"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

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– Posted in: Aggression, Breed, Columns, Newsletters
hates the vet

2 Year Old Rottweiler Now Hates the Vet

My almost 2 year old Rottweiler now hates the vet. I don’t mean when we go there. I mean he only hates when they start poking him, and try to muzzle him, or give him meds. Anything that has to do with meds and shots and grabbing at him he gets aggressive.

He was fine until about 6 months ago. I am trying a new vet since the one we had just refused to work with him. I don’t know what to do since I can do anything, and he doesn’t blink an eye. I have kids and he loves them and cuddles with them but now this is scaring me.

What should I do to make this a better situation or get this aggression in check ? I love my boy and he is an amazing dog and I have never seen aggression from him not even a growl until this.

Please help

Rachel – Gilberts Il

Hi Rachel,

On Paper Vs Reality

It’s possible on paper to get an already reactive, “hates the vet”, 2 year old Rottweiler used to accepting being handled by complete strangers. However, I haven’t seen a lot of actual success stories in the real world.

In theory, if you were to simulate every aspect of being handled by the veterinarian multiple times every day and associate something positive, like a treat, the dog can start to get the idea that staying still is more rewarding then going “Cujo”. However, then there’s the no small matter of transferring that belief over to strangers handling in the same way. It’s hard to get a single volunteer, let alone multiple ones. I think multiple handlers and contexts would be required in order to say with any finality that the dog will no longer be a “hates the vet” dog, that can be handled trouble free by any veterinarian.

Helpful Maybe for Others

For what it’s worth to others, (because it’s of no help whatsoever to you at this point) this is usually preventable.

A dog’s breeder and then the dog’s owner should start intrusive handling exercises with the pups right up until they’re 12 weeks of age. This would have to eventually be done by multiple people of different ages, genders, ethnicities etc. Then there should be periodic reminder sessions throughout the rest of the dog’s life. Ideally it should begin and occur with frequency during that critical socialization period if it is to work at its best.

Here’s a link to my puppy socialization cheat sheet:

Puppy Socialization Cheat Sheet PDF

and to my Puppy Socialization e-book:

Puppy Socialization – What It Is and How to Do It

Even so, once a dog of your and similar breeds hits a certain age (18 months), and you have not raised them in a manner that is crystal clear to them that you are the teacher and they are the student, it isn’t surprising to find that they start deciding independently what they’re going to allow and not allow.

Exercise Caution When Handling an Unwell Dog

You seem confident that whereas your dog hates the vet because of the way he is being handled that you have no problem handling him similarly. I’m not sure that I share that confidence. I’ve seen a lot of these fellows change their mind about that when their owners actually start handling sore ears or paws. If the time comes that you need to provide actual medical care as opposed to cuddling, be cautious.

You may want to look at trying to have a veterinarian that does in home appointments and give that a shot. This may however, just trigger a different set of problems. A Rottweiler is likely to have his guard up simply because there’s a stranger on the property, let alone one that is sticking a thermometer up his butt.

John Wade

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