Covid-19 has changed many things in our society and from the perspective of a dog trainer, one of the biggest things that have changed in the lives of dogs is that most veterinarians will not allow humans to enter the clinic.
This means that dogs will go into uncomfortable situations at a vet clinic and they will not have you there to support them.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve heard from many dog owners who have postponed taking their dog to the vet unless they had an extremely big emergency because their dogs were not capable of being handed off to someone they didn’t know.
If your dog is lacking in confidence or has aggression towards humans the most important thing you can do for them is to train them to accept a muzzle without trying to rip it off.
With my pre-covid clients, we could almost always avoid having to train a dog to have a muzzle on and the reason for that muzzle training takes a lot of time to do properly. Some people don’t like the way that a muzzle makes their dog look but in reality, it might be something that is helpful when your dog needs to go to the vet.
There are plenty of videos online including on my website on how to train your dog to accept the muzzle. And yet the vast majority of people with questionable dogs never attempt it or stop quickly if their dog doesn’t like it.
When your dog goes to the vet and does not have you there for moral support it is likely that they will make a bad decision if your dog has acted in such a way in the past. Obviously. If you’re able to handle your dog it’s a completely different story and as I said earlier muzzle training is not always something that’s needed. But in this case, many veterinarians will immediately send your dog home without veterinary care if your dog tries to bite someone. What’s worse is that some veterinarians will use four to six people to pin the dog on the ground and force a muzzle on which will make your life a lot more difficult in the future. This kind of handling will be perceived in a very negative manner to your dog and will make muzzle training and going to the vet exponentially more difficult.
After muzzle training, start walking your dog with a slip leash on. A slip leash is a leash and a collar all in one that essentially is used at most vet clinics so that the dog can’t back out of its collar. You might as well get your dog used to walking with one on so that it’s not such a big shock to them when they go to the vet and one is placed around their head.
With your slip leash and your muzzle on have somebody meet you on the street and handle the leash to them and have them walk away with your dog. The next step would be to do the same thing but walk your dog to their home hand them the leash and have them walk your dog inside their home while you stay outside. If they can take them in small rooms like the bathroom, this can help simulate a vet office.
Make sure that if somebody is helping you they are not making things worse by reinforcing your dog’s fear. Don’t use baby voices and affection with a scared dog because it will only make it worse. When the dog calms down they can try to put a treat through the muzzle if they feel confident to do so. They don’t need to do anything amazing but the dog needs to feel comfortable being handed off to someone else and have you go away.
I know all this seems like a terrible thing to do and like it will be stressful on your dog and in all honesty, it probably will be. But if your dog does not learn to deal with these stressful situations it could mean a lot more stress for your dog in the long term or being turned away in an emergency situation at a vet clinic when your dog needs to be seen.
Every day local vets are turning away dogs that try to bite the vet because they just don’t want to deal with dangerous situations like that.
I hope this blog has been helpful, so get on YouTube watch some videos, get yourself a properly fitted muzzle and a slip leash and get to work.