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17 week old Westie puppy - Advice needed

(27 Posts)
GoalieMum Tue 02-Jun-15 12:14:49

We have had our puppy since she was 8 weeks old, done puppy classes, lots of socialisation etc. She knows all the basic commands, is housetrained and I thought I was doing well!
However, took her to the vets yesterday as she is very sore around her bits, not helping by her keep licking them. She has been given antibiotics for this.
When the vet initially examined her, she didn't really want to be poked down there so I held on to her and she put her teeth round my hand. Not hard, but trying to get me off so she could move. The vet commented that she should have grown out of mouthing by now, I replied she was much better than she used to be but still did it occasionally.
The vet then went through all the ways to stop her biting. She explained the methods we have been using, then told us to basically pin her mouth shut with our hands. The vet then demonstrated this by starting to look at the bits again, when my puppy objected by mouthing her the vet clamped her hands around the puppy's mouth really tightly. My puppy went mad, she was petrified and tried to get away, the vet described it as an hysterical reaction. My dog did actually draw blood on the vet in the struggle, not sure if it was intentional or not. The vet persisted, my dog went quiet and the vet said that she had won the battle.
The vet then basically said that my Puppy thinks she is top dog, we have to be dominant , and we should get a behaviourist in as she will be unmanageable by the time she is two.
What do you think? I am fully prepared to get a behaviourist in if needed, however she has never shown any sign of aggression, is great with all people and other dogs. Sorry for the long post!

Difficultdora Tue 02-Jun-15 12:35:01

I think that you need to get a new vet! Absolutely horrible behaviour from him. What is the point of stressing a puppy in that way. He sounds very 'old school' and I would not want to leave my dog in his care! I have a 17 week old labrador pup and he is still mouthing especially when I try to dry him or restrain him in any way. It's completely normal and they grow out of it quite quickly.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Tue 02-Jun-15 12:36:29

I am no expert but I would be seriously unhappy if a vet did that to my dog. My son used to work with really sick dogs in a specialist small animal hospital and he would never restrict a dog that way. Surely the use of a soft muzzle would've been more appropriate? Some dogs do nip/mouth when they are handled and in pain. They haven't got a voice to say "Ouch! That bloody hurts" so they use their teeth/voive.

MostAmused Tue 02-Jun-15 12:37:03

Oh dear sad

Please stop listening to your vet in regards to behaviour issues sad She's given you some very outdated information.
The dominance/ pack/ topdog theory has been largely discredited. Including by the person who wrote the original paper on it. Your puppy didn't understand what was happening, vet visits will still be a new experience, she was hurting and was trying to stop the pain continuing the only way she knew how.

Our now 9 month old puppy was still a bit mouthy at 4 months though we did start to notice it decreasing from this age. We found the most effective method was to withdraw and ignore if mouthing occurred during play/excitement and if he mouthed to get us away (i.e in your example where your puppy mouthed you to stop the prodding) we let our hand go limp and were still until he took his mouth away. It is a lot easier once those razor sharp teeth are gone.

Holding the muzzle will have just stressed out your puppy to the point where she gave up fighting to get out of the situation. The same thing happens when people roll a dog onto it's back to get it to "submit".What actually happens is the stress hormones in the dog rocket and the dog goes still to try to get the aggressor to move away.

If you get a behaviourist in try to find one accreddited by the IMDT or ask on this facebook page. I personally would only use a trainer/behaviourist that uses positive reinforcement. Have you considered asking about the behaviour at your puppy classes? I'm sure you aren't the only one with a mouthy puppy smile

Hope I've been helpful, I have fairly limited experience having only had my own dog since Novemeber but I read a lot about it and have found The Doghouse to be a great source of info smile

tabulahrasa Tue 02-Jun-15 12:39:58

Get a new vet!

BurningBridges Tue 02-Jun-15 12:54:02

Please come back on and tell us you are getting a new vet?!

GoalieMum Tue 02-Jun-15 12:56:17

Thanks for all the replies. You have reinforced what I was thinking, the whole situation was awful and I just wanted to grab my puppy and run out of there. I will be changing vets. I do not agree with the dominance theory at all.

