Puppies, vets, fear periods

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Southpaw, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Messages:
    7,788
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Picking your brains on a scenario :)

    We had a puppy come in last week. 12 week old "shorkie poo." Weighs a whopping 2 pounds. Owner suspects an ear infection. I go in the room, get my history, get my ear swabs. As soon as I touch the dog's ear she starts shrieking and flailing. Okay fine, I manage anyway.

    Vet does an exam and can hardly even see in the ear with an otoscope because there is so much hair clogging the canal. So she wants us to pluck it out. Vet brings puppy back to us, tells us to just do the best we can because the puppy was screaming and nipping at her during the whole exam.

    So we start plucking, cue shrieking puppy. And she's throwing a tantrum and gnawing on my hands the whole time. Now since she's only 2 pounds, I'm being very careful not to crush her as I'm holding her... but, I need her to sit still. She screams a blood curdling scream the entire time.

    Owner calls in today. Puppy's behavior has done a complete 180 ever since they were in. She's now wary of people and extra bitey. Says this happened because we "tortured" the dog.

    Okay. I think this dog is/was probably in the middle of a fear period? My question for you guys then is, what do you think vet staff can do in these cases to minimize the trauma? Or what can owners do? I feel bad when puppies come in for more than simple vaccines because I feel like these procedures just ruin their entire outlook on things... but I don't know how or if it can really be avoided.
     
  2. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Messages:
    5,798
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    I offer desensitization services for things like this. Nail trims are another big one. Basically, as often as the owner can, they bring the dog in to spend time with me so that I can work with the dog on whatever issues they have. I explain the process, thresholds, patterns and what I do to classically condition the dog into enjoying whatever they previously don't like. These services are free to the client because to be honest, we would much rather work with a cooperative dog than one who hates being at the clinic.

    As far as the puppy above, no that is not a typical puppy reaction and is shouldn't be written off as a fear period. That puppy would benefit from desensitization to general handling like I explained above. The owner needs to be a big part of it as well if it has generalized to outside scenarios. The more work they do NOW with this puppy, the better it's life will be.
     
  3. Kootenay

    Kootenay Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 horses
    Location:
    BC Canada
    That is so amazing that you do that. I wish vets around here were even remotely inclined that way. You basically have to convince them even to let you bring the pup in other than appointment times! Drives me crazy.
     
  4. Red Chrome

    Red Chrome New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Being a groomer, I see this all the time. People bring us a 6 month old Yorkie MIX that has never been groomed and not properly brushed etc. They are NIGHTMARES. They shriek and scream if you even touch them. We tend to try and work with them, offer rewards for good behavior etc. However, we too only have a limited amount of time to get out work done so there are some things that either don't get done at all or only half ass. We always tell people that they need to be aware, that we may not get the full groom done and that it may not look as good as it could cause this is the first time, traumatic etc when they haven't been worked with before. We always tell the client that we want them to like grooming, ease them into it. BUT even with that spiel we still get people who call saying we tortured the dang puppy, no idiot, you did by not socializing it and taking care of it properly, while we can't say that, we definitely think it.

    I have no idea but lately the little Yorkie mixes have been the absolute worst. I mean BAD.

    I agree with Sara's advice, desensitization is the best way to combat this but the owner has to be willing. I've had some owners put the effort in and their dogs are awesome now and others who haven't and their dogs will never look as good as they could because I simply can not risk their safety to make them look good, function over beauty.
     
  5. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Maryland
    I still feel bad because I think I ruined Jackson as a puppy. I brought him to a vets office, who I quickly thereafter determined I did not like, but he went there for his first 2 vet visits with me for shots. But they were just very grabby with him, man-handled him, and weren't very gentle. He also had a horrific reaction to the lepto vaccine so I had to rush him back and they brought him in the back real quick, etc... I think it traumatized him. He hates the vets ever since.

    But he's not really the type to flail, screech, etc, he more completely shuts down, and slinks, and puts ears back. But there was another incident where I needed his nails clipped and I was with a friend at Petsmart who was getting her dogs nails clipped, so I thought what the heck. Well they literally grabbed him and because he was trying to get out of their grip, one person held on, the other muzzled him, while they quickly clipped his nails. OMG I felt SO bad, and cannot believe I didn't just stop them. He released his anal glands from being so scared (now he does this EVERY time we go to the vets) and he still 4 years later, freezes up at the register at Petsmart because he thinks we're going to the grooming room.

    But these two incidents set us back far with trusting stranger issues. If I had a do-over, I would've taken him to the vet the very first time and just done nothing. Gotten some treats, got on a scale, and left or something. I also would've researched my vets first.

    It's hard to say though - it's like, I understand vets and techs don't have all day to try de-sensitizing a dog to whatever needs to be done. I mean, it's gotta be done obviously and they have a job to do. So it's understandable why they just grab the dog and do it.

