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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday we brought Rumo for a nail trim and when the groomer picked up his back leg, he growled and snapped at her. She told me to leave, that he might be better without me there.
But my cell phone rang in 2 minutes and she told me it was hopeless - it will need to be done at vet's office under sedation.
So I took him back, but I keep thinking about his Stranger Danger issues...

Rumo will not allow strangers to handle him:

- he has growled at strangers if they reach to pet while he is laying down (I no longer let random people do this)
- he growled at the vet tech when she tried to look in his ear (and he takes trazodone before vet visits)
- when my neighbor (after chatting with me) stuck his hand in front of Rumo's nose and wiggled his fingers, Rumo growled and snapped at his hand
- on his shelter record, it said that he could not be touched. he was labeled "for rescue only"
- he will not allow a stranger to lead him away on leash. will plant his feet until dragged
- he will not accept a treat from a stranger


Yet in our daily life, his behavior with strangers is fine...

- on walks, passes strangers calmly and silently (even with nose a few inches from their leg)
- will stand quietly by me or lie down while I talk to somebody
- in public spaces, will settle nearby & is relaxed, as long as people ignore him
- will bark at door, but will go lie down once I make it clear that it's a friend/client
- with a slow intro, will allow my friends or my children's friends to pet him

It's only when strangers (i.e. vet, vet tech, groomer) need to touch/handle him that he growls and snaps. He can be pretty scary.


I am stuck here, and have been stuck ever since we adopted him.
All his behavior that I can personally "oversee" (house manners, leash manners, etc) is great.
But how to teach him to let strangers handle him (look in his ears, lift his paws, perform medical procedures) ...??

Or do I just chalk this off / accept it as his nature,
and accept that I will be sedating him (or muzzling him) whenever he needs handling by strangers?

Thank you for any thoughts!



PS I guess I will be getting good at nail trims.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh, and I wanted to add, here's why I feel like I can't fix things myself!

I look in Rumo's ears all the time, he likes it when I stroke and scratch inside his ears.
When vet tech looked in his ear, he growled at her.

I can touch and handle his paws.
When groomer lifted his paw, he growled and snapped.

I of course can pet him on the head, and his ears go flat and he smiles.
Let a stranger do it, and he will growl and be very scary.

So my handling him, does not seem to make it any easier for other people to handle him! :-(
 

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wow, I understand though. yup, get good at doing his nails. Keep family and friends from interacting with him unless he initiates the interaction. Add a healthy dose of patience. See if you can find controlled situations were you can work on desensitization. Ask the vet how they want you to handle things. I'm sure he's not the first or last dog that complains at the vet techs. Let us know how it goes.
 

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I would just train him to accept wearing a muzzle.My guy detests any attention from strangers also_Of course he hates the vet's office so last time he got immunizations we went to tractor supply.It was much less traumatic.I stood by his head and he jerked when the vet touched him but it was done in two seconds.No chance to get upset:)I do his nails myself.
 

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Sometimes it helps not to give them a choice, and at least some of the time, they do better that way.

First, train the dog to wear a good basket muzzle. To the point that the dog is pretty content in the muzzle because you don't want frustration from the muzzle contributing.

Then learn how to restrain the dog, and recruit a helper to train it to be handled under restraint with muzzle. Start with minor easy, short, non painful stuff. Just let the dog know it does not get to have an opinion and protesting won't help. if possible end the session if the dog stops protesting for a second.

an un muzzled dog who isn't restrained properly snaps at someone and they usually jump back and then the owner pulls the dog away. So the dog learns that's how to get out of the situation. If you just put a muzzle on them and let them know that isn't going to work anymore sometimes you can teach them to just tolerate simple stuff without a lot of hoopla.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, I have a basket muzzle. I will get serious about having him practice wearing it more often!

Good point -
When he growled and snapped at the poor groomer, of course she jerked back and gave up...so he got his way.
Unfortunately I think he learned, "hey, this works to get these meddling strangers away from me!"
So I think he is just going to keep acting like this (or get even worse) if nothing changes.

In general, I guess he will have to be drugged and/or muzzled and/or restrained when strangers need to seriously handle him. It is what it is...

( I did not have him as a puppy - I got him as a middle-aged dog with some kind of negative history(?) - so I don't know how much I can change his behavior unless I get some very patient dog pros who are willing to work with us! Vet and I already had a conversation at his first visit, and she said that he will need to take two trazodone (sedative) before vet visits. Last visit, she reported that worked fine. But I am always nervous once they take him back there. I'm always relieved when I get him back and nobody is bleeding...)


