Hi, anyone with any ideas or experience of this? I have a gorgeous 12 month old chihuahua x terrior dog but he is a nervous wreck and suffers from fear aggression towards strange dogs and people. He is considerably better than he was after working alongside a behaviourist, but remains VERY reactive when visiting the vets. I have to carry him and he sits there cowering and shaking He will then snarl and attempt to bite the vet whenever he comes close. Vet is insisting on him being muzzled (which I totally understand why) but he is absolutely terrified of it. The vet tried to put one on him last time we were there but my dog completely freaked and wouldn't allow him,so had to abandon his treatment. I have brought a nylon muzzle and am trying to get him used to it by letting him sniff it/putting treats inside etc but whenever I attempt to pick it up and put it close to his nose then he snarls and snaps at my hand very aggressively. Does anybody have any ideas as to how to go about this? I know his fear of the muzzle is related to the vets and that he is scared of not being able to defend himself but the vet can't treat him without the muzzle . At the moment I can't imagine him ever allowing us to put one on him. Anyone with any advice/experience as to how to improve this situation? Thanks
I would not use a nylon muzzle - if possible use the cage muzzles. They nylon muzzles mean the dog can not pant, drink, or be sick etc. They are very restrictive and so dogs hate them more than the cage muzzles.
If you introduce the cage muzzle slowly and make sure your dog wears it in situation that he enjoys as well as just stressful situations you should be fine.
Over the next few days hold the muzzle in one hand and give the dog his meal with the other hand. Hold a treat through the muzzle. eg your hand muzzle then dog with your hand reaching through the muzzle to the dog. So the dog is now moving towards the muzzle to get the treat. Build on this very slowly and you should be able to put the muzzle on the dog (not done up) and feed the dog through the muzzle. Once the muzzle is on treat, play games etc. I teach dogs to push a ball with the muzzle so they associate it with fun and games.
It is very important that you let him wear the muzzle in fun situations rather than a stressful one or the muzzle will become a trigger for fear.
I would also work on the vet phobia. Most vets are really happy to help with with. Just walk into the waiting area as often as possible (make it part of the walk?) Get the nurses, receptionist to give the dog a treat and leave, do this until the dog is happy (may take a while could be a few days) then ask if you can just go into a surgery and give dog a treat, Put dog on table and give a treat etc etc. You can make things much easier for your dog if you can work on this gradually.
Thanks for replying cuebill Ok, will forget about the nylon one and switch to a cage muzzle, see if he finds that a little more acceptable Thankyou for the advice. Good point about him wearing it for good experiences as well and not just for the vets, hadn't thought of that. Feeding him through the muzzle could work as he may not realize what it is with it being a completely different shape. I often find him with his snout in the kids plastic cups when left lying around so maybe with it being a similar shape, he may be more accepting if that makes sense!! Thank you for the advice