From “At home with the dogs of kona’s touch” series celebrating
APDT’s Train Your Dog Month and winner, best social media campaign
The dogs of kona’s touch would like to announce that January is APDT’s “Train Your Dog Month”. Sometimes I get personal in my blogs, but mostly I try to help explain behavior from both a professional and personal perspective. Join us this month as we get up close from the home and streets of the dogs of kona’s touch.
A Visit To The Vet
Today I learned.
Today we went to the vet with Little Star. She has some issues with her teeth. She is also recovering nicely after being slightly leash reactive with dogs. After being great with dogs her whole life, she had a mishap at a dog park and got scared. So when we got ready to go the vet today, I wasn’t that concerned. I stuffed my pockets with cheese and other extra special treats for her very wonderful CER. She was alone in the waiting room (except for a cat in a carrier) and she was doing great when a women came in with a small dog in a carrier. When she sat down, she pulled her dog out onto her lap and we moved Star to the other side of the room. She stayed calm and every time she looked up at us we gave her a soft treat. Then another dog came out, a huge Alaskan Malamute, gorgeous. They stayed at the front desk for what seemed like forever and Star was awesome. More dogs came in and out, the vet was late and we started to wear thin of treats.
Star’s stress level started to rise and I went to the counter to advocate for her. I didn’t really care if the vet was late, it was time we got a room. I asked how much longer it would be because Little Star was getting stressed. They went to the back and came out a minute later with a room for Little Star. It’s an animal hospital so when they’re late it’s not a problem for us. They understood our needs and helped us with a room.
In the room Star was walking around pacing and panting. Usually I take the time at the Vet for some one on one time with whatever dog I have with me. They end up loving the exam room and I get some focused training time. Little Star couldn’t really do training because she was actually tired from all the chewing in the waiting room. She has a broken tooth so we couldn’t reinforce any more with food or toys. I couldn’t even do my rub rub face thing with her because the side of her face is so sore. I felt bad she was pacing and it dawned on me that my copy of “Through A Dogs Ear” was on my iPhone’s iPod. With the speaker on, I put the music on. Star is familiar with the music because we use it for our separation distress dog and it plays on the CD player every time we leave the house. Within one or two minutes of the music from my phone, Star was lying on the floor and her eyes were closing.
When the vet’s assistant came in he couldn’t have been nicer and was very apologetic about being late. We talked and he was very patient with our answers. He wanted to get her up higher to get a look at her. We explained that “Star does much better if we just ask her to do what we want.” He was totally on board with that, so it went like this. We asked Star “Up” and she stepped on the scale/rising table. I asked her to “Sit” which she gladly did and then I put my hand on her collar and asked her to “Wait.” She wasn’t used to traveling up on the lift so I held her collar and talked to her in my calm voice and told her “it’s OK.” She rode up to our eye level like a pro with no incident. I didn’t want to put her in a”Stay” in case she was unsure of the movement and felt the need to adjust herself for the ride.
The rest of the exam went so well (including the blood draw) that I felt comfortable enough to step back and take photos.
Star is our best “going to the vet dog” mostly because she has huge trust in me and my partner. She would do most anything we ask of her and of course, we don’t ask for things above her tolerance. We also however, make sure that the vets we go to follow all of the protocols we believe and support. If a vet “just wants to get things done” for the sake of time or efficiency, we don’t use that vet. If they insist on following only one way of treatment and are not open to or willing to listen to our ideas and questions, we don’t use that vet. If the vet is rough or forceful with us or our dogs, and won’t take the time to use positive reinforcement, or use our dog’s skills, we don’t use that vet.
There are many qualified and wonderful vets out there. Many are very willing to have your dog be as comfortable as possible in their office. Many are willing to take an extra minute or so to help keep your dog comfortable in an often uncomfortable situation. Find that vet, there are many of them out there.
It’s good for you to get your dog “vet ready.” Practice vet appointments at home so you have a plan when your dog has an emergency or just an annual check-up. Touch your dog all over and click and treat generously. Let him see equipment that your vet may use i.e. clippers, scissors, thermometers. Let him smell the alcohol swab. Go to the vet and just visit, eat some treats in the waiting room and leave. If your dog is very touch sensitive, you may need to follow a more serious positive training protocol for handling.
Thank you to Dr D., Janet and Jacob and the staff at Portage Park Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic for their wonderful care.
See you in the future,
the dogs of kona’s touch