Loki Bit The Vet

Okay, he didn’t really bite the vet, but they now won’t examine him without a muzzle on.

We went to the vet yesterday to have his skin tested for mites. It appears to be all cleared up. His hair is all grown back between his eyes and it doesn’t seem to bother him anymore.

When we arrived, I made sure to load the clicker just to remind him that it works in public too. We went inside to check in and he was not happy when the tech came around reception to get his weight. Luckily, I was prepared and clicked & treated him in between barks.

We got his weight, 61 pounds, and practiced sitting while we waited. More barking when a different tech came to take us back. I clicked and treated as fast as I could. He seemed to calm down once we got in the exam room. I spoke with the tech then she went back to talk to the vet. When she returned she asked to take him to the back for his test.

Then, I made a big mistake. I said yes and handed her the leash. Loki quickly responded with a bark and lots of growls.

I beat myself up as she took him away. Why on Earth didn’t I make her wait through more clicks and treats? Why didn’t I have her offer up treats herself after that? Nope, I just handed him over to the “wolves” like an idiot. 😦

One more lesson learned.

They couldn’t exam him because he wasn’t about to let them. They came back with the vet and we talked some more. Turns out, the vet wanted to see if he acted any differently away from me. He wanted to know if his reactivity was all the time or just as a result of guarding me. Grrr!!! I’m pretty sure he could have found that out someway else. Turns out, it’s not just from guarding me. No surprise there.

We may be going back to our old vet where we used to live 30 minutes away after that.

Well, in all, he referred us to his office manager who is also a trainer, he didn’t test Loki’s mange, and told us we should muzzle train him for visits. Oh, and of course, he triggered Loki on purpose and nearly got his techs bit. I paid $25+ for that.

To his credit, he listened and answered my questions about non-medication & medication treatments. He has also been professional and happens to know the Belgian Malinois breed very well.

It was another frustrating day on the reactive dog front.

The good news: Today we put on a thunder shirt and sat in the Petsmart parking lot. We parked as far away as possible, clicking and treating every single person within view. Loki was very tired after we finished. I think he may even nap today.

What are your thoughts on our vet experience? Were his actions appropriate for the situation or did he just made things worse?



13 thoughts on “Loki Bit The Vet

  1. I don’t think the vet made it worse for Loki, maybe for you though. I can understand his testing the protection theory, but he could have told you. I don’t let my dog out of my sight at the vet. My last dog was more snippy, but I feel it’s my duty as ‘dog mom’ to stay with them in times of stress. Maybe he’s not the right vet? I drive past several to get to my awesome vet, whom my dogs run exciting towards when seeing him to lick his face off. You’re on the right track, just be patient. 🙂

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      I definitely would have preferred that he told me. I know now not to just let anyone take him away without getting him as comfortable with that person as possible first. If only to avoid him biting.

      My last vet did everything but blood work and surgery in the room with me. My Odin absolutely loved going there. I think I will make the trip to see him soon.

      How did your vet respond when you first told him/her that you wouldn’t let your dog out of your sight? Did he/she seem eager to work with you or was it a process to get where you are now?

  2. My last dog, an Akita (95#), would need to be DRAGGED into the vet. (Maybe a bad experience, not sure..) Let alone the fact that she was animal aggressive (a story for later), so I would have to go into the office b/4 her to scope it out. Anyway, that vet was very nice & accomidating. Then he sold the business with no real notice (Gee, thanks!). I came in for a heartworm test & noticed the change. OK, things change, but when they tried to take her back w/o me & I said no, they said, ‘It’s our policy not to have owners in back… yaddayadda..” I told them the last one let me, still a no. So, we left with her medical records in my hand. It’s just that simple. I wasn’t a b*tch, but I am paying for a service & when it comes down to my dog/child, I won’t sacrifice their comfort or mine. For her, in the end, I got a home-visiting vet & it only cost me $20 more for the visit & she wasn’t freaked out ‘cuz she was at home.
    My current vet is a sweet, old man that breeds border collies & Aussies, what luck! He actually told me if I ever couldn’t care for my lil’ Oreo, he would take him! THAT was a compliment IMO. He does everything in the room, with me there, holding my dog, from heartworm to butt squeezes (anal glands – oh, joy!!)… That MAY be an argument for taking them to another room… Just kidding!
    In the end, my last, large dog could seriously mess someone up if she wanted to. In this sue-happy world we live in, I didn’t trust her out of my sight. My 2 now are just dorky-happy types that most likely won’t bite for any reason, but why take the chance? It’s like letting them off the leash, do you trust them THAT much??

    • I appreciate your point of view. I completely agree that it’s not about being a b*itch, but about protecting your pup and yourself. I will be more prepared next time we go to a vet.

      I’m pretty sure anal glands are in the “what mommy doesn’t know won’t hurt her” category ;-). At least, I wish they were.

      Thanks again for your feedback!

