Does your dog love to going to the vet? I would expect if you’re reading this, the answer is probably no. What if I told you there was a way to make your dog love going to the vet and voluntarily submit to shots, injections, and other medical procedures without any fuss?
I’m not crazy, I’m just here to teach you and your dog a better way to approach the dreaded trip to the veterinarian.
DogBoy’s has a brand new dog training class starting this May called “Perfect Patient”. It is so brand spanking new we decided to introduce it with a blog post. We love to keep everyone updated on what’s new out on the ranch, and we want to explain what this class is all about. As far as we know, we are the only facility currently offering a class like this.
“What is the Perfect Patient class about?”
Perfect Patient is a class designed to help your trip to the vet go as smoothly as possible. In Dog Training speak, the goal of the class is to create voluntary husbandry behaviors in our dogs.
“Voluntary Husbandry? What are you talking about? I came here for the easy Vet trip!”
Let me explain, this means that our dogs will volunteer and opt in to medical procedures, like blood draws and vaccines. We will not be performing these things in class, but the class will focus on giving you and your dog the skills to make your vet visits much calmer. We will also work on waiting room etiquette, and skills for while you pay the bill.
Voluntary husbandry skills are not a new thing. Trainers have been teaching them for years and years, but not usually to our domestic dogs. The most common participants of voluntary husbandry training are zoo and aquarium animals. You can’t exactly pin down an elephant and force it to cooperate. To make sure that these incredible animals can receive the care that they need, the zookeepers focus on teaching cooperative care so that it is not scary and stressful for animals who are already in a delicate situation. Watch some examples of sea lions demonstrating their skills here:
I actually got the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Houston Zoo two years ago and see some demonstrations with the orangutans. It was incredible to watch these amazing animals volunteer for injections, ultrasounds, and eye exams. Zoo keepers spend a lot of their time making sure that the animals in their care are enriched and happy. They accomplish this largely through puzzle feeding and clicker training.
“Sea Lions are great, but how does this apply to my dog?”
Well, wouldn’t your trips to the vet be better if instead of having to fight your dog to hold still, they were happy with the situation happening around them? Here’s the issue though, we don’t give our dogs an adequate feeling of having a choice in these procedures. Picture this: Every time you go to the doctor, you know a huge man is going to pin you down while the doctor does what they need to—and NOBODY is going to explain what’s going on. Sounds kind of terrifying, right? In that situation, would you be super excited to go back to the doctor? It’s more likely that you’d either fight back, or shut down and wait for it to be over.
Unfortunately, this is EXACTLY what happens to our dogs at the vet. Dogs either struggle and fight back until they just give up (or the vet does), or they shut down and just let it happen around them. In either case, we are creating very negative and sometimes traumatic experiences for our dogs.
Instead, this class will focus on making medical experiences fun for your dog. We will give our dogs the power of consent. Dogs, just like humans, experience a feeling of powerlessness when they are not given a choice. When we empower our dogs with choice, they’re much more likely to say yes. They feel more confident and comfortable, and it makes our trips to the vet WAY less stressful on us. Take a look at what voluntary husbandry skills from a dog look like:
A dog receiving an injection:
Checking a dog’s open mouth:
In the class, we will also practice down stays in close proximity to other dogs, as well as down stays while you are busy at the counter. These skills will be worked on in order to make you and your dog’s waiting room experiences at the vet far more pleasant. We will discuss muzzle conditioning as well, and leash walking skills that come in handy in a crowded waiting room.
This is a class I am very excited to teach. I have been having a lot of fun working on this with my dogs, and I can’t wait to see how many of your dogs excel at these skills!
“Perfect Patient” starts on Saturday, May 28th and will meet for an hour at 4pm. The class is six weeks long, skipping Saturday June 18th, and July 2nd. If you have questions, or would like to sign up, just give us a call!