Cooperative veterinary care and husbandry has long been a part of the keeping of exotic animals. But if we can train a hyena to stand for a blood draw, or a giraffe to allow application of fly spray, why aren’t we teaching our dogs (arguably, our most trainable companions) similar skills?
Ironically, I believe the answer lies in the dog’s general agreeableness. There would be no way to talk a less-agreeable creature (dolphin, elephant, naked mole rat, etc.) into a nail trim or routine vaccines. Dogs are also quite non-violent compared to most species (not to mention, compared to us) and work hard to choose compliancy over aggression. Humans have taken advantage of this for ages.
But I propose no more. Just because we CAN forcibly restrain a nervous dog for veterinary procedures does not mean we should. My little dog Idgie sparked this thinking in me the day she absolutely refused to have her blood drawn. She was about a year of age, had been working with me at the vet hospital since age 8 weeks, and became so distressed at this simple procedure she was shaking and terrified. I experienced overwhelming empathy for her, and a plan was born. 6 years later, the Perfect Patients online course for cooperative veterinary procedures allows me to help others teach their dogs to cooperate and tolerate veterinary procedures and grooming. You’ll see Idgie in the video below, having her blood drawn, without distress or worry.
Join the class today by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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You make a great point about how many animals in zoos need to have frequent veterinarian procedures to monitor their health. It makes sense that we should be able to train our domesticated dogs to have regular procedures and grooming without too much stress or discomfort. I’m sure it takes time and responsible ownership to help develop these characteristics. Thanks for your post.