Yes, I train medical behaviors before I ever need them

All of my dogs learn how to wear basket muzzles, cloth muzzles, Elizabethan collars (the cone).  They learn how to have their teeth brushed, ears cleaned, eye drops administered, nails trimmed.  They learn how to be restrained a multitude of ways.  How to take pills in various ways, and liquids from syringes.  They learn how if feels to have things on their bodies, on their feet, on their tails, on their faces.

They are exposed, taught coping skills, taught how to say no safely and how to feel comfortable with all of these things long before anything medically is ever wrong with them.


Because after getting tear filled panicked calls from owners where their dog absolutely has to have eye drops, ear medications, take pills, etc and the dog is so upset about it that their vet said,”either the dog will need to be sedated or you need to find someone to help you with this,” (hence the referral to folks like me), I’ve learned, the extra thought, time and energy it takes to teach these skills before the need arises, is always worth it.  Less stress on your dog.  Less stress on you.  And more effective means of treating your animal’s medical concern.

Plus, your vet and their staff will love you.

“Your dog does a chin target and hold still and tilts his head back when you ask him to and we don’t have to wrestle him into a corner and hold him down?  All we have to do is stop when you say so you can give him a treat then?  For real?!  Why don’t all of our clients teach this stuff?!”

“Wait, your dog will stand there when you ask and we can just stick this fluids needle in and he won’t move?  Awesome!”

“Your dog will shove his head into the cone when you ask him to wear it?  Nice!  So much easier!”

“Your dog is so relaxed in that muzzle!  I don’t think we need to sedate him, local should work to pull this broken toe nail out.  Wow!  He just sat there and ate treats!  That was the easiest broken toe nail removal I’ve ever done!”

“I did like you said and asked your dog to lie down once we got him on the ultrasound exam table.  He did!  That was the easiest ultrasound I’ve done in months!”

(all true statements I’ve heard from vets and their staff in reference to my various dogs over the years)

Being a vet and vet tech is hard, physical work!  Anything I can do that not only benefits my dog but also makes my vet’s day easier and safer, is a win for everyone.


0 thoughts on “Yes, I train medical behaviors before I ever need them

    1. Hi Julia, thanks for your comment! Sure! I can absolutely write out a couple of break downs of the behaviors and will put that on my future posts list. Thanks for the suggestion!

  1. Such a good idea. We call the cone the “cone of shame” as any dog we’ve had who had to wear it seemed so ashamed by it. And one could not seem to walk forward with it on. So good idea to do all this before the dog is actually ill or recovering from a surgery. Getting medication into horses however is another matter! If the like the tast it’s easy if they dont it’s impossible.

    1. I recently read a post from the Animal Behavior Center FB page about them training 28yr old cockatoo to take an ill tasting medicine from a syringe force free. Teaching the parrot that licking the medicine was a way to get a high value reinforcer for the bird. they have some great posts on their FB page about training various species (birds, pigs, etc) behavior. If you’re on FB you might enjoy their page

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