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Thread: Training Your Dog to take Medications

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Methuen, MA; USA

    Training Your Dog to take Medications

    I've recently had problems with Lacey in recovery post dental, due to her reluctance to take pills / tablets / capsules of any kind, EVER. Monthly heartworm pill? It tastes like liver, the other 4 take it as a treat; Lacey will not. Below is a series of training commands you can teach while your dog is healthy, and they will come in handy if / when you have to give medicines. Remember, if you have a puppy, at a minimum you will need to give some pills after the spay / neuter. And with bichons having drop ears, most likely you will have at least one ear infection to cope with over the life span of your dog. This was sent to me by Callie in Florida; it refers to "all your dogs" as she knows I have 5. I suggest you copy - paste into a document, and print it out to read it; it is long. I hope this will help some of you -- and your dogs.

    Subject: How to give Lacey her pills

    Some dogs are more "suspicious" and once they think you are trying to "hide" something you're sunk. This is VERY Long -- it's like 3-4 typed pages. But if you will bear with me and read to the END I think you'll get the idea of how to overcome this with Lacey. UNTIL you can get her to actually take it willingly (you CAN, trust me) you may want to go to PetSmart or PetCo and get a piller -- it's a long thing that looks like a super long syringe - except when you depress the plunger this little gripper comes out of the other end. You put the pill in the gripper and then you open the dog's mouth and push the pill to the BACK of the throat and THEN depress the plunger. It knocks the pill down the throat. You'll need something yummy next to you to put in the mouth so she doesn't hack it back up. This is short term tho.

    Here's the article.
    Some meds can simply be stirred into food -- non-bitter things like milk thistle -- you can simply empty the caps in and stir into food. If you feed only kibble you may want to add a topper -- something a bit wet like baby food or similar to bind the powder. I home cook (for three) so that part is easier for me and a lot of what mine take is powder form (Chinese medicine often uses powders -- it's easier for the body to assimilate). Some things are very bitter -- like Echinacea -- so that is better left in capsules -- we will deal with that later in this.

    ************************************************** *********************************The very *first* thing I will tell you is a goal. Often getting a dog trained so they will take meds literally will save their lives. Underlying all of it is training. Later in this are a ton of tips & tricks to use *now*. But the training has to start today and continue.Honestly? DON'T **EVER** try to hide anything. Don't try to "sneak it" by -- their nose is SO highly developed they KNOW when something is "in" something and you'll wind up with a suspicious dog who has to examine everything thinking you're gonng "slip" something in on them. Instead, teach them to TRUST you. Teach her that you won't be sneaky but you'll TELL her when there is a med, but you'll give it in a yummy form that's slippery enough to slide down easy. Teach her also this way that you CAN be trusted to let her know when something is yummy and a treat.

    ************************************************** *********************************There are two "commands" that will make your life 1000 times easier. These are NOT difficult to teach -- but you must be consistent and you must do them at times when you are NOT trying to give meds. Do this with **all** your dogs at the same time -- getting doggie greed to work for you is a truly wonderful thing. Then, when you do give meds ALSO line everyone up so they 'compete' for the goodie you are giving with the meds. It will change the situation. And if you have to leash the sick one then leash ALL of them. For the training, you will need strips of something/anything -- vary what you use. Strips of steak, hot dog, string cheese. And I do mean **strips** -- as long as you can fit in the palm of your hand. Hold the long piece so the length of it is in your palm and a tiny bit is sticking out between your thumb and finger. Put the dog in a 'sit' and say "GOOD boy! Here -- chew it good!" and offer just the tip of the strip. Don't let go -- encourage the dog to nibble as you s-l-o-w-l-y allow them to pull and nibble the strip from your hand -- Repeating constantly "Chew good! yes, good job, chew good .... CHEW .... chew .... good chew"Now at that point the dog is only responding to the treat. You have to do this repeatedly **with ALL of them** and any other treat you possily can HOLD IT so they literally begin to nibble it before it leaves your hand -- they DO generalize this almost immediately and figure out that it tastes good to chew something and have it in your mouth. So you repeat a zillion times "chew it good!!" Brunschweiger or liverwurst (same thing) -- deli case (I like Kahn's the best, but Oscar Meyer is good) -- do NOT use the low fat one. It's animal fat anyway which is far far better tolerated. But I just take a slice of liverwurst and cut it into sections (maybe sixths for the Kahns, and for Oscar Meyer I'd take a 1" chunk and cut that into sixths). Then just moosh a pill or several into the liverwurst (it's soft).

