I am afraid of the Dentist

Posted by Sheena Neil on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 Under: Nails and Husbandry
I am very afraid of the Dentist, and I do not know why. Nor do I know when it started exactly.
As a kid, and even a teenager, I could have my teeth cleaned, poked and prodded, and even filled with only a small amount of anxiety.
These days, however, I require sedation for most procedures.
I do not remember any specific visits that were more traumatizing than others. Perhaps the Dentist touched a particularly painful tooth, or those little wedges were left in too long and I started to panic. 
Past visits were not very pretty. I cry, I hyperventilate, and have had panic attacks. 

That was until I found a Dentist who understands my fears and works with me, not against me. I can keep myself calm during cleanings, I am extremely uncomfortable getting x-rays with those wedges in my mouth, but I can not have the Dentist poking around at my teeth. My current Dentist, and her staff, get it!! They do what they can and continually make sure that I am comfortable and doing O.K.

In the past I've tried a variety of self calming and meditation methods, I've been prescribed anti-anxiety medication to take before an appointment. The medication didn't work, at all, I still had a panic attack. 

My absolute worst nightmare would be to have a team of assistants pin me down, sit on me, and force me to tolerate having my teeth poked at with those little metal picks, or worse yet, to have them all drilled, even with freezing. It's difficult for me to hear the sound of that drill, even when I'm not in the chair being worked on. It sends shivers down my spine and my eyes tear up.

My fear of the dentist is a real fear. No matter how irrational it seems, it's still very real.
And I understand fear. I work with fearful dogs all the time. I've studied fear. How it works, what makes it worse, what makes it better.
In the scenario above there is no reward that would get me through my worst nightmare. I wouldn't agree to having my teeth poked at for a million dollars.

So what does my fear of the dentist have to do with dog training?

I have a choice!!!

I can tell my Dentist what I can handle and what I can't. I can tell her when to stop and when something makes me uncomfortable. I can schedule my fillings to be done under sedation.
Your dog can not.

That means it's up to you, as a dog owner, to speak up for your dog. If you notice your dogs anxiety increasing when at the vets office or groomers then you need to speak up! If your vet or groomer can not work in a manner that keeps your dogs stress to a minimum then it's time to look around for someone who can. 

You can teach your dog to accept handling and restraint in a force-free and stress-free way. 
The problem with forcefully restraining a dog who is fearful and already stressed is that their fear will escalate. It won't "maybe" escalate. It will escalate. 

I teach my clients how to work on handling at home, where the dog is most relaxed. By practising at home the handling and procedures at the clinic are not strange or scary because the dog is used to being handled in that way already. 

The first thing I teach is how to get a dog on it's side. When a dog is on it's side we can easily examine half of their body from nose to tail. By putting this position on cue we can ask the dog for the behaviour when we visit our vet, we do not need to force them. 

We can take a proactive approach to handling, restraint, and a large variety of grooming and veterinary procedures.
In the previous post we talked about nails and foot handling (if you haven't read it yet check it out, there are a lot of resources).

Dogs can be trained to accept eye drops (YouTube video here), mouth exams (YouTube video here), and even injections.

For more information on husbandry skills and how to teach them you can
Contact Us or visit our Facebook group Positive Dog Husbandry

In : Nails and Husbandry 

Tags: dog nails  mouth exams  eye drops  ear cleanings  veterinary procedures  positive husbandry 

About Me

Sheena Neil Owner/Trainer Keystone Training