Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

I have a dog that has become unable to go to the vet's office.
Dog was fine until about 6 months ago he was seriously hurt and needed to be takenfor treatment. She REALLY hurt him examining his injury and he freaked out BIG TIME.
Next time I took him for annual I could not get him in the office. She had to come out while I stood next to the dog by the car, muzzled to administer shots.
So today I played his favorite game at the park, frisbee to make him happy, practiced many commands, with treats, etc. so he is good and happy and exercised . Call the vet, coming by to just "weigh" him- practicing going and conditioning him hopefully this way. So I lure him and praise him and have frisbee for distraction - we hit the front entrance and he "flips out" as soon as he realizes where he is. Bolting with me hanging onto the lead for dear life back to the car.

Take deep breaths, take other dog in for practice, she is not happy to be there but goes in and out for weighing fine . Back to him, he comes out we play frisbee, ever closer to the door and bam he freaks again.
So I ask vet (same one) to come out while I have him on lead in the yard out front. He barks at her and she completely ignores him, I give her treats and frisbee, He finely will take a treat and do commands for her but will only take treat by Catching not directly from her hand.
So now I am getting frustrated and put him back in car.,
I need to get this worked out-never had a dog so.... completely freaked out and stressed I couldn't even get him in the door., I have to be able to desensitize him to her office.
I told her I would just keep coming back over and over for a long time to get him past this.
Any suggestions, she mentioned a pheromone collar to soothe him.Anyone used this? I personally think he is way beyond what a collar would help. I do not want to have to end up sedating him every time he has to go to the vets.


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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 07:16 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

Jasper had surgery on his elbows a few years back. Prior to having his surgery, he was always fine going to the vets.

His surgery was done at a vet specialist, and after the surgery he has never been comfortable on his trips to the vets.

I don't know if he had a bad experience, or just the entire experience was abit too difficult for him.

I take him monthly for Adequan injections, so I have to deal with it monthly.

Basically he is very nervous, he shakes alot, and is always looking in the direction of all noises (especially the door that leads to were he gets his shot).

I can understand that maybe its a pain association thing , either way, I never pet him, or comfort him while he is in this state of mind.

I also don't let others pet him, or talk to him.

I do walk him back (instead of letting the vet tech), and I always ask them to just do their thing.

We did try a more positive approach with liver treats, however he won't eat them....

And petting him just stressed him out more, so that is why I take the approach I do.

I think the ones (dogs) that have a true fear, are just to smart for coexing, so I just try to utilize good energy (because they seem to pick up on it so easy), and walk him in, let the vet know I am there, and go sit down (I keep him next to me, with no petting or speaking to him), I won't reinforce his fearful anxiety.

I also don't give him any eye contact, they see through that as well (I think they pick up on our built up anxiety from knowing that our dog will have problems at the vets office).

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 07:19 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

Just thinking...

Do you have another Vet's office that you could just do a walk in? See if it is actually the building or smells that is triggering the response.

Is there a different entrance you could use. I know my Vet would be willing to work with us to get a dog through it's problems.

I don't think a ComfortZone collar will help, you need more snoothing than the collar can give. You might want to think about a T-Shirt or Body Wrap, use it for a while until the dog learned to relax.

I would just work on getting the dog comfortable in the building, just even going in a sitting, no vet, no scales, just work on relaxation things like TTouch. Once the dog was comfortable then I would do the scale, more times then see wht happens when the Vet comes in.

Val


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 10:29 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

This sounds a bit like the dog is not really convinced that the owner is the pack leader. I think that working with a trainer or a behaviorist might be a good thing. When the dog really believes in you and is convinced that you are worthy of his trust, he does not question your judgement as to what he should do or where he should go.
In our vet office, we certainly have many dogs come in who are in pain and our exams are not always pleasant for them. Some dogs are well adjusted and take everythng with aplomb, some are unsettled and afraid, but removing them from the owner seems to settle them, sometimes they need to be muzzled, sometimes not. Then there are those whose owners announce immediately, uh, he/she will bite me. Well, let me think here, what is wrong with this picture? The dog will bite the owner.... and we are supposed to be able to examine and treat it. Sometimes, simply removing it from the owner is all that is needed, sometimes they are way over the top and have to be sedated. It is all up to the owner...