    ************************************************** *********************************OK -- and I do this as the second part to the SAME training session. Set out next to you little bite sized bits of something very slippery like liverwurst/braunschweiger, ricotta cheese, or even butter (not margerine - dogs do fine with animal fat tho). SLIPPERY stuff. Meat baby food works **very** well for this (avoid ham, but beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb work incredibly well) Again, have everyone sit. Hold up the strip you used previously and say "THIS is CHEW IT GOOD" Hold up the blop of liverwurst and say:"THIS is JUST SWALLOW" (don't yell, but put some emphasis on the words) Hold the first bit of liverwurst high above the dog's nose -- you want the throat in a straight line. Give that bit of slippery food and say "Swallow -- no chew ... just swallow" and you say "GOOD DOG" as it disappears down the throat. Follow it again with another piece -- give each one TWO pieces and reward with a "good dog! that's Just Swallow!" Just the first couple of times you have to link it with "no chew-- just swallow" --- they DO get it. "This one is slippery and goes down easy. JUST SWALLOW." It's a bit on the same theory as teaching a dog to bark on command in order to teach them NOT to bark except they get these commands quickly because they're all yummy. THEN -- you wind up with dogs you can give things like cantalope and watermelon (which are both *very* good for them) and they chew it enough so it doesn't give them gas. At the same time, you can then more easily give them meds. I seriously mean for you to do this with ALL your dogs at once. It will help **enormously** when you give ONE meds. Because they all want what the other gets and the reluctant one often will snap up an offering JUST so the next guy doesn't get it. And that works to your benefit when you're doing meds (I'm getting there!)

    ************************************************** *********************************NOW I CAN HEAR YOU SAY: "But you don't understand -- I can't hide a pill in ANYTHING!" Therein is the point of what I'll now say: NEVER EVER **HIDE** anything from your dog!!!! This is a DOG -- mega nose? Jacobsen's Organ? They can 'smell' things you and I don't even know exist. If you try to "hide" a pill they KNOW it is there. But by trying to "hide" it they distrust what's coming from **your** hands!! Their owner! The ultimate object of their devotion? We hope!! Don't do it. Take this back a step and BE HONEST. Part of the reason the dog runs and hides is because they think now that they must **distrust** everything you offer. "Rather than do that I'll run away." THAT IS SAD. You ultimately want to build trust back up here -- you want them to trust you -- ULTIMATELY you want the dog to understand that IF IF IF there is something nasty in there you will tell them. You will TELL them if there is nasty stuff, BUT you're going to protect them. You're going to **tell** the dog when you put a pill in something. You're going to show it to him ... you're going to let him SEE you're putting it in the slippery "just swallow" stuff. e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e t-i-m-e!!!!!!!!! Yes, he's gotta take it -- but you're going to make it easy and WARN him so he doesn't inadvertently bite into something bitter or nasty. You're going to give him ANOTHER slidey piece right after so it all goes down and doesn't catch and make him choke.**YOU** (the ultimate object of his devotion) are going to take care of him. He can trust you. --- HOW? We're going to kick the "CHEW IT GOOD" and "JUST SWALLOW!" game up a notch. Again -- keep the other dogs there. It's part of what will make this succeed. EVERYONE gets the treat/good stuff. Only one dog may get the medicine. That's ok. You're going to make getting meds an exciting, fun thing -- EVERYONE will want some. (oh my -- they DO!!!) You've just taught them that things coming from your hand are yummy -- but SOME are better chewed (and the taste lasts longer) -- SOME are slippy ... right down your throat! BUT still yummy! Take ONE slippery piece (liverwurst or ricotta cheese -- very slippery, but I like stuff I can mush into a small ball). Show them how you've cut up pieces for everyone. SHOW THEM. But particularly show the piece to the dog getting the pill. Tell them what it is and tell her it's yummy but "JUST SWALLOW". Hold it well above the nose (have them in a sit) with another plain piece in the other hand. Show the dog you have TWO pieces. This is YUM stuff. Then -- show the pill and shove it into the first piece. "This has your medicine in it -- this is gonna help -- take THIS and you'll get this other one!" and again have a second piece in your hand so she gulps the one with the pill and gets the next one. Do exactly that. one two -- but have other lumps there so the other dogs GET the goodie -- but the "sick" dog has gotten TWO. (Trust me -- dogs CAN count) It becomes a wonderful thing to get meds. Everyone gets a treat. Everyong races TO you. But they will ALL learn to trust you in this -- sometimes you gotta get yucky stuff BUT Mom's gonna make sure you don't taste it. You can TRUST her. At this point you'll have to work with this a bit because this one dog has learned to distrust you -- but if you use the 'group therapy' approach (GRIN -- I mean **GREED**) you'll get it to work. This helps UNBELIEVABLY. Remember -- this article was originally done for a woman who was dealng with a dog who had IMHA (immune-mediated hemolytic anemia) -- these dogs take huge mega immune-suppressors like Imuran and cyclosporine -- you can NOT let them bite those capsules and some of them are HUGE. Getting meds down without having to pill them is critical.

