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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So recently Kasper nicked his foot and we wanted to get it checked out at the vets. We moved house not too long ago and so have never had to use this vet before.

We phoned up to make an appt, and as usual ran through our list of guidelines. Namely:

- Can we see a female vet as Kasper prefers female vets to males
- If we give the vet treats can she give them to Kasper
- Can the vet be asked not to tower over Kasper, but to crouch down, as like a lot of dogs he doesn't like people leaning over him
- Can we treat him on the floor as he's a pain to get on the table and doesn't enjoy being up there

The receptionist who we spoke to made all the right, encouraging noises...and then slipped in at the end that as Kasper is a "nervous type" he will probably need to be muzzled for any appointments.

What do you think of this?

I can see where they're coming from, I can't imagine it's nice being bitten by a scared dog! But we've phoned ahead the last five vets we've been to and said the exact same thing, and they've never even mentioned a muzzle...even when Kasper managed to cut an artery he wasn't freaked out at all and, because the vet we saw then was so fantastic, he was relaxed throughout the whole thing. He's never so much as growled at a vet, ever.

I bought in a muzzle and have begun muzzle training Kasper as it's something I wanted to do anyway, but obviously if I can help it I won't be taking him to the vet until he's 100% happy wearing a muzzle. Will a muzzle make him feel more vulnerable and therefore more likely to react anyway?

His foot seems to be healing very well, so that's not really a worry any more :) ...but would you use this vet in future? Is it our fault for telling them our guidelines on how to treat him, did we make Kasper seem way more fearful or likely to bite than he really is? :confused:

(hope this is the right place to post this??)
 

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She may have just been setting expectations. It's hard to tell how likely a dog is to bite from a conversation over the phone, so mentioning that muzzling may be necessary in advance helps avoid a heated conversation in the moment.

I'd give them a chance, after reading all online reviews, etc., but I would be with my dog at all times, too, and I would pick up and leave if they seem unable to deal with normal levels of fear in a dog at the vet.
 

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As Kasper hasn't ever bitten a vet, I would have explained that to the receptionist. There's no reason to rule out using a muzzle if necessary and I can see why they might want you to- I imagine vets get a lot of people who underreport the level of their dog's fear aggression and so would prefer to pre-emptively overreact. If once you explained that Kasper doesn't bite, they still insisted on him being muzzled without even meeting him and you, I would look elsewhere.
 

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I actually like that she prepared you with the knowledge that your pet may be muzzled. Working at a clinic I know all to well how much of an issue clients have when their dog is muzzled, as most think it means we believe their dogs to be aggressive, which isn't true.

Just because "he has never bitten before" doesn't mean that out of frustration of fear he might. Sometimes Techs or vets muzzle a dog just as a precaution, for their safety and yours (yes, we have had clients threaten to sue us because the refused to muzzle their dog and the dog bit them; it's why we have a waiver for that). Most vets will try the exam without a muzzle and only have it on hand as a precaution.
 
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Even though Koda's amazing at the vet's, the last one did everything wrong-so I'd really work on the CCing to the muzzle just in case. She was stellar and tolerated this women being ridiculously rude and manhandling her, considering. The muzzles she brought in were also a size too small-it probably hurt to have something that tight over Koda's muzzle, which just made her more nervous. Next time I plan on bringing my own. They also used a very forced restraint, the vet requiring 2 techs to help hold her to give her a shot and take blood. Koda's stays are excellent, and the last vet I brought her to (although they had issues with the office) didn't even need to hold her at ALL for a needle.

All that rant to say....be prepared for anything. It's hard for them to tell and most vets aren't educated in force free methods or low stress handling. They didn't really say anything that made it seem like the vet was going to be particularly helpful or not, but as long as you can get in and out with reasonably low stress then you're winning.
 

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Honestly I might muzzle train regardless of whether my dog is fearful or not. Spot was certainly not fearful, he was a very well socialized and confident dog but he did try to bite the vet when he was really sick and needed several blood tests.

It is good that she told you that muzzling might be necessary but that doesn't mean that it needs to be stressful for him, how is he taking to the muzzle training?

With a basket muzzle you could follow the instructions you have given, keeping him as calm as possible while also removing any danger to the vet. That would be my plan if I were in your shoes.

The negative connotations of muzzles need to be removed I think. It doesn't mean that your dog is bad just that there are some tendencies maybe anxiety or prey drive that might possibly, maybe be a problem.

To be fair to your little boy there are a lot of things that go on at the vet that even the most confident dogs wont tolerate. Like I said I will seriously consider muzzle training and I am getting a toy poodle!
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the comments everyone it's been interesting to hear all your thoughts, you are all awesome :D

Kasper's doing really well with the muzzle training. I wanted a basket muzzle, but all our local pet shops only had material muzzles, so for now we're working with that whilst we order a basket muzzle offline...he readily stuffs his nose into the muzzle for c/t though which is good :)

One of my main concerns is how many times I'd read that wearing a muzzle makes a dog feel more vulnerable, so more likely to try and bite - would that not be the case if Kasper was happy wearing the muzzle?

I think we're going to phone up and try and speak to the actual vet and ask some more questions in regard to how she would deal with a fearful dog. Maybe we could even organise a 'meet and greet' where we could walk Kasper to the vets, the vet feeds him treats, and then we leave.

And in the meantime we'll keep on working with him in regards to the muzzle.

Thanks everyone :)
 

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You might be interested in Dr. Sophia Yin's Low Stress Handling techniques for this type of stuff.

Here's some links for ya:
Preview the Online Edition of Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats, by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MSLow Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
The Low Stress Handling Workshop DVD, Part 1 | Animal Behavior and Medicine Blog | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

I think it's still worth trying this vet....You have to remember that they probably do deal with a lot of fearful dogs, who's owners do not understand behavior, who do not work with the dogs on handling. I don't think it's unreasonable for them to mention the possibility of needing him muzzled. They don't know you or him, and speaking over the phone about it doesn't really tell them much. All they know is that he's sensitive, nervous, and there is potential for him to bite.

Go for a visit and just stay with him at all times. Do not permit them to force a muzzle on him. Do not permit them to take him into the back. Ask the vet to follow the rules that you have in place for handling Kasper. If they can't abide by that, or they won't, then you can just thank them and leave.
 

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It sounds like she's just giving you forewarning that he may be muzzled, depending on his behavior. It's difficult to judge over the phone, so I'd give them a chance.
 
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