Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Trip To The Vet

Luke, Leia and I took a trip to the vet last week. I'll admit that I was a bit concerned. The person who surrendered them said they were not good around other dogs and while I haven't once seen any behavior in them that would make me believe this, there's nothing like a vet office full of stressed out pets to make  a dog fall apart.

Waiting for the vet and paying close attention to the wild and crazy Labradoodle puppy across the room

I bought some rotisserie chicken to bring along as a high value treat as well as a distraction and off to the vet we went, armed with my treat pouch and my Baskerville muzzle for Luke.

Happily it was a cool day and I was able to leave them in the car rather than spend a lot of time in the waiting area since there always seem to be plenty of puppies in vet waiting areas along with their clueless people thinking all dogs want to meet their obnoxious, pushy dog.

When we did finally go in both dogs were a dream. They sat on the scale and patiently (well, Luke was patient and Leia was like a spring that was set and waiting be sprung) waited for their reinforcement of chicken. Then they sat in the clinic room and Luke let me put on his muzzle. Honestly, I don't really think he needed it but best to be safe since there was a male vet tech working.

Luke wearing his muzzle. Notice him licking his lips? Muzzle=lots of great treats in Luke's mind thanks to our training

Both dogs needed blood drawn for their annual heartworm tests, Luke needed a nail trim and Leia has a lump aspirated. All good news - negative heartworm tests and the lump is just a sebaceous cyst.

They went back in the car during the long wait to pay the bill and then we were on our way. Easy peasy with two dogs happy and with bellies full  of chicken. A very happy ending, thanks to prepping them to be ready for exams, pokes and prods.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Muzzling Up

While 99.9% of the time Luke is a very easy laid back dog, he is pretty fearful in new situations, especially with unknown people handling him. Because in a couple very terrifying situations in the past Luke has bit so he could get away I decided to teach him how to tolerate a muzzle and actually not just tolerate it but instead see a muzzle as a positive thing. All dogs should be exposed to muzzling because if there is an emergency and they need to be muzzled because of pain it won't be one more scary thing being thrown at them. But for a fearful dog a muzzle will keep others safe and in turn that keeps them safe as well. An added bonus to a muzzle is it makes people keep their distance which is exactly what I want them to do since the last thing I want strangers doing is grabbing at Luke. They may mean well but my job is to keep Luke feeling safe and comfortable so I make sure we keep to ourselves when out in public.

I want to stress that Luke is not a scary, aggressive, nasty dog. He is a dog who gets frightened in some very specific situations and my job as his current "person" is to make him and everyone else feel safe and protected in those situations.

Luke desperately needs his nails trimmed and he finds nail trims very frightening. In fact one of the times in the past when he bit was when a man was cutting his nails. I am also working with him to help nail trimming be less scary but we don't have time to fully work through that. His nails need to be trimmed now. So we will be going to the vet later in the week and I want to be at the point where he won't associate the muzzle with a scary trip to the vet or a blood draw or a nail trim. Instead it will be something that he is very used to that will just happen to come with us on our  trip.

For the past few weeks I've been working with him by just feeding him yummy treats from his muzzle. He sticks in his snout and chows down. This week we moved to the next step: actually strapping on the muzzle.

So when I strapped on that muzzle for the first time I used a super high value treat for Luke: hot dogs. As soon as it was buckled I started rapidly pushing bits of hot dog through the opening in the front of the cage muzzle and Luke gladly chowed down. After a short bit of this I took the muzzle off and then offered him a jackpot of a handful of hot dog bits.

Well he thought that was so amazing that he followed me around and sniffed the muzzle a bunch after our practice session hoping for more hot dog to appear. We've been doing this two to three times a day so by the time our vet appointment rolls around on Thursday he will be able to wear the muzzle without any fear or discomfort. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in learning more about muzzle training be sure to check out this blog post: Muzzle Training for Everyone! There are at least 4 other posts about muzzle training that follow this one and it will walk you through the steps of teaching a dog to enjoy muzzling with how to videos included to show the process.

Monday, September 5, 2016


With so many dogs around right now there's no time for blog posts. But I wanted to get a chance to chat about sweet Leia. 

Leia is as active as her brother Luke is laid back. She loves to hunt and will chase any critter that happens to wander into her back yard. In fact, she tries to chase them when they leave the yard as well and we've had to up the security of our fencing. Because of her love of hunting and some experiences by her former family we know she is going to need a cat-free home since chasing cats tops her list of fun activities. 

While she is active when she's outside, like most Rat Terriers when she's inside she's all about finding a nice soft spot to nap and she loves to snuggle up next to anyone on the couch - dog or human. 

We were told that she has food allergies and she was itchy when she first arrived but since arriving she's eaten grain free kibble with several different proteins and the itching has gone away. I think with a good quality food and avoiding corn, wheat and soy in any food or treats will keep her itch free. 

Both her and Luke need to lose a few pounds and she does seem to have taken off some of the extra weight. We have a trip to the vet office planned later in the week so we'll see then if she's lost any weight.