Giving a Pill or bandaging a wriggly furball can be tricky!
This weekend we were training in Horsham. A beautiful day meant as we set up, we had the doors open so the dogs could trot in and out and enjoy the garden. True to form, when Chi came back in, I noticed that he had been bitten 5-6 times on his side and these bites had swelled up making the hair rise forming little raised blotches. Typical!
As I know that Piriton antihistamine has been OK’d for Chi to use by our vet, it was a simple enough case just to nip to the first aid kit in the car and administer a tablet to counteract the reaction. By this time, our class had already arrived and so we used the situation as a teaching session.
I popped my finger behind his canine fang which encouraged him to open up his mouth. Using the cue “open” as I did so, Chi obliged without any trouble and allowed me to insert the antihistamine into his mouth and place it on the hump at the very back of his tongue. I then quickly withdrew my hand, closed his mouth and gently massaged his throat and gave him a love …… simple!
Once I had finished, I looked up and saw a sea of big-eyed, impressed faces looking on, all of which were remarking how good he was to allow me to do this, and how their dogs would have put up one hell of a fight if they had to do the same thing.
Later in the course, we came to the part on demonstrating how to apply a wound dressing to an injury. This time my “patient” was Axl who lay very still while I applied the wound bandage and then the pressure dressing over the top. Again, when I looked up, the faces were all saying how easy I made it look and how they were sure that doing such a thing on their own dog would be much, MUCH harder because they were unlikely to be quite so amenable to this kind of treatment …. and that got me thinking.
“WHY is it such a battle to medicate or treat your dog?”
I guess the reason is purely down to how often you’ve practiced or carried out the procedure and how comfortable your dog is with what you are doing to him. So why wait until he is ill? Why wait until he is stressed and anxious and the treatment your are giving is very important to his wellbeing, before you embark on applying these techniques for the first time?
I would suggest using times when you are already going to be treating your dog with any old titbit as an easy way to introduce them to taking a pill. If you have a tasty morsel you are going to break in to bits to give him, why not give one treat normally, the next as if its a pill, then another normally again so he gets used to the procedure in a positive way. Done like this, when you actually NEED to give a tablet, he’ll be more than willing to participate with you ….. just ask Chi 😉 Remember to assign a cue to the behaviour too so that he associates the word with the behaviour and knows what’s coming.
I would also suggest practicing things like bandaging every now and then on an evening when you are just sitting together in a relaxed atmosphere. Doing it when there is no pressure at all to get it right means you will both be more chilled. Remember to practice on different legs and different paws so no matter which limb is injured in the future, he’ll be happy to let you do what you need to.
There’s a reason I “make it look easy” and it’s not because I’m any better at it than you (I just get a whole lot more practice!)
Stay safe … and happy practicing! 😉
other blogs on tablets and medication: