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Bear had an appointment for vaccines and a check up. We have used the same practice from the start. He always went right in, was easily led to a room, OK with handling, etc .

6 -8 weeks ago, he had a vaccine for kennel cough, and a nail trim. I did not go back with him. I did not hear whining or crying. He happily went with staff. He came out, tail wagging, seemed like nothing happened.

Last week, we headed back for remaining vaccines and a check up. He shook and screeched. Was hysterical like he was going to the death chamber. There was no consoling him. Staff saw he was escalating. Took him to the car. Made a new appt, this time trazodone was added.

He had the meds 1.5 hours before the new appointment as instructed. No affect. No calming or sign of sedation. He ran up to and through the door, realized where we were, and that was it. Attempts to muzzle made him more frantic, he would not take a treat. Just generally hysterical again. Back to the car for him.
I talked to the vet for a bit.

First, although we were told he was fine for the nail trim, turns out his chart says he was muzzled. So, this new behavior is not totally out of nowhere. It makes more sense now, but how do I get him past it at this point?

We cannot go vaccine free. He is 15 mo, due for rabies and distemper, and neuter is coming up as well. Vet believes this will help. My emotions are mixed. Seems behavior after can go either way. Vasectomy is not done here (was an option I was considering. Never knew neuter was so controversial,).

But I cannot even imagine getting him in for that or the behavior we could see after.

I do agree with the vet that an anti-anxiety med may be needed (he was not ready to do that yet), but how do I sort out what's fear snowballing from a bad experience and what's a biochemical imbalance that requires treatment?

I feel I need to try a new vet. I like this one but don't like that I was mislead. I have no issues with a vet using a muzzle when they feel there is a potential threat. They cannot anticipate how every dog might react. But why lie?

Is a new place a reasonable step? Home visit not office? Could that help? Or is there a stronger med, to knock him out 100% to get these critical items taken care of in the short termhere so we can try to resolve the rest? I even offered to do the injections myself but it was a no-go.

Sadly, I just started 1 on 1 work with a trainer. (Group classes only got us so far) But until he is current, that's on hold.

Any ideas, help, similar experiences that owners got turned around and how they did it..needed badly.

Thanks!
 

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In hind sight I cannot give any sure fire advice. I made sure to take my pups to the vet to stand on the scales every month. Not only did I get their weight but they learned that they wouldn't get poked each time they came in. Now when we go in they stand on the scale right away as if to say, "OK, I stood on that thing can we go now". So if you choose a new vet you may want to take a few walks in just to say hi, get a treat and leave.

By the way I almost never go without my dogs. My doc is very quick with a needle so that doesn't seem to bother my dogs as much as the vaccine that gets sprayed up the nose. That is the one my boy dreads. That and blood draws.
 

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I don't know if the following would work at 15 mo and your vet staff has to be willing to cooperate. Here's what I did with my current dog when she was a young pup.

I was taking her around to hardware stores, restaurants with patios, etc to socialize her. Someone suggested including the vet into that rotation. I discussed it with them before hand but I would stop by with my dog with no appointment or scheduled shots, exams, or tests. Sometimes we'd meet the staff, she'd get a treat, and then we'd leave. Sometimes we'd wait in the waiting area and then leave. Once they even offered to watch her so I left her behind the desk and drove around the block and came back in. The only thing we couldn't practice was going into an exam room. They have to wipe down / clean the room between every dog and that was too much to ask.

Basically the vet--at least entering the vet office--became just one more place we went together where positive things like treats happened. It worked well until I moved and she had her teeth cleaned years later. Something about going under anesthesia made her wary of the building ever since. But other than her general nervousness (she's a GSD-Norwegian Elkhound mutt if that matters) I think she does quite well at the vet.

Before someone says it, yes there was a risk bringing a dog to a vet's office just like there's a risk of visiting a friend in the hospital. She was post 4 mo so had all the basic shots and it was a risk I was willing to take to try to avoid vet panic issues.

(Just in case, never say "It's OK" or "Good boy" if he is freaking out and panicking. You are just using your positive trigger word(s) to reinforce that freaking out is a good thing to do. The typical advice is to say nothing. Words at that point just confuse a dog and you can't explain that the blood draw or vaccination is for his long term health. If you can get him to be calm in the office, treat, calm praise, and leave. Try to just wait out freak-outs. You might feel silly entering with a dog and leaving but he is likely going to need that behavior reinforced a bunch of times before you should even attempt bringing him into an exam room for an actual appointment.)
 

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In hind sight I cannot give any sure fire advice. I made sure to take my pups to the vet to stand on the scales every month. Not only did I get their weight but they learned that they wouldn't get poked each time they came in. Now when we go in they stand on the scale right away as if to say, "OK, I stood on that thing can we go now". So if you choose a new vet you may want to take a few walks in just to say hi, get a treat and leave.

