I’ve been holding off on this post as I wanted to get my wits about me and some research under my belt. Now that I have that, I’m ready to share.
As some of you know, Titan goes to our Vet regularly for nail trims. Every three (3) weeks to be exact. He likes going cause he gets to go for a ride and see his girlfriends who flaunt all over him.
About 2 months ago at our nail trim, Titan got a bit agitated and acted inappropriately. Inappropriately mean, he growled and gave a warning air nip. Of course I have him soft muzzled just in case of an “oops”. I was embarrassed and shocked because in almost three (3) years, he never did this. There were several things that could have come into play that time, so I’ll break it down for you.
- Titan’s girlfriend “vet tech” did not greet him at the door and take us back
- The vet tech who started to trim his nails, cut his quick a long time ago
- When he girlfriend “vet tech” did come out to trim his nails, she was a little upset and had been crying
Titan is a very “sensitive” boy. Meaning, he is very sensitive to others feelings, body language, and tone of voice. It’s quite possible since he was already upset about not getting to see his girlfriend and then when he did she was upset, that it just angered him.
After my apologies, we left and hoped for a better visit in three (3) weeks.
Off we go to the vet again and anticipating a better visit than last time.
- Titan was greeted and we were taking back into the room by someone other than his girlfriend
- There was a security guy doing work in the room and when Titan saw him, he instantly tensed
- Despite me saying “He’s not going to be good with him there”, they attempted a nail trim
- His girlfriend began the nail trim, however, once again had been upset
The whole scenario made me and my boy uncomfortable and once again, he acted inappropriately. This time, not all his nails got trimmed and he went to give a “warning’ nip when he got his Bordatella shot.
Again the apologies and shocked at Titan’s behavior. I truly felt bad for Titan because (1) he doesn’t act this way normally; and (2) he couldn’t tell me what was going on other than he was scared. Yes, my boy is as dysfunctional as I thought, but I still love him to pieces and we will get through this!
Thankfully my vet’s office now has a behaviorist who actually was there during this second visit. We proceeded to have a conversation outside of the room about his behavior. She mentioned to me what I had been thinking for some time, Fear Aggression. (Titan has always been insecure around new people mostly and large groups of people.) By this time, Titan had calmed down and was back to his goofy, flirty self. She said she’d get some information together for us at our next visit so I could learn better how to deal with this “fear”.
Low and behold, we haven’t made it to our next three (3) week appointment because Titan injured his leg so back we went earlier this week.
I watched Titan in the exam room and because we had to wait a little bit, he got a little anxious. I saw him tremble a bit and he started breathing heavy. I was able to comfort him and get him settled down however, when the vet and tech came into the room, I warned them about it and asked if they had a basket muzzle. I am very proactive at the vet and we normally wear a soft muzzle when the vet or techs are within close proximity, especially with nail trims and injuries.
The tech, Titan’s girlfriend, came back with a basket muzzle. I introduced it to Titan and put it one for his leg examination. He seemed fine with the muzzle for a little while and since the exam was done, we took it off. No Fear Aggression this time! Yeah!
In discussion his previous behavior with my vet and the behaviorist, she said “Sometimes you just need to get back to basics.”
So now we are not only working on his leg injury (rest, leash walks only, no jumping, and Rimadyl twice a day); we are also no practicing with the basket muzzle with treats so he knows the muzzle is a good thing and not to fear.
I get Titan to sit down and show him his muzzle. He wags his tail. I show him a treat in my hand. He wags his tail. I put the muzzle on him. No tail wag. I show him the treat. Tail wag. He gets the treat with the muzzle one. Then repeat a few more times, keeping his tail wagging as a sign he is happy. If his tail doesn’t wag, he doesn’t get the treat until he does. Yes, I had to coax him once and say “I don’t see that tail wagging! You better wag that tail!” And then it wags.
The behaviorist is hoping that by using the basket muzzle and knowing it’s a good thing, it will help ease his fear aggression while there. I’m not sure if this will help, I guess we’ll find out during our next visit.
Have you ever had to deal with Fear Aggression and if so, how did you or do you handle it?
Today I did order some Rescue Remedy as was recommending in helping with Fear Aggression. Have any of you used it?