    IDEAS:There are a lot of things you can use like this -- ricotta cheese (very low in fat anyway), butter (again it's an animal fat -- FAR better tolerated than something like margerine which is a veggie fat and not digestible for them), yogurt (try different flavors -- it does NOT have to be plain yogurt. Just don't use one with nutrasweet in it -- and I prefer an organic yogurt like Stoneyfield, or Greek yogurt (it's thicker -- some dogs get scared of liquidy stuff hitting them in the face and the thicker Greek yogurt works better. Stuff like peanut butter (which is a nut oil and really NOT at all good for them) and cream cheese -- I don't like them because they are sticky and you want this to be easy. Another thing that I have used **extensively** with meds for IMHA is baby food. I get both meat and veggie baby food and then I'll take a small Glad container and combine one jar of meat with one small container of veggie baby food. It's slippery but a thinner consistency. Same principle as above -- except use a plastic spoon and let her lick it off the spoon. Then put a pill IN the stuff and scoop it out with the spoon (but TELL her "This one has your aza in it!") I'm not crazy -- truly .. if you TELL them what you're doing and let them learn to *trust* you, that you won't try to fool them, this works. The baby food is good quality and good FOR them. It keeps in the fridge so I just take it out after a meal and give out meds when I have stuff that they won't take IN their food.

    DON'T LET YOUR FEELINGS AND FEARS SHOW!!!! Don't apologize to them -- don't act like it' s something bad. Say "This is gonna help". We train all our dogs to know that phrase -- whether at the vet or meds at home -- it means "this may be unpleasant for a second but you're gonna get a treat AND it's ultimately going to help you!" They don't understand all those words -- but if you use it over and over again -- recognizing their fear AND rewarding or compensating them for the brief fear with something great -- It **does** work. I use that phrase ALL THE TIME with a sick dog.

    When you go to the vet "Dr. ____ is gonna HELP you feel better!!" and I always take TREATS to the vet. High value stuff (pieces of steak or liver -- any mega yummy thing and I hand the bag TO the vet so they get to play nice and give the dog treats.)Vets and techs appreciate this -- and it turns going to the vet into a GOOD time. THEN the dog associates it with feeling good and feeling better (even getting a blood stick isn't too bad when a gigglilng tech gets to give you something yummy). So then, I have that vet's "name" that emphasizes a command. "Dr. Bailey says this will help" --- introduces a new med painlessly. Literally tho -- the vet is "treat time" for my dogs. They go NUTS when we turn onto the vet's "road". Because everyone knows going to the vet is GREAT!! I hand bags of treats to the vet and staff -- they like to be the 'good guys' occasionally and they LOVE that my dogs like going there. Holler if I can help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Delaware, USA - The First State/Diamond State - home of The Blue Hens
    Interesting, but it would never work for these two. They are both too old and set in their ways. With Myndi I just dissolve her thyroid pill and mix with her food. Sparky I can't get away with doing that tho, since then he refuses to eat his food if it's been "tampered" with, so I use the Velveta cheeseball method with him for his meds. Luckily all the meds that these guys take are either teeny-tiny pills, or liquid.

    Sandie - let us know if you get your Fluffs trained. It would be interesting to hear if it really works.
    Wolfy ~ Fuzzbutt #3
    My little dog ~ a heartbeat at my feet

    Sparky the Fuzzbutt - PT's DOTD 8/3/2010
    RIP 2/28/1999~10/9/2012
    Myndi the Fuzzbutt - Mom's DOTD - Everyday
    RIP 1/24/1996~8/9/2013
    Ellie - Mom to the Fuzzbuttz

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power
    To know just when the hands will stop - on what day, or what hour.
    Now is the only time you have, so live it with a will -
    Don't wait until tomorrow - the hands may then be still.
    ~~~~true author unknown~~~~


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