    I'm not really sure what could be done, other than SaraB's de-sensitization services. That sounds absolutely amazing!
     
  6. meepitsmeagan

    meepitsmeagan Meagan & The Cattle Dog Crew

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    3,378
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Michigan
    I think a lot of it depends on the puppy too... I mean, if they are naturally confident, they are going to take it a lot better.

    On another note, not to derail the thread, but blood draws. How do you get a dog to hold still/not be scared? I mean, you can't really go around sticking a needle in them and shoving chicken in their face.
     
  7. Airn

    Airn New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,044
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2
    Location:
    Bentonville, AR
    This is one of the many reasons I'm thankful for Chaz. While Gwen wasn't a 'puppy' when we got her (she was around 8 months old), I decided to still do some things with her that you would with a puppy. I constantly messed with her face, feet, tail, just any part of HER in general. (Except the lady parts. I don't think I'll ever need to go THERE.)

    I've taken her to get shots and she just stood there and let them do whatever they needed to do. I will say I think a lot of it is her reaction is also to 'shut down' when she's nervous, as well as the vet's handling of her. They are gentle and encourage you to talk to your dog to comfort her. One of the ladies even told me that she would hold her while they were doing the fecal test so that she wouldn't associate ME with shoving something up her butt. :rofl1: I thought that was considerate.

    She still doesn't like having her nails clipped. I have to do a few at a time. It's definitely a process but we've only done it twice now, so I'm sure she'll improve. (And I mistakenly started with a nail grinder, which really freaked her out and made little progress on her talons.)

    I wish more people would mess around with their dogs, ESPECIALLY if they're getting some 'poo. I'm not a groomer, but that has GOT to be one of those "Ugh... it's one of THOSE" moments. I felt bad when I left Gwen at the boarding place because I didn't how she'd react. And I didn't want her to be one of THOSE dogs.

    At least she's not a 'poo. :rofl1:
     
  8. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    It's frustrating when they come in at 12 weeks (or any age, really) already shrieking, flailing, and nipping. Especially when it's for a problem that needs to be addressed within a limited time period. If it's a well puppy visit at least you don't necessarily have to do anything involving restraint or procedures and can work to make it a positive experience. But if you have to do stuff like swab the ear, you just have to... do stuff like swab the ear.

    IMO the owner has to be really committed to working with you on desensitizing to handling. Sadly most people can't or won't come in between visits to work on it IME. If they won't, your hands are tied a little bit within the time constraints that you have. But at the very, very least you can interact with the puppy/dog using good "dog manners" and even that can win over some of these dogs enough to make the visit less traumatic for everyone.

    I would also suggest not doing stuff like that "in the back." Some dogs are better away from their owners, but hearing their dog screaming from elsewhere in the clinic is really stressful for people and will almost always lead to accusations of mistreatment.
     
  9. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    2 dogs (and 3 half dogs and a half cat)
    Location:
    Mississippi
    For blood draws, I think a lot of it is the restraint. Get the dog used to being held in a bear hug, with its leg out, and its vein rolled off. Get them used to sitting still with their head lifted up and having pressure on their neck for a jug stick. I would say at least 75% of the dogs that are "bad for blood draws" start flipping out as soon as you restrain them. They often don't notice the poke, or the draw, they just don't like the entire process. If you get them used to the restraint, then when they're poked they're already used to the process and you are only keeping them distracted from the poke (which chicken works nicely for!), not the entire process.

    I do try to keep things as positive for puppies as I can. I let them nibble on tasty treats during the "scary" parts of the exam and during the vaccines. If a pup is already screaming/biting with just very basic handling, we tell the owners they need to work on desensitizing it to the various things, or it won't mature to be a tolerant dog. If something has to be done, it has to be done. We just explain to the owners ahead of time what we are doing and how their dog is likely to react (He really doesn't like me even touching his ears, so he is probably going to throw a fit when I get this hair out. It won't hurt him, he just isn't going to like it. Once we get this cleaned up, it is going to be important to get him used to having his ears handled so he associates with posiitive things...")
     
  10. meepitsmeagan

    meepitsmeagan Meagan & The Cattle Dog Crew

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    3,378
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thank you! Unfortunately, Rider goes in tomorrow, so I don't have a ton of time. But I will work on that right now. I appreciate it.
     
  11. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Messages:
    7,788
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I don't know. It's kind of.... scream in the room with your owner (who would probably mostly get in the way), or scream from another room. The thing is, the woman was TOTALLY understanding when I brought the dog back to her. I mean I was pretty much thinking, oh God what's her reaction going to be like... but she apologized to ME. She was like "I am sooo sorry she acted like that and that you guys had to deal with it." It was actually her husband that ended up calling us, he wasn't at the appointment. So I don't know if she got more upset about it later, or if he just didn't like the way she described it, or if nobody was upset until they started noticing behavior changes. Who knows. Of course, I don't know what the conversation between her and the vet was like before she brought the puppy back to us, either.