I did pretty much the same.....go to the vet's office....have her stand on the scale a few times a month......plus she'd get loved on by the people working there....a few treats and we'd be on our way.


I think the numerous visits with no exams might have made a difference....never know for sure I guess.




SuperG
 

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OP... I think your problem started when as you said " I did not go back with him"....far too many practices IMO have so called vet techs that don't have a clue....it does my dog or yours any good if they're trying to "learn" on you dog if you've ever actually watched some of the attempts to draw blood...you know what I mean--you AND your dog are better off if you stay by his side.....in your case dull or inadequate nail clippers...or someone who didn't know how to use them....or someone who's simply afraid of large dogs--they always sense fear and react accordingly......there have been times when I've said ----"Stop !! what you're doing and we'll wait for the vet----I know he knows what he's doing !!"......is that harsh--mean--rude ???
yes to all the above....your dog can't speak to tell you what happened or what he feels....but in my case I'll always have their back---in the same way I know inside they'd always have mine.
 

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I'm a huge fan of the new Fear Free Handling movement among veterinary professionals. It's a certification process to teach techniques of distraction, de-escalation, counter-conditioning and stress reduction -- for both dogs and cats. I've watched the change in how the work in the room with the animal as one of my regular clinics got all the vets and techs certified, and it's absolutely lovely -- they have a big "bag of tricks" to explore to make things better for the animal, and it's a high priority for all the staff in these certified clinics:
https://fearfreepets.com/resources/toolbox/


The website has a directory you can search to find a certified vet. They also have a pet owner part of their site with videos of how to prepare and handle your own vet to make a vet visit easier.



Here's a video explaining the philosophy change for the clinics that are adopting it:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Still struggling. After we found out the dog had a bad experience at the current vet with a nail trim about 8 weeks before we went for vaccines, and found trazadone not effective enough, we tried a second vet. Trazodone, gabapentin and acepromazine, then the next attempt phenobarbital and gabapentin and again -no luck. Even sedated, the muzzle is a no go. Waiting in the car in the parking lot of the second vet picking up meds, he was literally hysterical. Shaking, whining, trying to hide. He was inside that building only once and nothing was done.

I have a behaviorist coming for an initial visit Sunday. Hoping she can help. I really wish 1) that I had gone back with him, and 2) the vet had been honest. (Hindsight is 20/20).

Had I known, I could have been working on desensitization. (No sign of fear at all the day he had his nails cut. He happily went with the tech). Not knowing there were issues, it's definitely escalated. I called a couple mobile vets but they don't feel they can do anything at this point.

I can't get a vet to put him completely out, until they can listen to his heart. I can't give him the rabies shot as the state wont recognize it. Just want the vaccines, then there's time to work on this (about a year). Anyone ever had a dog so suddenly, heartbreakingly, and deeply fearful? What did you do?

Thank-you.
 

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Hopefully the behaviorist will be able to help....the suggestions from the other members will work but it will take repeated visits and TIME....walk him around outside the vet practice back in the go home maybe stop at a chicken or burger place and get him a "treat"---next visit maybe inside to the front desk if there's someone working he likes get them to give him a treat-then take him home--next time weigh him when you go then leave and go home...it may take several visits to even get him close to the front door...once again TIME and repetition...take treats that he likes with you give him some then leave and go home.....the point is he must have pleasant visits and plenty of them to get past his "toe nail" expierence...won't be easy but it's doable given time....I've never had to deal with what you're going through-but as I said before I stay with my dogs because of a "blood drawing" incident I witnessed years ago with 2 vet techs ??---the worst "vet phobia" I've had to deal with over the years is fear of the slick floors in a few.. which is even worse in an older arthritic dog.


Frankly I'm surprised none of the mobile vets were willing to pay a visit to your home on the dog's home turf...so to speak IMO that should have a good chance of working if handled right---further it may not be something your vet does but all the vets where we go will make "house calls" if given advance notice....any way good luck and work very very hard inside your own head not to show nerves-fear or anxiety when you're with your boy at or near the vets office--believe me your dog will sense it...
 

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---the worst "vet phobia" I've had to deal with over the years is fear of the slick floors in a few.. which is even worse in an older arthritic dog.
My dobie always loved going to the vet, but she also hated the slick, tile floors as she got older. I carried a little rug with us...just a little 2'x3' door mat...to set down on the floor so she could stand or sit with confidence and not worry about her feet sliding out from under her.

To the OP....I'm also surprised (and confused?) about why the mobile vet situation wouldn't work, especially for something as simple and as important as a rabies shot. What is it about the situation that they can't work with?
 

