Dog Restraint Made Easy
I am a former veterinary technician, and I think even if you are not actively serving in that world once you have, you still feel like a vet tech.
Some days I miss it so very much and other days I am glad that I don’t have to deal with some of the emotional trauma you have to see when you work with people and animals.
The good thing is, the knowledge and the skills stick with you once you have worked in that world. And, this knowledge makes me a better dog trainer and a better “momma”.
The hard thing is that sometimes when you are working with your animals you need another skilled set of hands.
But these skills aren’t necessarily common knowledge for most people and it requires a quick thinker and someone who isn’t willing to give up!
Recently I needed a little help with an injured raccoon we were getting ready to release into the wild. I was capable of safely holding him and his little head still and keeping him from biting me, but I needed my husband to quickly put a muzzle on him so that we could attend to a wound.
But he was a little too apprehensive to get the muzzle on quick enough.
It wasn’t his fault! It is intimidating to try to muzzle a growling snapping adult raccoon!
Unfortunately we weren’t able to muzzle him, but I was able to get him the treatment he needed for release.
I Think All Dog Owner’s Should Know a Few Things About Safe
The first thing to know is that ALL dogs, provided they actually have teeth, bite.
Your dog will bite, your neighbor’s dog will bite, and despite how adamantly your friend says her dog would never bite… he will too.
It is like the TV Show “House” where doctor House says, “Everybody lies”. Well, all dogs bite!
All dogs have a trigger, it may be pain or fear or a combination of both but you never know when your dog might bite.
As a veterinary tech, it was our job to make sure that a dog NEVER bit a vet! If a dog was going to bite, we had to sacrifice ourselves because we were less necessary to the achievement and success of the hospital to make money. Sometimes you have to make sure the dog doesn’t bite you or someone else who gets close!
But I will be the first to tell you, none of us wanted to incur a bite or a scratch so we learned to restrain a dog (any dog) and still stay safe.
If you are ever put into a position where your dog has been (heaven forbid) hit by a car, or been in a dog fight, or has cut or ripped a paw, or is in need of emergency veterinary help it is best to know how to restrain your dog and still keep yourself safe.
I also use these same skills to assist me when I trim nails more on that click here, or clean ears of a dog that is not so accommodating.
Whenever I restrain my own dogs I remember that they are animals and they have a threshold that I might hit, so I make sure to remember they might bite me and therefore I must keep myself safe.
If your dog is obstinate growling or already showing aggression, you may need to use a muzzle or take your dog to the vet for professional help.
The First Hold
The first way to safely hold your dog for an examination or a nail trim is to lightly wrap one arm around the dog’s neck and the other around the dog’s tummy right in front of his hips or you can use your other hand to hold a paw while nails are being trimmed, or keep him still by holding him under his arm pits.
I prefer to keep my other arm around his tummy so if he decided to fight and scratch me, it is easier for me to apply pressure and lift him up. This keeps him from digging his nails into my back, leg or arm.
It is important not to use more force than you need (especially with cats!) if you are nervous and squeezing the animal tightly he will feed off of your energy and fight. Instead you use the lightest touch possible to keep the dog still.
If he fights you can easily and quickly keep him in one place with this particular hold. You just flex your muscles and hold to keep him still.
Because your arm is wrapped around his neck, you can keep him from snapping at your face, even if he does start to get aggressive. You can also feel him growl as he begins to hit his threshold.
The second hold we would use, was for dogs that were really squirmy.
Some dogs are less likely to fight if you put them on their side. You can’t run away as easily if you are laying down!
So first you lay your dog down on his side.
Next facing your dog’s back you take your arm closest to his head and place that arm over his neck, your elbow toward his head and grab the leg on the bottom.
Your other arm goes on top of his back near his tummy and in front of his hips and you again grasp the bottom leg.
As with the other hold, you don’t use any more force than you need. If the dog struggles, you are easily able to keep his head still with your arm and elbow and you can keep his feet and body still because you are holding the legs he is laying on.
You May Never Need to Restrain Your Dog
But, something may happen that you may need to bandage a paw or hold your dog in an emergency.
Knowledge is the best way to prepare yourself in an emergency!
And, if you are just needed a better way to trim some nails, either of these holds can be helpful!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.