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lasting fear effects?
  • I may have broken Joey. :-(

    It was about time for me to trim his nails, and being as busy and sleep deprived as I am right now I didn't have the emotional energy to spend on a 45 minute battle with him to do it myself. I thought I'd take the opportunity to take him to the vet to let them clip his nails and, at the same time, let them determine if a sedative might help him out.

    They did what I expected and held him down while the vet trimmed his nails. He reacted as he always does, screaming and expressed his anal glands. They stopped about half way through deciding it was enough for today. They recommended I continue working with him to get him over his fear.

    So here's the concern. He seemed fine when we got home. All three dogs played energetically in the office for a few minutes and then napped while I had a 2 hour phone meeting. I was spent after the meeting, so I decided to take them outside one-by-one for a little training before our walk. First Thea, then Joey, then Lucy. Thea and Lucy did great, but Joey just seemed distracted and not very excited which was my first clue something was up. I aborted teaching him the new behavior I wanted to work on and worked with him on a few things he has down pretty well like sit, hide, and watch me. I tried down a few times, which he already knows pretty well, but he just couldn't seem to get it. This was my second clue something was up.

    We then went for our evening walk which was pretty normal and I fed them dinner. After dinner, Lucy and Joey played on the couch for a while and then cuddled while napping. At some point Joey woke up from his nap panting and yawning a lot (my third clue something is up). When I went to take them out for a potty break, he was very slow to respond. Then back to my home office to do some work. Joey usually takes the opportunity to play a lot with Thea when we get to the office, but he showed no interest. He just wanted to hide behind my overstuffed chair in a place Thea couldn't get to him. Thea tried very hard to get him to play. She barked and play bowed repeatedly to no avail. She finally gave up, and now Joey remains hiding in the corner, not asleep, but not interested in doing anything either.

    So, what's up? Could it be his nail clipping experience at the vet was traumatic enough that he's reacting to that? It just seems weird since he was apparently fine when we got home. I really started noticing things when we went to do some training. Man, I hope I didn't screw up by taking in today. :-(

    [mod edit: re-categorized due to addition of new category]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 15:55:07
  • brandon_wbrandon_w
    Posts: 3433
    How is Joey this morning?

    It seems like the trip to the vet could have been very exhausting mentally for Joey. However I really doubt that you "broke" him. I also don't think people holding down a dog and forcing it to have something done is a good thing, but sometimes seems to be the only option. I don't know what to tell you exactly, I'm in the same boat with Nemo and his trips to the vet. You and Joey are not alone in your difficult situations.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    You gotta do what you have to do with these dogs, if they need their nails clipped, then they have to be clipped. And if it takes them a whole day to get over it, then we gotta give them that I guess.
    I think we're all in the same boat with at least one dog. Hell, I bought a damn dremmel that none of the dogs will allow me to use on them yet, and we try to condition them with it daily for two months now. Its frustrating.
    But Joey can feel what you are feeling, and besides having a rough time at the vet like Brandon said - it was probably very exhausting for him today - then he can feel your anxiety about him on top of that. He's probably quite stressed! And that is making you stressed! A vicious cycle. But hang in there - you are a great doggy dad and will always have Joey's best interest at heart, and I hope deep down they know that.
  • I had a lot of problem cutting Akira's nails, just as you were describing. I used this video

    Now, Akira comes lie on top of my legs and sleeps while I cut his nail :) and only takes one treat for 18 nails while at the beginning it had to be 18 treats for 18 nails :)
  • He's better this morning, but still a bit unsure of himself. At least he's sleeping on his bed instead of behind the chair though. :-)


    Akira: That's brilliant! I'm totally going to have to give that a try. Although I'm not very coordinated so clicking with my foot is probably going to be a problem. :-/
  • We know how resilient shiba's are. Joey seems to be at an age where this shouldnt have permanent damage. At 3 years old Niko is finally growing out of the nail clipping horror. Now we know Sasha isnt a shiba by heritage but she was an angel clipping her nails and after a visit to the groomers she was a terror. I assume that they must have gotten the quick. After us doing is religiously she now is an angel again.
    Do you do the exercises with Joey by playing, rubbing, lifting and manipulating his paws without clipping?
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Rachael: Yes, I play with his paws multiple times a day. I do it in all sorts of contexts ranging from play to petting him while he's relaxed and on his side. I even try to get him to earn treats by allowing me to play with his paws. I think the clicker approach in that video will make a big difference.
  • kojichankojichan
    Posts: 178
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Is he more comfortable when you hold him on his back or up for them at the vets or do they always take him away from you into another room? Most dogs do better without the owners but, I'm biased, I think shibas need their owners to give them a little confidence/relief that they aren't going to die from having a toe nail cut. I bought a grooming table with an arm so both dogs have to stand there with me but they can't get away and we practice being calm and standing on the table like at a show so they relax enough to let me work on their feet. The grooming table was an invaluable purchase.
  • They only take him away when they are drawing blood, taking a stool sample, giving him fluids, etc. He HATES to be on his back. It took me five months to be able to rub his belly reliably without him squirming. He usually protests by screaming/crying, but its sort of deflated like he knows there's nothing he can do about it. Its really cute and really sad at the same time.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    I know some small dogs will freeze when they are held up in the air (under the elbows and rump) but held with their legs up making it very easy to quickly trim their nails (they are momentarily disarmed so to speak and freeze up for a minute or two so you can do work on them without restraint).

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