Will work on muzzle training, that will be a lot easier than training him to accept handling!
(re Nail trims: I hate it, but I can do it. I was very willing to pay $10 to get out of that chore, though! :)

Thanks again.
 

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Accepting handling is something every dog need to be taught. If they object, bring out the muzzle. It should NOT be an option, as it could save their life some day.

One of my dogs was not good about having his nails done. I'd muzzle him if he snapped at me. He eventually learned to accept it without protesting.

Only dog I needed help with was the one that learned to jerk her foot back JUST as I was about to cut the nail! I needed someone to hold her feet for me. She never did try to bite, just JERK!
 

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Don't wait until the dog protests to put the muzzle on.

I also had an adult rescue who could be a little testy with certain people. If a nice lady asked him nicely he would literally do or allow anything.

If a pushy rude man tried to man handle him into the same procedure he would get angry about it. I got where I knew right off how he was going to be and I would just muzzle him right out of the gate for those people.

It's not necessarily that big of a deal....if it is a dog who will just chill and accept their fate. Most will if you play your cards right.

My dog mentioned above I did leave one vet and find another because the nice lady vet he liked left the practice and was replaced by a grumpy man who brought out the worst in my dog. I just felt like we didn't need the conflict and I knew there were other people he would do better with. He was not fearful at all, and was generally friendly to strangers. He just resented being handled without respect is the only way I can explain it.

I board a few dogs who will snap over stupid stuff. One if you try to get a tick she'll air snap at you. No problem, she gets a muzzle before I do anything she'll be mad about. She knows it. She doesn't bother messing with me anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the input & experiences! This forum is always helpful.

So I now have a plan of action...

First, muzzle-training with the basket muzzle (give treats through muzzle, let him wear it in relaxed manner, I will get it to the point where I can casually slip it on and off. He learns quickly, I estimate a week or two should do it.)

Routine nail trims/bathing/etc: Me

Medical checks/small quick exams: Will ask if they want him to be muzzled & will slip it on if they say Yes

Serious medical procedures which may involve pain (blood draw, vaccinations, etc): give 2 Trazodone 30 min. before vet visit + I will muzzle him in the waiting room if they prefer


OK, that is the plan -
phew, I feel better/more relaxed/clear!


Transforming my suspicious adult rescue into a dog who will be docile and submit to handling by others...I think that's a long shot. Training him to wear a muzzle when needed...now that, I can do. ( And if I do find a Miracle Person (like the "nice lady") who can actually handle him, I'll post an update. :)
 

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We just put a cloth muzzle on Jack when he goes to the vet (and when we do his nails). It's just easier that way. We don't ask, we just do it prior to whatever the procedure is after we've gotten into the exam room, when at the vet.

He knows he can't really growl or snap his way out of the situation, and the last time we clipped his nails, he shut up and just submitted to the process. Nails were done in 2 minutes flat and he received treats for every completed paw. For vet trips we give him a little sedative, might be the same that you use and we also use 2 tablets, and put the muzzle on. Thus, the exam is complete in under 5 minutes.

He'll learn that annoying/unpleasant exams or tasks are over 10 times faster if he just shuts up and tolerates what's happening. He'll figure out that it's less stressful to just wait.

This is where I wish we could directly communicate with dogs to tell them that humans have to submit to stupid annoying doctor visits all the time. That no one likes these things, but they have to be done so we just sit quiet and tolerate it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This is where I wish we could directly communicate with dogs to tell them that humans have to submit to stupid annoying doctor visits all the time. That no one likes these things, but they have to be done so we just sit quiet and tolerate it.
I know! Last time I went to the dentist, the anesthesia had not kicked in 100% yet...when he drilled, I sure felt it. I stopped him by mumbling "ow!" but if I was a dog, I probably would have bitten him good for how that felt!

Can dogs still take treats through a cloth muzzle?
Just wondering! The cloth ones do seem easy to use.

I do hope he just learns to "submit".
We shall see. :)
 

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I know! Last time I went to the dentist, the anesthesia had not kicked in 100% yet...when he drilled, I sure felt it. I stopped him by mumbling "ow!" but if I was a dog, I probably would have bitten him good for how that felt!

Can dogs still take treats through a cloth muzzle?
Just wondering! The cloth ones do seem easy to use.

