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Aggressive behavior at the Vet's office (5 replies)

2 years ago
Mastiff2008 2 years ago

Hello Petful!

I have an Italian Mastiff (cane corso), and she's a little over a year old now.  I've taken her to dog obedience classes, and worked with the trainer for about a year.  Upon stopping, he was happy with where we were in her training and that my dog's behavior is now manageable.  We've been able to go to the park, camping, and the beach with no problems.  At home she is very gentle, loving, playful, and a very happy dog.  I took her to the Vet's office today, because she injured her dew paw.  She became anxious, nervous and scared when the vet tried to touch her injured paw.  At this point she offered to go with anesthesia, and I agreed.  Five minutes later I get a call to come back because my dog is lunging at all 3 doctors/techs, and they couldn't even get close enough to give the anesthesia.  They then tell me I need to take my dog home, give her a sedative, come back in an hour for anesthesia, and an assessment of her dew paw.  They also said that IF that doesn't work my two choices would be either go to a dog behaviorist OR euthanasia.  They deemed my dog too aggressive and unsafe to be around anybody especially children, and that she would be banned from going back to that office.

I feel like it's unfair to say that, considering the fact that they don't give my dog time to adjust being in an unfamiliar place, and taking her from me to perform things on her that she doesn't understand.  EVEN after I explained to them that she doesn't do well without me, and that I could get her to calm down for them to administer an anesthesia.  Is there anyone out there that's had the same kind of experience, or has any kind of advice?  

Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS
2 years ago

Hi Mastiff2008, 

What a difficult situation for everyone involved. 

I can totally see how this situation unfolded, a anxious dog in pain in an unfamiliar situation, with people coming towards her who she doesn't know and trust...Of course a fearful dog is going to lunge and attack. 

In a chihuahua or a small dog this can be worked around, but in a big powerful dog this takes on a whole new perspective because she could do real harm to the staff involved. 

It might if you are in this situation in future, that you suggest the vet gives her a sedative injection with you holding the dog to keep her calm. Sadly, even this tactic sometimes doesn't work if the dog is protective of the owner...

Seeking the help of a qualified behaviorist would be a good idea in the long term. It sounds like your dog has anxiety or confidence issues which need to be worked on for her own sake. Indeed, it could be a concern that if a child acted erratically and caused the dog to be frightened, that child could be at risk.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix but neither is hiding away from the issue an option. Perhaps have a further discussion with the vet and ask for a referral to a pet behaviorist. 

Good luck. 

Sandy Gonzalez
2 years ago
Sandy Gonzalez 2 years ago

Hi. I just wanted to say that I had a similar situation. I had a rescued Akita/Jindo mix. She was terrified at the vet. Her tail would go down, she would urinate and become aggressive. I also had a vet tell me to put her to sleep!!! I didn't. I found a vet who would work with her issues. We used a muzzle and tranquilizer. She was a very odd dog but great with us. She died in 2010 from old age. I was always very careful with her and she never bit anyone. I just though I would give you my experience with a similar experience. Good luck!!

Melissa Smith
2 years ago
Melissa Smith 2 years ago

Thanks Sandy! I think it's great that you posted this -- some dogs and cats need to be sedated when going to the vet. My cat usually does need some sedation because he gets terrified and wild. It's an option for pet parents to consider -- it's safer for the vet and the techs and much less stressful for the pet.

2 years ago
rescue-lover 2 years ago

Hi Mastiff2008, I also have a fear aggressive dog who is perfect at home, on in my care, yet a freak at the vet's office, scared and aggressive.  I was touched by your post, as it is incomprehensible for a vet to say to put a dog down because of his/her ineptness.  This issue is widespread as vets do not want to help our dogs, yet they are able to help the easy ones.  I feel it is THEIR IGNORANCE and INCOMPETENCE in dog behavior.  They do not understand dogs and have no desire to do so.  They want to treat and make their money and go home.  Yet I believe our dogs have a common problem and while a vet told me he could not help my dog after being bitten (the reason i went to him is because he told me he was FINE with fear aggressive dogs when i inquired).  They stupidly did not sedate nor require a muzzle.  Their ignorance.  I can tell them what is needed, as my dog who is perfect, calm and sedate at home is petrified at the vet of strangers.  Some vets are CLUELESS as to how to properly handle these normal dogs' issues and would rather not. Your dog should NEVER be told it should be euthanized (animal cruelty).  They are simply embarrassed because they are inept at handling difficult dogs.  I have 2 easy dogs and one difficult, and simply find a respectable vet in your area.  I have found a vet who has a dog like mine and she is wonderful and kind, and knows simply what to do.  Good luck to you and your dear dog 🙂

6 months ago
HeyCatie 6 months ago

Unfortunately there are many Vets that just don't understand the Behavior of certain Breeds... We have 3 German Shepherds and dealt with the same thing. I had to find a Vet who #1 wasn't afraid of the Breed.. and #2 Understands the personality of them.  I felt like I had to "Train" the Vet! lol.. In my situation, my Dogs do MUCH better when I'm not with them.  They go into protective mode in those small examination rooms. You know your dog best.. If you feel you need to be with them then go that route.  I would however put a muzzle on to protect all.  Once we established the best way to handle them at the Vet... All is well. They are the Office Favorites now.. But, I will say they are also very intuitive... and there is one Vet Assistant that they DO NO LIKE.. No matter what.  And when I watch the reaction of this person.. They STARE at them.. Obviously nervous or uncomfortable around them and THAT is the problem.. Sheps know when someone isn't "Right" with them.. and immediately sense them as a threat... Good Luck!


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