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So today my 1 year and about 4 month old had his checkup with the vet and it did not go well. Our vet is mobile so she comes to our home. I wasn't there so this is all from what my wife told me. When the vet was at the door Buddy did his usual barking, but when the vet came in he got really vicious with all his hair up on his back and my wife was really concerned he would bite her. This is only his 3rd visit with the vet and previous visits were fine. First time he got shots he did let out a yelp and then went to hide. Second visit he had gone to the hospital for a cut and the mobile vet just removed the staples. Again no real issues, this was like 6 months ago. And then today he has decided he hates her. They ended up putting a muzzle on him and my wife held him while he got shots.

All this seemed pretty crazy as I've rarely seen him act like he would bite somebody. It has just been with a few random men that he seemed to decide he didn't like how they looked. There are also a few people and dogs out on walks that he has decided he just doesn't like. This sort of barking and not liking certain people/dogs seems to have grown on him as early on we would walk and he'd bark at nobody. I've had a few friends come over that he was suspicious of, but they would give him treats and eventually he got over it. He is used to lots of neighbors around and is always good with them. He also goes to daycare where there are several people working and obviously lots of dogs and has no problems there. He walked with the family last Halloween and was also really good with lots of people walking about.

We have tried everything hard to make him a not aggressive dog. I've only used positive reinforcement training. Try to keep him social with dogs, people, kids...

So is there something I should be doing? It is winter here now, so not much for walks. I had some success with really good treats and him ignoring the dogs he normally barked at. I guess we have to reset with the vet and take him to some office. I was thinking we would shower him with treats after shot so hopefully he remembers the good rather than bad. I really can't understand why he was so crazy today.
 

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A dog puts his ruff up when he is SCARED. That is the first sign of Defense Drive kicking in and the dog is defending HIMSELF. Every time a dog puts up his hackles in a situation like this he is being DEFENSIVE. The hackles up is to make him look bigger and tougher when he is really afraid.

A dog in defense will bite. No doubt about it. A dog in deep defense may also exhibit fight drive and then you have trouble if he bites because he is not about to back down.

What can you do? Be careful. When his hackles raise, redirect him and get him thinking about something else (do NOT comfort him or reward him as that will simply convince him there IS something to be afraid of).

When the vet comes muzzle him. Period. Or when you go to the vet. You cannot risk the vet's hands. You may need that vet to do surgery someday.
 

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Hackles mean arousal... which can be from fear or excitement. For example, dogs can have a great time playing appropriately with each other with hackles raised.

Anyways, I agree with the muzzle suggestion. It sounds like your dog is generally aloof with people outside of his family, and that is okay. Keep in mind that he is hitting maturity and his adult personality may be coming out. He may not be as tolerant as he was in his puppy or adolescent months. You may also see how he is if you take him to a vet clinic rather than having the mobile one come to your home. I'm sure that having a person (with previous negative associations) enter his territory does not help his reaction.
 

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Hackles mean arousal... which can be from fear or excitement. For example, dogs can have a great time playing appropriately with each other with hackles raised.

Anyways, I agree with the muzzle suggestion. It sounds like your dog is generally aloof with people outside of his family, and that is okay. Keep in mind that he is hitting maturity and his adult personality may be coming out. He may not be as tolerant as he was in his puppy or adolescent months. You may also see how he is if you take him to a vet clinic rather than having the mobile one come to your home. I'm sure that having a person (with previous negative associations) enter his territory does not help his reaction.
Dead on correct. I do think in this situation the arousal is fear (from the descriptive of previous time of running and hiding).

Hackles can additionally mean arousal and excitement (although, a dog in full fight drive that is running blinds and comes into blind 6 with hackles up will get points deducted as it indicates a nerve issue in addition to arousal.. just a side consideration).

I would not have a mobile vet come to the house. Take the dog to the vet clinic if possible. It changes the dog's perception.
 

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And if you take the dog to a vet clinic and it is still extremely fearful, many good vets are willing to let you stop by when you are out and about with your dog to teach the dog the vet isn't ONLY about terrifying things. Because Quill is also terrified of the vet, they have told me to bring him by for just pets and treats so that he can associate the vet's office with good things as well. Another perk of a good vet office vs a home visit.