A possibility with this dog is that the dog is feeding off the owner's concept that the dog was hurt and therefor the owner is exuding the aura that this is a "bad place".

I don't know what your speicifc particulars may be, but this is a commonly seen phenomena.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 11:01 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

With some dogs even being the pack leader doesn't help them. The panic is so deep in them that you can't break through the haze for them to be able to listen or obey.

I would come up with a desensitizing plan, it isn't going to happen over night, but hopefully you will start seeing progess even if it just in little bits. Maybe you program starts with just drving in the parking lot at the Vet, not even getting out of the vehicle. The after a few times it is out of the Vehicle and a few steps, try to get your returning to the vehicle before the dog panics. Just keep working and extending what you are asking, 1/2 way to the building, 3/4 of the way to the building, just keep building.

Val


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 11:19 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

I agree with Val. I have had dogs who were fearful from a negative experience and it didn't matter how confident I was when they were off in that fear zone. I have had several thunder phobic dogs and once the storm started there was no reaching them.

You want to start counter-conditioning/desensitizing/redirecting and do it very, very slowly. I think the reason it hasn't worked is because the experience was so traumatic that trying to fix it quickly ended up flooding your dog.

I also agree that trying a different entrance is a good idea and might be a quicker fix.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

Wisc. Tiger
Desensitizing is the plan of action I was using today. Probably just that I am way too impatient expecting him to come around more quickly.
None of the almost dozen shepherds I have had previously have reacted this badly to a vet's office and some have been hurt as well as this dog was. But obviously they are all different.

We did get in the door the first time, then panic. After that within 5 feet of door before distractions stopped working and the panic set in.
As you suggest trying the back entrance which he is unfamiliar with may work.
I have never once had to muzzle a dog before this at the vets. He has never bitten anyone or ever given any indication that he would. But because he was so freaked out that day he was hurt and the reaction to her hurting him was so over the top she felt muzzling him would be best as this was extremely different behaviour for him.


As far as him and trust go , I believe he trusts ME completely just not that he is not going to get hurt by the vet at the vet's office and mistrusts them and the place!

Now my opinion is more desensitizing - my husband's is hobble him/carry him in - make him know that he IS going in no matter what.
What do you think about that? I said I can not physically pick him up and carry him while controlling a completely freaked out dog could you? He said yes!


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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-28-2008, 11:40 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

I have had to carry my Chama into the vet's office a couple of times and it certainly did not help her get over her fear!

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-29-2008, 01:32 AM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

Your husband is WRONG. I can't say it loudly enough. Absolutely do not force the dog into the vet's office.
And yes, you are right, you were way too impatient. Try to get rid of that. I wouldn't even try to go in the next several times. I'd make going by, going up to the door, working around the office just part of your routine. I'd go out there at least once a week, preferably twice a week. I'd do that for a month. Then I'd think about opening the door and sticking my head in & popping back out. Interspersed with working around the building & walking past.
I think you see where I am going with this.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-29-2008, 03:03 PM
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Re: Terrified to go to the vets and panics completely

Unless it is an emergency then I wouldn't take your DH's suggestion.

If you have time, if one of my dogs was that bad I would make time, just as middle said we would go to the Vet's office, me may or may not even get out of the Vehicle, we may or may not walk half way or all the way to the door. Baby Steps - Baby Steps. Also don't be afraid to back up a step in the progress.

Force will just re-enforce the fear problem and trigger it sooner or it will start showing in different things, like relectuant or unhappy about getting in the vehicle, having problems riding when before there were none.

Always remember to end your training desensitizing program before the dog gets too stressed and make it a happy ending, lots of treats. Something scared this dog really bad, IMHO once some dogs discover that deep deep fear place the quicker they go to it. So now is the time to just relax, any small step is a step forward. Pushing too hard, going too fast will just make the recovery time longer.

Val


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