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I have to say, Dexter has come a long way. Because of the advice on this board, I've been able to navigate Dexter's adolescent hiccups. But I still have one issue that I can't get a handle on...the vet.

Some of you may not remember, but Dexter snapped at the vet when he was 11 months old. He had a sore on his nose that the vet wanted to look at. We ended up muzzling him, and he was fine. So he was due for his rabies shot and heartworm test. When I called to make the appointment, I informed them he may need a muzzle.

Now I exercised Dexter before the visit to lessen any anxiety. I went to the visit and weighed him (he's now 17 months and 75lbs). The techs came out and pet him. He had no issue with any of that. He willingly went up to them to sniff and check everything out. No signs of fear (avoidance, lip licking, yawning). We went into the exam room. I told them when it came time for the needles, he would need to be to be muzzled. I also suggested I leave the room in case Dexter was feeding off my anxiety...so I did. Five minutes later they came out and asked me to muzzle him because he wouldn't let them do it. They said he was snarling at them. They thought they would be able to handle him without a muzzle if I left the room. Nope. I went in and muzzled him no problem and left the room again. They came out a short while later and said they got the blood draw and gave the shot. I asked how...lol. They said Dexter allowed them to do it once he was muzzled. I asked if he needed any type of sedative for the next visit. They said no. He was very manageable for them with the muzzle.

When the vet came in Dexter stayed close to me. But he took treats from the vet and tech (whom he previously snarled at). He did a sit and down for them at their request. Dexter looked at me before he would do anything for them. The tech commented that he looks to me for everything.

What I've noticed is that Dexter is fine with people. He goes up to new people to sniff and then will ignore them. He is not overly interested in strangers, which is part of the breed standard. I actually like that. However, he does not like to be manhandled by strangers. He will growl and most likely bite.

How worried should I be? Do I need to do something so that he can be handled by the vet? What do you guys do with similar issues? How normal is this? The funny thing? The techs wrote "Awesome Dog" in his chart because he was so good there as a puppy. The vet showed me. LOL
 

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Ok. So career and credentialed vet tech here.

Your boy is normal. And THANK YOU, for letting them know a muzzle may be needed.

If I were you, I would start doing muzzle training at home. Turn it into a game and let him get used to and like having it on.

Then YOU put it on from the get go at the vets. Don't let them try to do stuff with out. Also put it on at odd times at home and during normal activities so he does not associate it with the vets office.

Also, take him to to vets for fun visits. The only time we see pets involves needle pokes, anal glands, ear cleaning, bad stuff. So they have zero good experiences with us. So give him good experiences.

There is not a single vet that won't let you come in and have the staff stuff him full of treats. I would probably go further and pay for the Dr time to come in and just give him treats and then leave, along with the techs. The good has to outweigh the bad.

My GSD have come to work with me every day. So it's a good place. Because 99.9 percent of the time, they get fawned over and loved on. So the one time they get a needle, it's a one off to them.

I know most people can't do that. Lol.

But even the odds a bit.

I would also pay fir a techs time, to walk you through common things that he needs to tolerate. Ask them to show you the basic holds for blood draws, ear cleaning, exams, so you can practice at home and turn these scary things into a positive.
 

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Ok. So career and credentialed vet tech here.

Your boy is normal. And THANK YOU, for letting them know a muzzle may be needed.
Thank you so much for weighing in! And, you're welcome...lol. I know I would want to be told. Ha! I worked at a dog boarding facility in my teens. I loved the people who were honest about their dog's behavior. It made it so much easier if you knew what to expect!

If I were you, I would start doing muzzle training at home. Turn it into a game and let him get used to and like having it on.

Then YOU put it on from the get go at the vets. Don't let them try to do stuff with out. Also put it on at odd times at home and during normal activities so he does not associate it with the vets office.
The thought crossed my mind. He didn't seem to mind the muzzle the last time so I didn't think I had to prep him. This time, he was also fine with it...it just had to be me who put it on him. I think the reason I didn't proactively put the muzzle on him before I left the room is that I thought the problem may have been me. That's why I left the room. Well, now I know he's like that with or without me. lol Although the tech said he got more anxious after I left the room. I will definitely muzzle him beforehand now. Would you recommend I stay in the room going forward?

Also, take him to to vets for fun visits. The only time we see pets involves needle pokes, anal glands, ear cleaning, bad stuff. So they have zero good experiences with us. So give him good experiences.

