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We just got a 4 year old golden retriever. The previous owner mentioned the dog is never comfortable with the vet. Since the golden was an "adult" has only been to vet twice. I just took him to the vet this past week and nearly bit the vet while he was examining his legs. The golden did not back down when the vet reprimanded him. He kept his stare. The vet was extremely concerned about our golden being around children. We have had the golden for two weeks and is fantastic with all of us (especially my children: 8 and 10). Any insights???
 

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I have heard that sometimes dogs do better with the vet when the owner is not in the room with the dog. Not sure how true that is, I did have two dogs in the past that hated the vet and growled at them. Both of them did have other behavioral issues.

One of them I took to a trainer and with training for fear aggressiveness and better obedience, he became very well behaved with the vet.
 

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Aggression towards the vet during a very stressful time does not translate into being aggressive towards children.


I would work on training him to not be so stressed at the vet's office. Is he nervous in the car? If so, start there. get him in treat him, get him out. Once he's able to relax in the car, start the car. Treat him. Turn the car off. Until he's relaxed in that situation. Drive to the vets and sit in the parking lot treating him. Eventually, get him out of the car, but don't take him in yet. Treat him in the parking lot. Once he's not nervous there, go up to the door, if he starts to get anxious, don't take him through the door until he's relaxed. Keep up an upbeat conversation with him and make sure he gets lots of treats.

Ask the folks at the front desk if they will treat him with some super yummy treats when you bring him in. And then leave. Do this step over and over until he's relaxed. Then move into a room (but don't have the vet come in yet). Treat him until he's relaxed and then leave. When you get to the point where the vet comes in, have the vet treat him with some super high value treats and then leave. Over and over. He will start to look forward to the vet coming in through the door.

I wouldn't have him examined until he is totally happy to see the vet come in. He probably had a bad experience as a puppy and is very frightened at the vet. Dogs have a fight or flight instinct and it sounds like your dog follows the fight instinct. You just need to work on making the vet a less scary place for him and I think you will do fine.

You may also want to work on muzzling him at home if you are worried he will bite the vet while being examined. Again, make it a good thing by giving him some super yummy treats, like cooked chicken. Put the muzzle on, slip him some chicken, take it off before he paws at it. Over and over. That way if you have to use it at the vet, he doesn't associate an already stressful situation as even worse when he has a muzzle slapped on him.
 

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I agree with Fostermom something happened that you don't know about and you just need to be patient to turn it around. Also the last owner has now put a bit of fear in you - remember dogs pick up on our feelings too. So if you were a bit nervous or hesitant so was your dog. You need to be upbeat and happy to have any chance of your dog being upbeat and happy.

Remy loves, loves, loves the vet. Then again Remy loves anything that means he gets attention. He doesn't love everything the vet does - but overall in his mind it is a happy place. We stop there often sometimes to pick up food for the cat, sometimes to pick up medicine and sometimes to just say hi - and he is always thrilled to see everyone.

Give your guys a break you've only had him two weeks, he doesn't even know you yet, let alone your vet - work with him. He'll calm down and it will all be fabulous.

good luck
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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my oldest girl had repeated negative experiences at one male vets office -she had painful, chronic ear infections that required many trips to the vet... she earned herself the great, big, orange, caution decal on the front of her folder. We bought our own muzzle and got her accustomed to having one put on at home. Reducing that struggle and conflict...

We ended up switching to a female vet at a totally different practice - no more baring teeth..no growling...no more snapping...I still muzzle her for any of the potentially painful parts of the exam and if she needs to be held/restrained....but the fear-association seems to have been pretty specific..

Because the restraint was part of her problem at the vets office...I did and still do use great care to be sure no children hug or corner her...just not worth the risk.

What Fostermom said is true...the fearful aggression at the vet can be situational. However, it would keep me on my toes at home though...
 

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Since you are dealing with a older adult dog and I bet the other owner didnt tell everything that has happened in this dogs life you have some baggage to deal with. I have only had one dog that hated the vets ( my APBT Vendetta). SHe doesnt mind female vets quite as bad as male vets.