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My shiba got fearful like this after his neuter. I can only assume something happened during his neuter. He can still be muzzled, so we're just dealing with it.

Is there a way to train him to accept a muzzle before you take him in? Like maybe every time you go for a walk, he gets muzzled that way he doesn't think muzzle means vet time? A basket muzzle is easier to deal with than those fabric ones that clamp the mouth shut.
What about a health clinic at Tractor Supply Co or PetSmart/PetCo or the local animal shelter might do one at another location?

One thing I will say is, I really don't think neutering him will help with this situation. I hope the behaviorist can help. :frown2:
 

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Most behaviorists are not going to be able to help you. I've never met a person who called themselves a behaviorist who knew what they were doing when it comes to something like this. A good trainer could help.

Basically, you'll need to interrupt and punish this behavior, then counter-condition the dog. At this point, it would be years of frequent visits to make the dog comfortable at the vet (if it worked at all).

Try to find a vet who will work with you for rabies. Some state laws say "under supervision" of a veterinarian, allowing some room for interpretation but that is between you and the vet.

Some vets will allow you to inject a short acting sedative under their watch, then the vet can give the dog the vaccines.

If the vet won't work with you, find another.

Muzzle training is a must. There are plenty of videos on how to online.
 

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Why can't the regular vet come out to your car to give vaccines?





The best "cure" I had was a "rescue" who loved the vets. His "hot ****! look where we are!!" attitude rubbed off on my older dog. (The vet saved his life because he injured when I found him and he knew it. He loved every vet.)


Subsequent pup, picked it up and was joyful at the vets to the point of clearing their counters. Present dogs do much better if they wait in the large waiting room and then go into the exam room. They do real well if there are people in the waiting room who pay attention to them.



One thing I will say do not let vet staff "coo" at your dog. Vet staff and vets have a hard time realizing it, but that can make dogs very upset. Another thing is people holding and "soothing" their dogs seems only to make them (the dogs) more nervous/apprehensive about the place.
 

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I think at this point there is a priority if Bear is at or past the 1yr mark for a Rabies booster if it is required by law in your state. I think that there isn't any way around getting that shot with out physical restraint. Get the muzzle on however you have to do it and get the shot done. I would normally never suggest this but Bear is on the radar because of the accidental bite during play and needing stitches in one of your other posts. If another mishap bite wound happens and he is past due with law enforced Rabies shot he's going to be taken away. Get the shot done then deal with the rest.

If you have a good rescue in your area, ask them who they use for a vet. A rescue vet probably has a lot more experience with out of control dogs and probably has a few techniques of their own that can get the job done. Let them know what you're up against. Let them know that your dog was a happy well mannered pup prior to the clipping.

Try googling German shepherd rescues in you area.

Also, since Bear was so good before that day, there isn't anything biochemical about it other than fear induced hormones/natural chemicals that are normally released in the body during a trigger that causes it.

If I were in the same boat and my guy was on radar due to a bite history, I would restrain my boy myself if that's what it took.. And fwiw, I am so sorry for Bear and you. It should never have happened.
 

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What have you done to get him used to being handled, examined, nails trimmed, and the like? In addition to the fear free vet recommendation above, I suggest this class online class about Cooperative Care. https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/2392 It covers lots of things to help you prepare your dog for vet visits, and to make things safer for both him and whomever needs to handle him.
 

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No neutering is not going to help with this situation. I would have him get used to being handled at home by you. If you can do your own nail trims and bring in stool sample so they don’t have to go in and take the stool will all require all less man handling by the vet- making the visit less stressful as possible. I had a dog who disliked nail trims and vet visits were tough. When I got my gsd pups I learned to get them used to their nails being trimmed regular by me. It helps in the long run. Like car2ner said bring your dog in to get weighed with some treats. Frequently. In and out making sure you go their and they have more easy good visits then stressful ones. Find a vet that is comfortable with german shepherds and understand less is more with this breed especially. It makes a tremendous difference -not all vets are comfortable with certain breeds and german shepherds do not make the best patients. The first week we had max as a pup he was 8 weeks old and terribly manhandled by our trusted vet and staff. it was awful they took him in the back to be crated because he was whining. There was a lot of confusion and construction going on that day to at the vet outside also. I’m glad that did not get embedded in his head. I asked my trainer which vet was good with german shepherds and went there. Night and day max next pup vaccine visit was smooth and not stressful. He did not even cry or wince at a vaccine. The less manhandling the better. Something very off about our last vet. Some vets are not comfortable with german Shepherds period. Max had a few surgery procedures due to just rough crazy play - swallows corn cobs , sticks in tonsils, hole in toe he still tolerates the vet he is not comfortable being on that table after all those situations - I can see it in his face and body language but powers through. I just think all the regular handling ear cleanses and nail trims and checking teeth by me absolutely helped max and Luna and make them more comfortable at the vet. I’m just going to repeat dogs really hate the nail trims at the vet’s office. it is the worst experience for them at the vet and it will be often be the deciding factor often how they accept going to the vets office- believe this. If you can get him used to his nail trims and do it yourself and if you feel more comfortable using a muzzle use a basket muzzle at home. it would make the vet visits less stressful and less exhausting for everyone. Making sure your dog gets the best care if the need arises can be daunting if he is constantly fighting the help. He will be greatful in the long run. There is also nail dremeling some dogs maybe most prefer nail dremeling. There are many threads YouTube information on how to get your dogs used to and how to dremel.
https://youtu.be/MuXwKqXTBsE
http://milesandemma.com/how-to-dremel-dog-nails/
 