There is not a single vet that won't let you come in and have the staff stuff him full of treats. I would probably go further and pay for the Dr time to come in and just give him treats and then leave, along with the techs. The good has to outweigh the bad.

My GSD have come to work with me every day. So it's a good place. Because 99.9 percent of the time, they get fawned over and loved on. So the one time they get a needle, it's a one off to them.
I've done this with all my dogs including Dexter. I'm there at least once a month to weigh him, to have them give him treats, play with him around the room, pick up flea/tick/heartworm meds - nothing traumatic. All my previous dogs have loved the vets after this type of exposure. My GSD/Rottie mix would fall asleep in the waiting room full of barking dogs. Of course this is my first purebred GSD. Dexter is also the first that just doesn't like to be manhandled by a stranger. So I'm not quite sure how to get him over that if it's partly breed specific.

I would also pay fir a techs time, to walk you through common things that he needs to tolerate. Ask them to show you the basic holds for blood draws, ear cleaning, exams, so you can practice at home and turn these scary things into a positive.
Would this work if Dexter already allows me to do these things myself? I clean his ears, brush his teeth, trim his nails, give him baths, give him medicine. His issue is he won't let a stranger do these things to him. I can reach in his mouth and get a chicken bone out if needed. At the vets I showed them I could open his mouth, reach inside, touch his ears and paws with nary an issue. But a vet? Heck to the no.

I wonder if I just have to resign myself to the fact that he will need to be muzzled at the vets and he will never like it. LOL
 

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Yes, yes, what s/he said! A million years ago I was a vet tech at an animal hospital in Boston, and my dog frequently came to work with me, and liked a lot of the vets and techs I worked with. And their treats! She loved her vet exams. She never needed a muzzle, though once an exam began she would whip her head around so fast it looked like a bite coming. Never, though - she just wanted to watch, quietly and intently, whatever her friend was doing to her. Always curious and happy to hold still and participate. I think she thought it was a weird kind of petting.

I’d forgotten how easy she was at the vet, compared to Beau. Thanks, gsdsar, for the reminder. You are absolutely right - familiarity and fun make it so much easier for them, and consequently, for us.
 

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Familiarity may eventually allow him to relax his guard. And practicing the hold for a blood draw at home might eventually let him feel less worried when someone holds him during his vet visit. So even if he has to use a muzzle, the holds and procedures will be familiar and he may be less stressed.
 

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Ok. So I can't figure out to quote within a quote. So hopefully this makes sense.

I recommend you stay in the room. While yes, there are a few dogs that are truly better without their owner, most dogs "act" better because they are terrified and frozen in fear or striking out.

My puppy can be a pill at the vet fir certain things. I am never the one holding hom(I work specialty so have a separate primary vet). But you are darn tooting if abd when he gets jerky, I step in and tell him "knock it off". And he does. He trusts me. He wants me there with the scary stuff. They all do. Don't "abandon him to strangers to go through scary painful stuff. Be there and be calm and he will hopefully feed off that.

No GSD likes to be manhandled. Tell the tech and Dr that he is a "less is more" dog. If he is muzzled they should be able to do minimal restrain. Dogs like GSD don't like feeling that they are not in control and will often panic and strike out if they lose their autonomy. I generally restrain by placing a hand on the collar and draw their body into my legs.

In regards to getting him used to procedures. Yes. He needs to generalize. So pay fir a tech appointment, have the teach you how to hold(have him muzzled) and go through an exam. With LOTS of breaks and treats and being free!

If he ends up being a dog that needs a muzzle. That fine. It's no failure on your part. It does not say anything about him as a dog. It just is. Own it. Recognize it. And make it a fun part of the visit.
 
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In addition to the excellent advice you've gotten so far, I'd strongly encourage you to buy your own basket muzzle and use it. Here's an example:

https://www.chewy.com/omnipet-itali...yScXDGAEVED_A73A1lcEx3JRooK0yO5BoCO58QAvD_BwE

I think that the muzzles that many vets use is too narrow and too restrictive (dog can barely pant or drink water). That, in turn, makes many dogs more, rather than less, reactive.

With your own basket muzzle, you can easily train him at home, without the time constraints of an office visit. Once he's comfortable, at home, take him for walkies or run errands with him wearing the muzzle. Ultimately, you want the muzzle to be NBD, that can go anywhere as a "fashion statement."

I'm coming to the belief that ALL dogs should be trained to wear a muzzle. Not because all dogs will need them, but because emergencies aren't the best time to intro new equipment.

Aly
 
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