See how the Bella Behavior Program worked for these pets!
- Reformed aggressor CJ
- Reformed exam aggressor - Harley
- Reformed nail clipping aggressor - Buster Brown
CJ is an elderly cat who had been tense, hissing, swatting and attempting to bite during the majority of her middle age life during veterinary exams. Before we began to use the Bella Behavior System , care was challenging for CJ. Cj has chronic constipation/megacolon so veterinary care was often associated with being in pain which did not help either.
After finding the best management plan for CJ's constipation and pain, it was easier to handle her in the office. We noted what her exam preferences were using the Bella Behavior System.
At this point, she was tense but not growling or attempting to bite. When we began to use the Bella Behavior System, my techs offered CJ a couple of super yummy cat treats and found she went right after the lean treats by Butler Company. She was actually diving her head into the bag wanting the treats as I examined her. This was a total surprise to myself and her owner. So now every time CJ comes for an exam we have the lean treats ready for her.
You can see how she enjoys them in her video below. She still hisses but is not combative or tense. Exams and follow up for her intestinal problems are easier for her and her family.
Keeping all of the staff informed by way of the Bella Behavior System is essential to a more safe and complete care for CJ. After seeing how rewarding worked for CJ in the office , the client was able to use the treats to redirect CJ away from things that stressed her at home.
Harley is a Rottweiler/lab mix who had been at other veterinary clinics for wellness exams and vaccinations. Harley was restrained more forcefully with each visit to the point where he was now aggressing or vaccination. The first time Harley came to us, we examined on the floor, and were able to have a less stressed exam using peanut butter through the muzzle. Harley did freeze ( an early level of anxiety) and growl, but did not attempt to bite. He readily took rewards after the exam form myself and all of the staff. The staff recorded the preferences for floor exam, muzzle and peanut butter so each exam would be consistent and positive.
Harley came back 1 year later for his wellness exam and was happy to come into the exam area. We used the muzzle positively for safety and he did not show any tension until he actually received the vaccinations. At that point he was standing stiff without growling, but still took the peanut butter through the muzzle. At the third year his wellness exam progressed easily and at the end of the exam Harley came over and playfully head butted my leg. He wagged his tail and readily accepted petting over the shoulder from me. I took out a tennis ball and bounced it for him in the room where he fetched it and brought it back to me. Harley wanted to play! I would have never thought that this formerly scared, tense dog who would warn he might bite would change his attitude to one of happy play. That is the power of rewarding and knowing what makes the exam best for this patient. The client is happy too to know her dog is safe at the veterinarian ( not attempting to bite us and not receiving forceful handling) for care.
Buster Brown - Buster is a mixed breed terrier male neutered dog who began to struggle and attempt to bite when his nails were trimmed at a young age. Less stressful ways of restraining him, offering him treats would help, but he would continue to struggle and attempt to bite whenever the clippers were put on the nail or clicked. To our knowledge he did not have any painful episode over nails. His owners were not able to work on counter conditioning at home, and travel to the office for counter conditioning sessions was difficult. Regular nail trims are important as the owners are elderly and do not want long nails creating a scratching problem.
Here is what we did:
We started with Acepromazine (.25mg/kg) and alprazolam (.05mg/kg) combined given 1 hour before the scheduled nail trim. With this sedation, an animal can still eat rewards and often will. Buster accepted the muzzle without resistance with peanut butter applied to the inside, and administered through the front of the muzzle. At first Buster would still struggle, but not as severely and he would take the peanut butter through the muzzle as the nails were clipped. After approximately 6 sessions, and to this day, Buster takes half his Alprazolam dose and does not need the Acepromazine to have his nails clipped. As you can see in the video ( Nail trim using treats and meds) he takes his peanut butter well and when he starts to struggle it is very limited and he calms down fast. Note how I and the technician give the peanut butter at the end before we remove the muzzle, then after removal. Buster is taken off the table after he is calm. All of this is important for him to learn good things about nail trims around the triggers for his anxiety.
The Bella Behavior System is important for all of the staff to be prepared for Buster to have great nail trims. They look at his label and see that he gets the muzzle with peanut butter and needs his meds taken ahead of time. Now when Buster sees the muzzle his tail wags and he happily puts it on because it means peanut butter! Using the Bella Behavior System to record and rank the reward for nail trims was essential to turning Buster's behavior around.