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Sorry that you and your boy are having to deal with this! Fear issues are tough.

As a CVT with over a decade of experience, and also as an owner of an extremely fearful and touch-sensitive dog, I've experienced these issues firsthand many times, both as an owner and as a veterinary professional. This is what I've learned.

First off, Magwart and LeoRose have both provided some really good resources. I'd definitely take a look at the links they provided. In addition, take a look at Laura Monaco Torelli's YouTube videos about training dogs to voluntarily allow veterinary procedures. The chin rest behavior that she demonstrates is very good for situations that you might run into at a vet clinic.

When choosing a vet, be sure to work with one implementing the fear-free protocols that Magwart linked to. Veterinarians who are familiar with these protocols will be able to better assist you in working with your dog. If your dog's behavior is as extreme as you are describing, your vet most likely won't be able to handle your dog right away, but should offer support and be willing to work with you to achieve that goal.

If there are procedures that need to be done in a timely manner (ie, the rabies vaccine) consider enlisting the services of a mobile vet, just in case it's the setting that is the issue.

The best approach with a fearful dog, especially one as panicked as yours, is slow, systematic desensitization coupled with teaching coping behaviors. Please don't punish his fear displays. This will only make things worse.

Purchase a basket muzzle, and work on getting him used to wearing it at home and while out and about before trying it at the vet. Start with short, low stress outings to the vet. Drive to the vet and sit in the parking lot, in the vehicle for a few minutes, feeding treats. Then progress to walking around outside, again, with high value food rewards. Then walk into the lobby, and walk back out before trying to interact. Gradually progress to using the scale, sitting in the waiting room, etc.

Utilizing a veterinary behaviorist is an excellent idea. The key word here is veterinary. Lots of trainers throw around the term behaviorist without a full understanding of what such a title entails. There are two instances where the title of behaviorist is appropriate. The first is an applied animal behaviorist, which involves years of study and a PhD. The second is a Veterinary Behaviorist, which is a veterinarian who specializes in behavior. For the extreme fear that you describe, I would contact a veterinary behaviorist.

I've enlisted the help of a veterinary behaviorist when dealing with my fearful girl, and the information and help given was invaluable. I can't recommend it enough. In addition to providing insight as to what is going on and why, veterinary behaviorists can also prescribe medications that can help during the behavior modification process. With my fearful dog, we started with a calming supplement during training, and weaned off of it after a few months of work. We also had plans in place for the use stronger medications if need be, but it wasn't neccessary in our case.

Hope this helps a little, and let me know if anything I mentioned needs clarification or if you have other questions :)
 

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I never let the technicians at the vet take my dog back. When I have had to have a dog x-rayed, they have me put on the vest and I help hold and position the dog. I hold my dog around the neck when they draw blood. My last dog had to be muzzled at the vet, but you have to be able to manage him and that comes through obedience. I am a big believer in trimming your own dog's nails. IMO, if you can't do that, you most likely can't manage your dog.
 

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Is there another family member Bear does well with that could take him to the vet? If you have any reservation at all when you take him your dog will pick up on it and add to any stress he may already have.
 

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Like @Magwart I am also a huge fan of the force-free handling! And a fan of Dr. Sophia Yin.

I used positive methods to train my dog to wear a muzzle. Once he would wear a muzzle, I can then give some trazodone before the exam, slip his muzzle on while we are in the waiting room, and then he is securely muzzled while vet does her thing. (Last time, quick exam/shots/blood draw for heartworm test...uncomfortable stuff).

In an ideal world yes, my vet would be Dr. Sophia Yin (she passed away)...but in the real world, I settle for him not biting anybody.

That's sad that your dog was so friendly and trusting, expecting only good things from humans, and then his trust was 'betrayed'.
 

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I suggest you get a dremel and do your dog's nails at home. I have a home vet visit and it's been awesome and trauma free for my dog. See what home visit vets are in your area, and have him or her visit a few times without doing any 'scary' stuff to your dog.
 
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