It is very difficult when it is your first puppy and you are trying to do everything right, to be told that you potentially have an aggressive dog. I do know a good behaviourist, but honestly don't think we need to do that yet. Surely she was only protecting herself, it is the only time she has ever done it. She is very sociable and friendly to everyone else.

I am supposed to be taking her back to the same vet next week to see if the infection has cleared up, with a wee sample to test for anything that might be causing it. Can I change vets before this or do I have to go back to complete the treatment?

Aked Tue 02-Jun-15 13:15:45

God yes, change vet.

It helps to see the same vet in such a case as obviously they saw it first and will be a good judge of whether it has improved. However if I were you, I wouldn't be wanting to see this particular one again. Another vet will still be able to see if the skin infection is clearing, and also test the urine. You could either insist on seeing a different vet at the same practice - or change practice completely. If you choose to do the latter the new practice will call your old one to transfer your dog's medical history.

I'd be putting in a complaint about the first vet too. Terrible, outdated behaviour that could help set your pup up for being fearful of the vets. You may want to do some groundwork of taking her to the practice just for lots of meet and greets, getting a treat and and some positive attention from the staff etc. Most practices with an ounce of sense will encourage this!

DoristheNovice Tue 02-Jun-15 13:21:49

I'm just adding that my 17 week old cockapoo still mouths a bit. No where near as much as she did when we first got her home, but when she gets over excited she still does. My vet said she'll have stopped it by the time she's 12 months old (ish). I'm pretty sure you can move to another vet without any issues.

Aked Tue 02-Jun-15 13:24:01

Also, sometimes animals do react to putting prodded in a sore place! It doesn't mean they should be labelled as aggressive. As vets and nurses we do do some mean things - poking needles in, looking in very sore ears with a nozzle, palpating sore tummies, touching sore skin! This behaviour is sometimes completely understandable. It just means we perhaps have them professionally held by a colleague, give them some reassurance and have a little patience and empathy. Plus encourage people to bring animals in to see us just for a friendly visit so that they know we aren't always that mean!

Totally ridiculous. I'm fuming for you.

anniebear71 Tue 02-Jun-15 14:18:57

My 15 week does it lots

pigsDOfly Tue 02-Jun-15 14:41:44

There's no way I'd be going back to that vet. What a horrible, stupid thing to do.

Of course puppy is going to react to being prodded and hurt and she was, understandably, giving you a warning but from the sound of it it went no further than that.

Not surprised that puppy stepped up her reaction when stupid vet grabbed her muzzle. If somebody held my mouth and nose shut, effectively shutting off my breathing, I'd panic too and probably try to thump them, and I'm not a violent person.

Hope it doesn't leave your puppy with long term fear of vets.

When you find a new vet, pop in to new vet's office and let puppy meet the people in reception. Ask them if they'd help you to help her feel relaxed there. Take some treats with you and get them to give her a few. The staff in a good vet's office will do this if they're not too busy, especially if you explain that you're worried she's likely to be nervous.

nellieellie Tue 02-Jun-15 15:13:08

Omg! This vet should never act like that! It is still normal for puppies to mouth at this age, and if it were me I would put in a written complaint about this vet, as the way she treated your dog, who was just hurt and scared is unacceptable and more likely to incite aggressive behaviour.
Please get a new vet! Dog training methods relying on physical violence are outdated and discredited. Good trainers use positive reinforcement. The next time you go to the vets, take loads of treats with you and distract her with them.

Butterflowers Tue 02-Jun-15 16:37:15

I was told yesturday by my veterinary nurse to pick my 17 week out puppy up by the scruff of his neck when he bites and to put him in time out for a couple of hours. I was also told that if he sits down and refuses to walk when we are out that I should drag him. I'm not doing either of those things. I came home feeling really unhappy and unsupported to be honest.

