaxed because nobody's in danger of being bit, which may help your dog relax. Especially if 99.9% of his muzzle experiences are happy fun training sessions at home with lots of rewards.

Look up "cooperative care". Fenzi Dog Sports Academy regularly has classes on it, but there's also lots of useful free tips on sites like YouTube. The point is to teach your dog how to be more comfortable with handling and veterinary procedures by allowing it some control over the process. REALLY simplified version: if the dog learns that they can opt out of an uncomfortable thing, but will get rewarded for participating in the uncomfortable thing, they'll become much more relaxed and willing to cooperate over time. Even in situations where 'opting out' isn't possible (ie treating an injury).

I've been doing this on and off with grooming to some success.
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I *NEVER* let my dog greet people. Period. Especially at the vet office.

Here is the thing. What if Joe Stranger is there with a sick dog and your dog catches it? What if Joe Stranger just dropped off a dog with an illness yours can get?

At most places it is "No you cannot pet my dog" and the dog stays next to me in a sit or a down or is in a crate if it's a little dog or puppy.

At the vet there is no "greeting" people or dogs. The place is filled with germs, sick dogs and people and dogs in a state of some anxiety. It is simply not safe. Sure.. your dog is fine.. but that other dog at the vet may not be and that other dog owner may not be either.
I agree, muzzle train him for safety but, also no greeting at the vet. If possible schedule early appointments when there are few, if any other patients, or have a vet that does routine things on a call out for not too much.

Mine charges 45 in office plus med or procedures, 60 for a call out. When all four need a check up or it's vaccine time, I pay the 60 for a call out. 15 dollars more to save me the hassle of all four together at the vet is worth it and, so is not risking exposing them to whatever might be in that clinic. One vet town and, that is 20 miles away so, the vet treats ALL animals, even wild ones the game wardens bring in. You never know what might be in there. Horses, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, rabbits, raccoons, armadillos, possum, even an alligator now and then.
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