This month our star is a 6-year-old German Shepherd x Husky dog called ‘Barclay’.
Barclay came to us as a new patient in February. He had gradually become more and more nervous and fear aggressive visiting his previous vets and this had escalated to the point where they were unable to examine him and he had therefore missed his vaccination booster.
Barclay and his owner came in for an initial visit with vet nurse Jodie to discuss his problem and for Jodie to see how he behaved when in the veterinary environment. Barclay’s owner explained his history and what triggers upset him. A plan of social visits and desensitisation to the vet practice surroundings was created. Part of the plan was for Barclay to be trained to accept and wear a muzzle. This was achieved gradually at home with Barclay’s owner following a step by step guide to ensure he was at ease.
Muzzle training is a very useful tool for all dogs, as it makes the muzzle a normal part of life for a dog, just like wearing a collar or harness. This then means that if they need to wear a muzzle for safety reasons, it does not scare them or add to their distress. Basket type muzzles are best as they allow the dog to open its mouth to pant or drink and it is still possible to give them treats through it.
Within a few weeks of dedicated training at home, Barclay was happily wearing his muzzle to his visits. Over this time, Barclay’s owner and the nurse were able to understand that Barclay became more agitated if the door to the room was closed and if he could not see you approach him. Barclay was most calm when allowed to stay outdoors in the garden.
On each visit, vet nurse Jodie encouraged Barclay to sit or give a paw for treats and was able to stroke and handle him. Barclay was also prescribed an anti-anxiety drug called Trazadone to help him during his most challenging visit – his annual booster vaccination! The consult was conducted by vet Sophie whom he had already met, out in the garden. The injection was given without any concern from Barclay and vet Sophie was also able to listen to his heart and feel his tummy. This was a real achievement for Barclay, and we were so proud of him.
Barclay’s visits have now been reduced to a once a month weight clinic, allowing us to support his owner with his weight loss plan and to continue to encourage a happy association with visiting the veterinary practice and with the staff members.
Well Done Barclay! This award is well deserved!