Down Under Wonder
Bruno is a goofy 8-year-old Bull Arab Cross (a type of Australian working dog). He has always been very friendly at the vet, but once pats stopped and the examination started, he would become suspicious and communicate his discomfort with aggressive behavior. Fortunately, Bruno’s owner has been committed to training. They had private training sessions and attended a Ready, Vet, Go! course. As part of Bruno’s training we incorporated a lot of owner education on subtle body language changes, as well as start and stop cues for Bruno. Bruno was trained with a sustained chin target, using a towel on a chair, as his start cue, meaning “I’m ready for procedure.” If he lifted his head, we immediately stopped the procedure. Bruno was also trained to be comfortable with a Baskerville Ultra Muzzle. We spent time teaching Bruno specific body parts such as tail, ear, and scruff, so that he knew what was about to happen. Over time we were able to pair several good vet clinic experiences (training on a Sunday in clinic) with lots of his fave foods, body scratches, and games. We also introduced veterinary equipment, including syringes, blunt needle, alcohol swabs, and stethoscope. When we weren’t actively training, he was taught a default “chill” behavior and rewarded for relaxed head, tail, and big breaths. He had several socialization visits at the vet, and when he required surgery for a lump removal we did practice runs with pre-visit medication to see what would work best for him. A planned course of action on admission saw him anesthetized as soon as possible to limit buildup of anxiety. Since then Bruno has had further training sessions and socializing vet visits. Recently he had his vaccinations and we were able to give his injection without any restraint by utilizing his muzzle and target training. Bruno is a great example of what teamwork can achieve when you have a committed owner and a Fear Free-trained vet and trainer, not to mention a goofy, food-motivated dog!
Jacqui Johnston, Holland Park and Carina Vet Clinics and Trish Allan, All Pets Education and Training, Brisbane, Australia