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DanaDVM, Dog Answer Team
Category: Dog
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old english sheepdog: groomed..his whole attitude turns aggressive

Customer Question

I have an old english sheepdog who is very domineering. He has had several BAD visits to the vet and the last one really abused him where he could not move for almost 10 days. He needs to be groomed and the second we enter a vetas office his whole attitude turns aggressive. We can not get a muzzle on him because of the hair. We is suffering with the mats and we can’t seem to get him cut. Is there a medication we can give him so we can completely knock him out and grooom him ourselves. We need some HELP! Thanks Maureen
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  DanaDVM replied 11 years ago.
 So, even if the dog remains out of a vet clinic you feel like the dog needs to be totally out to groom?


Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
I hope you have chosen a new vet for this needed procedure. That should help limit your dog's fear of going to the vet if the surroundings and people are not the same.
I suggest going in with out your pet and talking with the receptionist at the vet's office about how frightened your dog has become about going to the vet. Ask if the vet would consider prescribing something to reduce the dog's anxiety before you bring him in or giving him something right away when he arrives.
If your dog likes the car when you get to the vet's office let them know you are there but are waiting in the car with your pet to reduce the time he is in the vet office feeling stressed without seeing the vet. This should help him some too.
I know my vet gives very stressed dogs a shot to help them relax when they are brought in for surgery. I'm sure a vet could do the same for a dog that needs serious grooming.
Once you have the dog trimmed down this time try to practice grooming with the dog every day. If you start brushing him while the coat is short and teach him that its good (I give out a taste of a special treat my dogs love after every grooming session to help them like the grooming) to be brushed then as it gets longer he will be more willing to let you keep his coat tidy. This will make him a lot more comfortable. I do very short grooming sessions at first and work up to longer amounts of time working on the dog as the dog gets more used to the idea that grooming can happen without it hurting him.
Some dogs have really sensitive skin and hate being brushed or combed. Those same dogs usually like to be petted though. So I work doing both with those dogs. I pat and scratch an area to fire off the nerve endings and then brush over the area that is now less sensitive to touch. I am careful to use soft brushes like a soft slicker brush to go through the fur and work on tangles with my fingers or a Mars Coat King stripper.
Once you get your dog used to being groomed at home you probably will be able to do it all yourself if you get the right equipment. I see people using pin brushes and combs at dog shows but for a pet at home I think you would do ok with a gentle slicker brush, a pin brush, a metal comb (wide or medium tooth) and maybe even a Mars Coat King for handling tangles plus scissors or clippers if you want to keep him short coated. Sounds like a lot but works out pretty cheap over the life of a dog.
Bear in mind those mats pull on the skin and hurt the dog so that makes them far more irritable than they should be. With domineering dogs I find positive reinforcement training using a toy or treats as a reward for the right behaviors far easier than trying to overpower the dominant dog with force. Its safer for dog and human too :) Make it fun instead of a fight and I think you will all be happier in the long run.
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.

 If you have a good relationship with your vet and the dog is in good health, you can talk with your vet about using acepromazine at home.  You just have to be careful because they can still bite you if you snip them during the grooming.  I have a cocker here who is terribly fearful and we have to use it for him.  I can flip him over and roll him around and trim his belly with no problem when he is "aced."

If your pet is good health, your vet should be happy to give you a prescription to have on hand.

I hope this helps!

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Yes, the dog does need to be totally out for grooming.
Expert:  DanaDVM replied 11 years ago.

 I feel you have been given good advice. Please let me know if you do not find it adequate or do not agree with it and I can try to help you.


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