I would make going to the vets something that happens on a weekly bases. Just walk him in there and have him weighed give the people working there some treats to give him. Maybe sit down once and while and chat with other people then leave. It isnt stressful for him and maybe he will get so that he actually likes the vet. I would talk to the vet too and see if there was a time that he wasnt too busy that worked so he( the vet) could just come out and stand with you offer a treat and leave again.
 

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Missing Naughty Charlie
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My first rescue Charlie 1 hated the vet i had to muzzle her and the vet and me had many a wrestle on the surgery floor but i took her to the vet every time i had to take my JRT and in the end she was fine i know she didn't like men.
My vet was very good with her and about a year later no muzzle the vet said i can't believe its the same dog.
 

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First of all, a muzzle is not a badge of dishonor. Wouldn' t you rather say the dog has never bitten someone??? I judge dogs from when they are the most stressed..... At the vet's...
 

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A few years ago, Brooks started to get a little anxious about going to the vet so I started doing things like what Fostermom suggested. Anytime we are driving by the vets and I have a few minutes to spare, I take Brooks in.
Sometimes we don't do anything at all---I mean, we go inside and we go right out (I don't give treats) but I just make it an ordinary thing...you know, going to the vets is a big nothing. Other times I weigh him and they come over and pet him or the vet comes out and talks to him and pets him. Again, I want the message to be that going there is not a worrisome thing. It is just one of the ordinary things we do.
This has worked.
 

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My dog had a bit of an issue when the veterinarian's assistant tried to stick a thermometer up his rear-end. He kept turning around to face the person and keep his rear-end safely out of reach. Eventually after several repetitions he sort of made a snapping motion at her and she had to skip taking his temperature.

The funny thing is this didn't extend to anything else. He loved being around the vet and vet assistant and eagerly lobbied to be petted and get treats. He didn't even squirm or make any objection to the vaccination shots. He was just not going to let anyone stick anything up his butt. I can't say I blame him, really. ;) As soon as the thermometer was put away, he returned to his usual friendly self.

I felt a little bit of mental aggression toward the vet when I saw the bill, but that's another story. ;)

Anyhow, I wouldn't necessarily say that you need to be worried about your dog around kids just because he is a little aggressive at the veterinarians office. At your home, I'd imagine he feels like he's in a safe environment and that he knows your children are part of his family/pack and feels comfortable with them, and possibly even protective of them. That's a total different scenario from being in a strange place with an intimidating adult stranger trying to get in your face and probe various things. ;)

What I'd say is just keep an eye on your dog and your kids when they interact. Make sure the kids know not to pull the dog's tail or try to ride him like a horse or that kind of thing. Remind them that dogs are uncomfortable being hugged (A dominance gesture in the dog world), they like being petted instead. Make sure they respect the dog and don't throw objects at him or do anything like that that might make him feel unsafe. Maybe don't leave them alone together until a bit of time has passed and you know they'll get along.

Most golden retrievers I know absolutely love children, and children love them. Children that grow up with goldens think of them as their best friend a lot of times. They all kind of run around and play together and tire each other out and have a grand old time. The enthusiasm of goldens as a breed, and their playful natures matches up well with the temperament of a lot of young humans. And children who grow up with goldens often wind up getting their own when they're adults, not willing to settle for any "lesser" breed of dog.

I think you made a good choice for your children getting a golden. It'll create memories and experiences for them that they'll really cherish.

Just remember to use common sense and remember that any pet is still an animal, not a wild animal, but an animal, so it's worth just an eye on things and making sure there aren't any misunderstandings between him and the kids. There likely won't be any problems, but just like you'd watch the kids with a new human playmate or screen a new babysitter, it does make sense to keep an eye on things until you're all totally comfortable with the situation and the dog has become a full fledged member of the family. :)
 

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Missing Naughty Charlie
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Since you are dealing with a older adult dog and I bet the other owner didnt tell everything that has happened in this dogs life you have some baggage to deal with. I have only had one dog that hated the vets ( my APBT Vendetta). SHe doesnt mind female vets quite as bad as male vets.

I would make going to the vets something that happens on a weekly bases. Just walk him in there and have him weighed give the people working there some treats to give him. Maybe sit down once and while and chat with other people then leave. It isnt stressful for him and maybe he will get so that he actually likes the vet. I would talk to the vet too and see if there was a time that he wasnt too busy that worked so he( the vet) could just come out and stand with you offer a treat and leave again.

