Harley is a Rottweiler/lab mix who had been at other veterinary clinics for wellness exams and vaccinations. Harley was restrained more forcefully with each visit to the point where he was now aggressing or vaccination. The first time Harley came to us, we examined on the floor, and were able to have a less stressed exam using peanut butter through the muzzle. Harley did freeze ( an early level of anxiety) and growl, but did not attempt to bite. He readily took rewards after the exam form myself and all of the staff. The staff recorded the preferences for floor exam, muzzle and peanut butter so each exam would be consistent and positive.
Harley came back 1 year later for his wellness exam and was happy to come into the exam area. We used the muzzle positively for safety and he did not show any tension until he actually received the vaccinations. At that point he was standing stiff without growling, but still took the peanut butter through the muzzle. At the third year his wellness exam progressed easily and at the end of the exam Harley came over and playfully head butted my leg. He wagged his tail and readily accepted petting over the shoulder from me. I took out a tennis ball and bounced it for him in the room where he fetched it and brought it back to me. Harley wanted to play! I would have never thought that this formerly scared, tense dog who would warn he might bite would change his attitude to one of happy play. That is the power of rewarding and knowing what makes the exam best for this patient. The client is happy too to know her dog is safe at the veterinarian ( not attempting to bite us and not receiving forceful handling) for care.