    Yes this, absolutely. As long as the dog accepts handling and is okay with strangers, blood draws are a breeze. Pretty much they only become difficult when the dog freaks out about being touched or held still. The needle itself is nothing, they don't mind the procedure itself. Most of the major freak outs happen as soon as you try to restrain them.


    Appreciate the input. We did advise the owners to work on desensitization and lots of positive experiences. Maybe from now on I'll just approach every single puppy with hands full of treats. I wish we had more lickable treats... maybe I'll see if we can keep a jar of peanut butter or something to put on tongue depressors. In this specific case I don't think the puppy would have cared about food, but for things like giving fluids or trimming nails it'd probably be a good enough distraction for them.
     
  12. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    We keep a jar of peanut butter and a couple of cans of Easy Cheese on hand. The Easy Cheese especially is nice because you can squirt a line right onto the exam table and do stuff while they're busy with it. (Obviously always have to ask first, though.)
     
  13. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Messages:
    7,788
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Mmm yeah that would be good too! Our treats we have right now suck lol. We just have dry Sister Joans treats which don't seem to be very tempting. Sometimes we'll use canned i/d but that's kind of wasteful if that's the only thing we're opening a can for.
     
  14. meepitsmeagan

    meepitsmeagan Meagan & The Cattle Dog Crew

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    3,378
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Michigan
    Oh! I'm so taking canned food. GENIUS.
     
  15. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    8,070
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Cats, Dog, Leopard Gecko, Gerbils, Fish, African C
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    That's how I cut Tucker's dew claws once, cream cheese smeared on a plate.

    But this is my greatest fear about taking Tucker to the vet, that it will make his aggression worse, make him quicker to bite, and bring back the long distance human reactivity he had when he was younger. I have to see if the vet will let us bring him by repeatedly over the summer to hang out, but I feel like even with that I'd still need the vet himself to participate and I don't know if any of them will do that for free.
     
  16. Barb04

    Barb04 Love my pets Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    27,408
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Tennessee
    I agree that some vets just don't know how to handle puppies. One of my dogs was only 10 weeks old with an ear infection. He didn't want his ear touched and squirmed. The vet told us we'd better do obedience with him or not bring him back again since they don't tolerate this kind of behavior. The dog was their for an ear infection not just a friendly visit. Of course it wasn't feeling good and didn't want the ear touched; I did not like that place after that.
     
  17. DJEtzel

    DJEtzel New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    3,266
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    My thought on the matter is that it's all up to the owner... Training, socialization, etc. go a LONG WAY... And taking treats with you to the vet, imo, is a necessity. ESPECIALLY for puppies. So it sounds like the dog is already being failed...

    By that age, Recon had already been handled daily by me as far as ears, teeth, butt, etc. and had met probably 100-300 people in a safe manner with a lot of praise and reward. We went to the vet for the third and fourth times last week, he had xrays done out of the room and a blood draw for HW done in the room. Well he already knows how to lay down and is comfortable with people touching him, so he didn't even need to be restrained for the blood draw, I was just popping treats into his mouth from a down position. For the xrays the techs just took some of my treats and had him lay down and stay on the table. Again, no restraint needed.

    When we went to the rehab vet, then did need to roll him over and restrain him a bit because he was wiggly for some ROM measurements, but as I was popping treats into his mouth, he relaxed and stayed on his side without the tech restraining him.

    Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, small dog owners set their dogs up for this kind of behavior unknowingly, and don't do anything to counteract it once it starts happening.
     
  18. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Messages:
    7,788
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I don't know any clinic that would mind you popping over. I mean, you might not get a vet involved if they're busy, but a tech would probably be a suitable replacement.
     
  19. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    2 dogs (and 3 half dogs and a half cat)
    Location:
    Mississippi
    We are using the Heartguard "taste test" treats the reps gave us. Dogs go BONKERS for them, they are an awesome size to let dogs nom on them while still holding it in your hand, and you can squish them up into all kinds of shapes/pieces you need.

    And they are doing their purpose to - another tech said she sold three people on heartguard after they saw how their dog liked the treats. LOL
     
  20. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Maryland
    What about pups that don't take food when scared? Jackson's always been this way. He will NOT take food at the vets because he's THAT terrified. Typically even something good. He just is so nervous (he expresses his anal glands every time, like I said). But there's gotta be other dogs who won't take food? He also doesn't really like peanut butter that much.

    with that said, I'm thankful he's not a spazz, I don't worry about him biting or flailing for the most part, he's just *that* terrified which makes me feel incredibly bad.
     

Share This Page