Reformed nail clipping aggressor - Buster Brown
Buster Brown - Buster is a mixed breed terrier male neutered dog who began to struggle and attempt to bite when his nails were trimmed at a young age. Less stressful ways of restraining him, offering him treats would help, but he would continue to struggle and attempt to bite whenever the clippers were put on the nail or clicked. To our knowledge he did not have any painful episode over nails. His owners were not able to work on counter conditioning at home, and travel to the office for counter conditioning sessions was difficult. Regular nail trims are important as the owners are elderly and do not want long nails creating a scratching problem.
Here is what we did:
We started with Acepromazine (.25mg/kg) and alprazolam (.05mg/kg) combined given 1 hour before the scheduled nail trim. With this sedation, an animal can still eat rewards and often will. Buster accepted the muzzle without resistance with peanut butter applied to the inside, and administered through the front of the muzzle. At first Buster would still struggle, but not as severely and he would take the peanut butter through the muzzle as the nails were clipped. After approximately 6 sessions, and to this day, Buster takes half his Alprazolam dose and does not need the Acepromazine to have his nails clipped. As you can see in the video ( Nail trim using treats and meds) he takes his peanut butter well and when he starts to struggle it is very limited and he calms down fast. Note how I and the technician give the peanut butter at the end before we remove the muzzle, then after removal. Buster is taken off the table after he is calm. All of this is important for him to learn good things about nail trims around the triggers for his anxiety.
The Bella Behavior System is important for all of the staff to be prepared for Buster to have great nail trims. They look at his label and see that he gets the muzzle with peanut butter and needs his meds taken ahead of time. Now when Buster sees the muzzle his tail wags and he happily puts it on because it means peanut butter! Using the Bella Behavior System to record and rank the reward for nail trims was essential to turning Buster's behavior around.