GoalieMum Tue 02-Jun-15 17:05:46

I think I am going to change vets, I know of a good one near me. I shall go and talk to them tomorrow and hopefully they will be able to do a follow up on her infection if they have the notes sent to them. Do not want to risk taking her there again, if it's somewhere new hopefully she won't be so scared.
Good idea about the treats. I have been trying to use positive reinforcement with her and it is working very well. I honestly believe that the vet decided she was aggressive due to her being a terrier, she described her as hysterical, feisty and a little madam.
Butterflowers that is awful, I wouldn't do any of those things. Think you should change vets as well!

Butterflowers Tue 02-Jun-15 17:59:38

I'm definately considering it. They keeping telling me to have him neutered at 6 months too, even though I've tried telling them I would prefer to leave it until he's over 12 months. They wanted to know my reasons and said that if I didn't do it at 6 months he would have formed bad habits by the time he is 12 months old. Talk about putting new puppy owners under pressure.

hoochymama1 Tue 02-Jun-15 18:29:11

Poor puppysad Your instincts are right, goaliemum, also echo what people have said about a vet change.
I have a westie bitch, now just over a year. She mouthed a lot, and still does first thing in the morning, but now controls it better.
Also, the soreness might be part of the skin infections that westies are prone to. Ddog also had sore ear, underlegs at the same age. We now use malaseb every now and again, and feed her millies wolfheart, it hasnt returned..
Wishing you all the best. Change vets, what a horrible person, and so abusiveshock

GoalieMum Tue 02-Jun-15 18:44:00

Hoochymama1 what is malaseb? Is it something from the vets or can you just buy it? Actually changed yesterday to Millie's Wolfheart, so hoping that helps.
Yes am still fuming that it happened, that I didn't stop it, but at least I can make sure it doesn't happen again. I assumed wrongly that the vet knew what she was doing, compared to me who has never had a dog before. So glad everyone feels the same, it is great to hear others opinions.

Scuttlebutter Tue 02-Jun-15 18:45:16

Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying Change your vet. Our vet (and the nurse team) are so incredibly gentle with our dogs. We have one who is bitey if he is frightened so we always muzzle when we attend. Fortunately, even then, that is only necessary if any poking or prodding is happening. We even pop in to say hello to the practice if we are passing - and all the practice staff encourage this sort of visit and give lots of treat/fusses as it's all good for building up positive associations. I find it so utterly depressing that vets are still coming out with this dominance nonsense. sad

hoochymama1 Tue 02-Jun-15 18:58:07

Goaliemum Malaseb is a strong shampoo only on prescription. That's why it's important to have a good vet, as westies do have these ongoing skin problems. Which means lots of possible visits. This we use too. I have talked to westie owners who use just water, or baby shampoo, and it is probably a good thing to bathe her as little as possible.
I can just encourage you, as we were so worried about hoochydog too. She is our first dog, but she has settled down enormously just by being gentle with her...I really dont go in for all this pack leader lark, but when you first have a dog you don't know what to do. I have found these boards full of sensible advice.
Enjoy her! grin

hoochymama1 Tue 02-Jun-15 19:03:07

Oo before I forget. Millies is good stuff and she loves it!
We use 50/50 salmon and countryside mix, as salmon is supposed to be good for their skin. But they will advise you.

toboldlygo Tue 02-Jun-15 19:15:36

Before anyone goes switching practices it can be worth asking to see another vet in the same practice, assuming it's not a small one man band.

Some of the vets at our place are still adherents of dominance theory, others are well up to date on modern methods - same as the nurses and receptionists, there's a real range of areas of expertise - I'd hate for a new client to tar all the employees with the same brush. We put a huge amount of effort into our puppy clinics and socialisation opportunities, it's so easily undone by a casual 'pack leader' comment from one of the less enlightened vets. Drives us potty! angry

GoalieMum Tue 02-Jun-15 20:11:45

Unfortunately she is the main vet there. This is a well recommended vet practice, but it is not for us.
One other thing the vet told me to do was that if my puppy got my finger in her mouth, to make her let it go I should push my finger down her throat to make her gag and then let go. Is this something people do? Sounds awful to me.

Aked Tue 02-Jun-15 20:23:10

Errrm,no. Run OP, run!! grin

toboldlygo Tue 02-Jun-15 21:06:13

Ok, I take it back - she is a loon - run away! grin

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