I decided after today's appointment, I want to teach Gimme some handling skills specific to veterinary procedures, to help her prepare for those kinds of experiences. She was not happy about the x-ray and even with me taking charge, she was more anxious than need be. Sure she bounced back - she IS resilient; still it didn't need to be so unpleasant.
I do have to say with her confidence around people, she isn't bothered by most stuff. She licked peanut butter the whole time they were doing the blood draw - only pausing briefly in her licking when they actually stuck her with the needle, but not bothering to turn and see what they were doing. Given what a drama queen she was the first time our vet took her temperature (at 9 weeks), this is huge improvement. She was totally fine with the veterinarian's very personal exam. She was a little curious about the vet tech who kept sliding a catch basin under her as she was peeing. Gimme would turn to look at this weirdo, which would cause her business end to move sideways and no longer be over the basin. She wasn't afraid, just didn't expect it.
Generally Gimme will let me roll her over onto her back, but mostly I really take my time and it always ends in a tummy rub and booby fluffling. She even volunteers this position in the morning when she is sure I've waited too long to get up. There is something about giving her a tummy rub and booby fluffle which wakes me up happy. Smart Gimme - works every time.
Tonight I started free-shaping her to "plop". It was a good way to get her started, if not totally effective. She quickly started throwing "grape" at me (rollover). It wasn't exactly how I intended it to go, but worked well to set me up to introduce a little hands on while bending over her. I'd use my hands to interrupt the rolling and steady her on her side, while giving her a steady stream of treats.
From there I got down on the floor with her and lured her into "plop" position and then used a lot more hands on while she got her treats. She got about 200 treats, so I'm sure the association is a good one. This clearly falls under desensitization and counter-conditioning.
More than anything, I want her confident about the idea of getting into this position when I ask for it in any location and on any surface (whether or not its on a verbal cue) AND most important, for her to be comfortable and relaxed with whatever handling might need to be done.
I'd love to hear what things you've taught your dog to help them prepare for veterinary procedures. Feel free to share, eh.