Yes the old owner did not say anything only she hated be groomed hence when i got her she was very matted and about to be PTS she was only 5 years old and the rescue knew i did not have childen so they asked me to give her a chance and of course i did took 2 years before she would trust me fully but what a lovely dog she turned out to be.:D
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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First of all, a muzzle is not a badge of dishonor. Wouldn' t you rather say the dog has never bitten someone??? I judge dogs from when they are the most stressed..... At the vet's...
Heck yes!
Plus, I know my dog gets a more thorough exam if the vet can examine without worrying about a a mouthful of teeth flashing at her....and I am able to stay calm and listen to what the vet is saying/teaching...my lowered anxiety in turn helps the dog stay calm...
 

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First of all, a muzzle is not a badge of dishonor. Wouldn' t you rather say the dog has never bitten someone??? I judge dogs from when they are the most stressed..... At the vet's...
Sally's Mom, thank you for saying this. Muzzles are there to protect the employees, owners, and pets.

Anyway, I agree with what has been said. I loved the advice about taking him there once or twice a week, get a weight, have staff give him treats or other clients and make it an overall good experience.
 
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I helped rescue a GSD that was definitely vet fearful. I had known the owner with his previous dogs and knew this dog would be a good fit for him. He came in several times a week and just hung out in the waiting room. She grew to trust us and I never felt that she would bite me after the socialization. However, in my first meeting with her, I felt she would bite.
 
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What fostermom said.

My boy is very fearful of men and his vet is male. I have a soft muzzle we use when the vet is checking him over. Once the vet is done I take off the muzzle and he is fine with being in the room with the vet.
 

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Since he'd only been to the vet twice in his life (!) it could be that he's just never had a chance to get used to it. It's probably a new, very scary thing for him.
Or, like someone else said, I'm wondering about the possiblity of some pain in his leg(s.) You might want to have that checked out.

Sally's Mom said:
First of all, a muzzle is not a badge of dishonor.
Thank you for that!

Riley is muzzled at the vet's, too. He had a bad experience with a couple techs who should have chosen a different line of work. Then, he had a vet who backed away and gave up the minute he growled, which only told him that his aggression is effective. Since then, he's been muzzled.

I bought a muzzle to take in with us and I put it on him before the vet starts the exam (or before a tech does his nails, etc.) He's fine before and after - they can walk right up to him, pet him, and he's fine. But when they're ready to start "doing things" to him, he gets real defensive and snarky. The muzzle keeps everybody safe and it actually calms Riley down. He doesn't even growl anymore, once that muzzle goes on.

Sure, I wish he didn't have to be muzzled, but I don't consider it to be the end of the world, either.
 

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Jessie, my border collie, has issues with going to the vet. Her previous owners (I've had her since she was about 2) would often leave her for extended periods, and hence, she hated the place. I would take Grace w/me as her support dog on visits, and that helped a lot. It was a total freakout if Grace wasn't there.

We recently changed vets, and the new vet ignored Jess initially while discussing her case with me, so Jess could concentrate on checking her out w/o eye contact. When Jess decided she was ok, the vet put her hands on her and petted her. Later, she was able to examine a relaxed Jess without growling and showing teeth. It was such a great experience. I'd suggest a different vet.
 

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I cannot get my Toby to leave his regular vet's office--he loves visiting with the staff so much that he will literally sit and not budge when we are ready to go! We live close by and as he was growing we made a point to stop in on walks, say hello and then go get a weight on him to keep it in check. The staff always makes a special point of greeting him, treating him and making him feel like a VID (very important dog). My Barkley was rescued as an almost 7 year old and endured a year of intensive veterinary care before he was available for adoption. As a result he was nervous about going to the vet at first; however, we made a point of doing the weekly visits with him as well and he also enjoyed going to the clinic and greeting everyone. He was still a little nervous about being handled, but the vet techs and vets knew his back story and bent over backwards to make him comfortable by spending time just loving on him before starting any tests or procedures.

Like the others said, a concentrated effort in giving your dog a new association with the vet may work wonders, and if the clinic employees aren't willing to work with you on this, maybe another clinic will.
 
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