I do hope he just learns to "submit".
We shall see. :)
Yes, they can. Small treats anyway--like cat/small dog treat sized.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So I was tempted to get a cloth muzzle...so inexpensive, and easy to use!
But it said thAt it fits more snugly, so harder for dogs to pant. Rumo is always hot and panting at 70 degrees ( half husky) so I think he will be more relaxed in basket muzzle, especially if we have a wait. Just will train him to wear it...right now he avoids, and waves his head around. Treats will change his mind, ha ha.

Re the drugs ( sedative: trazodone): I had slipped him his two pills and was taking a short walk before driving to vet for his vaccinations. He was so dopey. His tail was hanging down and he was plodding along beside me. A lady across the street with energetic dog shouted, “I wish my dog walked so well on leash!” I said, “ thanks! But he has been drugged...”
 

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Some dogs will never submit to handling by strangers- they will hurt themselves and possibly you and others if you force it. I can't tell you what kind of dog you have, but it should be pretty easy to tell. With my big male trazodone wouldn't do anything. I give him vaccines, do basic medical care, handling, I've even thought about learning to do blood draw, and maybe will in future. If he needs something big done, like when he had a freak accident and got a stick wedged into his belly, then I gave him the initial sedative and stayed with him during the procedure. I am there when he goes to sleep and there when he wakes up (I have great vets).

When he ran into a porcupine, same thing. I even pulled most of the quills and got a discount (yay).

It's not exactly ideal, but if the dog is easily handled by you and not aggressive to family and handler, and is controlled and managed in life, and can walk down the street without freaking out... well, I consider that a win overall. Just set up a clear plan with the vet if there is an emergency, use a muzzle, try to do most of the handling yourself.

I think think the muzzle plan is a good one, and the advice is good for your average 'testy' dog, but there are dogs out there, that, simply won't accept strangers' handling. They can pass the check in for IPO, but that is about it. Some really great dogs, in both sport and police/working are this way. I don't necessarily consider it a fault. It depends on the dog.
 

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@Muskeg
Yea, thank you for saying it is not necessarily a fault. I feel like only GSD owners could understand!

I see all the small / midsize tame dogs being handled, licking people, wagging their tails, the vet techs are smiling, and I feel embarrassed about my big, growly (possibly dangerous) dog...I wish he could be handled as easily, but it will be a relief to muzzle-train him well and know that at least, the situation is safe ( even if he will never be a favorite at the vet!)

Wow-Impressive how many procedures you can do!!

Yes, Rumo submits to me and is very loyal/devoted.
I do not have faith in my medical skills however...I think nail trim is where I draw the line...with that, I can’t inflict permanent damage, ha ha.
 

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My military dog, Fama, used to attack the Vet, techs, receptionists, anyone in the Vets office. She was always in muzzle and on a short leash. We used to go in the back door and right to the exam room. I did everything to her until she was sedated to keep the staff safe.

We spent some time just hanging out at the Vets office, rewarding for good behavior, corrections for bad behavior. Many frequent 5 minute visits with lots of OB and rewards. We had a great tech that would just hang out with Fama and play with her.

She loves the Vets office now. She still gets a muzzle for anything that may be painful, but gets her ball when it comes off.

I suggest you work at it. Over time it may get much better.
 
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Thank you all,
I just wanted to report that the muzzling strategy worked!!

I trained him to wear a Baskerville basket muzzle - he is able to pant, take treats, drink, so he is comfortable wearing it.

As per instructions from previous visits, he had 2 trazodone pills 90 minutes before the veterianarian visit. He laid calmly in waiting room while I checked work email on my phone. Once we got into the exam room and we were alone, I put on the muzzle and gave him some bits of cheese and petting. He laid down on the floor and was just lying there when vet tech and vet came. This time, the vet let me stay with him and hold his head/talk to him while she drew blood (heartworm test), gave rabies vaccine, inspected ears, etc. And he was fine!!! Not exactly happy, but not growling or attacking either. He is apparently the type that, once the muzzle is on, he submits. Also he is lot more calm and less hostile towards them if I stay with him, and am touching him.

Problem solved! :)
 

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I wanted to add that the muzzling worked for the people too! This is one effect I didn't realize.

Everyone - from the vet tech, to the vet, to me, was much more relaxed and we actually were discussing things while vet was examining/treating him.

When the humans are at ease (not worrying about getting bitten by a large growling dog!), the whole atmosphere feels better, and Rumo seemed calmer too. phew.
 
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