  3. it’s so nice to see your persistent you are in your efforts with Loki. I never leave my dogs out of my sight at the vets if I can help it. It’s stressful enough as it is … sometimes they argue that the dog is more anxious when the owner is around but I think that’s rubbish. Good luck!

    • Thank you!!! He’s an absolute sweetheart at home and quickly became one of the family. I look at adopting a dog much like adopting a child. I could never just give him back, especially without giving it my 100%. I’m not perfect at this, but I am doing my best. He certainly gives me his, probably a lot more than I give him.

  4. Yikes. I would have fired my vet for that honestly. Vets, for the most part, are not trainers, unless they are veterinarian behaviorists. In my humble opinion, most vets do not know nearly enough about canine behavior, which is fine, that’s not their job, but when they try to test training on your dog without your permission, well that’s not cool. I remember hearing recently that someone said her vet taught her how to “alpha roll” her eight week old puppy, and I about ripped my hair out. Vets are creatures of science, so it doesn’t make any sense that they would be holding onto these old myths. Anyway, getting on a tangent here, lol. My dogs, as you know, are both reactive. The first thing I tell any new vet (our dogs are also chronically ill, so we have multiple vets and are shuttling them around to specialists all the time, sigh) is that my dog is reactive, and I would prefer he/she (whichever it is that time) wear a muzzle during examination. Both of my dogs are also muzzle trained. Muzzle training is a great recommendation, so the vet got that right. There are reasons other than reactivity that a dog may need to wear a muzzle, for example, my last GSD Smokey, was a big bear, a complete sweetheart, he would never have bitten anyone. That being said, when he was being tested for lymphoma, they had to do aspirations and he was muzzled for the procedure. You can’t never know exactly how a dog is going to respond in that situation. Smokey wasn’t muzzle trained, but in that moment, I wish he had been, because on top of being incredibly ill, he was terrified to boot, so after that I went about muzzle training Shelby and when we got Panzer, he was also muzzle trained. Panzer goes to the acupuncturist this afternoon and before I told them anything about his medical history, etc. I told them he would likely need a muzzle. If the doctor wants to feel him out first, see how he does, that’s completely fine, that’s his/her personal call, but I have given them advanced warning. In my opinion, the best way to keep your dog safe is to prevent anything bad from happening. Like I say to my vets, “He’s never bitten anyone, but I don’t want you to be the first person.” I’m really enjoying reading your adventures with Loki, I think you’re doing a great job and you’ll continue to see improvement!

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s a completely new thing for me. I’ve enjoyed the writing. Getting feedback from others like I have on this post has been invaluable!

      I bought a cheap, soft muzzle because that was all the store had. I figured I could use that just to train him with it. Then, once he’s adjusted, I’ll talk to our trainer about buying a pricier one he can pant, eat, drink with to actually wear.

      I hate the idea of a muzzle, but Loki is teaching me to get over myself and do what’s best for him. He’s also teaching me patience and to pick my battles. 😉

    • I forgot to mention that I had a vet teach me to put Odin in a submissive settle while on a high exam table. He was barely 5 months old and getting his last round of boosters. That’s the day I learned what releasing an anal glad was. Needless to say, it stuck with me and I used it when he got out of hand. I never hurt him, but of course he hated it. It was the only “dominance” training technique I knew, thank God, and I’m so glad I know better now.

  5. It drives me nuts how many vets still not only believe in but actually promote the dominance theory. I completely agree with crystalpegasus1 – vets are all science, so why ANY of them, regardless of advanced behavior knowledge, still think dominance is the way to go is beyond me. It’s sad, because so many people put full trust in their vet – as they should! What bugs me about this situation is that it seems like the vet sort of provoked Loki, even if very subtly. I believe that, if at all possible, dogs should be kept out of situations where their anxiety is to the point that they feel like they need to do something severe about it. Going to the vet? You cannot avoid. Having a stressful, forced, scary experience at the vet? You CAN avoid – by having a vet who is kind and patient and will work with you and your dog. Glad to hear it didn’t turn out worse this time around…. no thanks to the vet!

    • I felt the same way about the vet, although mildly, provoking Loki. Not to mention, putting his technician in danger. What also gets me is if I wasn’t caught of guard, I could have set him up for success while still allowing the vet to test his theory.

      I’ve looked into veterinary behavioralist and there are nine in my state. I’ll be sending an email to my previous vet soon. I don’t think I’ll be returning to this one.

  6. We made the mistake of taking Pepper to a vet who muzzled her at visits and her anxiety was through the roof, but they were supposedly German shepherd specialists, so we agreed to it. Meanwhile, there was a vet clinic less than a mile from the house, but a neighbor had a bad experience there, so we never tried it. Long story short — vet who muzzled screwed up a splint so badly that she got an abscess, and we discovered that the neighbor who advised us off the other vet is nuts. So, now our baby has a vet less than a mile from home who gets on the floor and lets her lick his face and she loves him. This is our third vet, but the first one who didn’t convince us that Pepper was the problem. Should have trusted my instincts all along.

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