If every time your vet "intrudes" on your dog's territory, it is forced to be muzzled and held down for shots or such, the dog is only going to develop a greater fear of that person. Quill's fear of the vet started around the same age as your dog as well, and I know he is set back by that. Not necessarily being muzzled, but being forced to have something done by a person he is terrified of.

Another note, if your dog isn't comfortable wearing a muzzle in any situation, you can also work on that. The muzzle is good to have moving forward as was mentioned, but it will be better if your dog is relaxed wearing the muzzle, if it isn't already.

Good luck! I know it is stressful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
And if you take the dog to a vet clinic and it is still extremely fearful, many good vets are willing to let you stop by when you are out and about with your dog to teach the dog the vet isn't ONLY about terrifying things. Because Quill is also terrified of the vet, they have told me to bring him by for just pets and treats so that he can associate the vet's office with good things as well. Another perk of a good vet office vs a home visit.

If every time your vet "intrudes" on your dog's territory, it is forced to be muzzled and held down for shots or such, the dog is only going to develop a greater fear of that person. Quill's fear of the vet started around the same age as your dog as well, and I know he is set back by that. Not necessarily being muzzled, but being forced to have something done by a person he is terrified of.

Another note, if your dog isn't comfortable wearing a muzzle in any situation, you can also work on that. The muzzle is good to have moving forward as was mentioned, but it will be better if your dog is relaxed wearing the muzzle, if it isn't already.

Good luck! I know it is stressful!

Did your dog have seemingly no great reason to be scared of the vet? Buddy yelped the previous time he had shots, but then was fine the next visit when he had staples removed. It all seems very strange for him. I guess this was his first visit since he is an adult dog.

We do plan to take him to a regular vet rather than continue to use the home vet. I'll do everything I can to make it more fun rather than just go there for shots. I'll try giving him really good treats during and anything else I can think of.

Is there any good info on what type of muzzle to get? Since I've never thought he would bite anyone before it's not something I have looked into. I've never really had a dog I was worried about. I don't think it will be hard to muzzle train him as he has no problems wearing coats, boots, hats for special occasions...

Thank you to everyone for your responses.
 

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Quill has fear of odd things. He was 100% fine with the vet until his 1 year rabies shot visit. He was doing great, then they pulled out the stethoscope and he was terrified. We muzzled him and gave him his shots, and I think that made things far worse, as he's never been quite as trusting at the vet. He still can go in without a muzzle and be relatively okay (still nervous, but not hackles up, barking, etc which the vet knows, and takes things slowly), but the minute they try to touch his back he panics.

I would just explain to the new vet his last reaction. Vets are, for the most part, very understanding of dog's issues. They do a great job of helping Quill, and the new vet has even said she is willing to come out, take him for a walk beforehand, and do his whole visit outside if that will make him more comfortable. For minor things, she'll have me send pictures and consult remotely so she doesn't have to stress him out with a visit -- he had a rash that she was able to diagnose and treat without us ever going in. The vet will likely have some great advice on helping make it easier for you and your dog.

Basket muzzles are the best, as they are most comfortable for the dog, allow them to pant easily, take treats, etc while being worn so are able to be used for longer periods. Something like this works really well. Just make sure you acclimate the dog to it so they become comfortable. I use a "muzzle" command for Quill. I started by holding the muzzle in one hand, the treat in the other, and "luring" him into placing his nose in. All I cared about at first was him putting his nose in, then I gave the treat right away and praised. I continued with that until he was willingly doing it when I said muzzle without a treat in hand, then strapped it on and treated and removed right away. Slowly work up to longer periods, and as they become more comfortable, start having them do basic commands (sit with it on, now remove; lay down, now remove; now walk nicely with it on, etc).

I'm sure there are good videos of people doing this here or elsewhere! Just take it slowly so the muzzle isn't adding to the fear. Quill will gladly throw his head into a muzzle because he knows muzzle = treats, which means he isn't panicking the minute I pull out the muzzle, thinking something bad is going to happen.

Good luck! I know it is stressful, but vets are generally very understanding!
 
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