• 35

The Treatment of Dogs

In this exerpt from the book Mayhew specifically points out the difficulty in administering treatment to a dog on the dog's property and expecially when the owner is present. I can see this being a significant problem with many dogs and especially the ones that are closely bonded to their owners. Our dogs are never treated on their property and are taken off site to the vet's office. 

Do you have any experience with this situation and can you tell how your dogs behaved or how you think they would behave?

Replies (6)
  • From Dogs: Their Management. In this exerpt from his 1854 book, the late Edward Mayhew presented sage advice for those who would attend to a dog as in treatment or crare.  I have copied this snipped from the article posted on Molosserdogs in hopes of sharing some good advice on the general management of the dogs behavior but most importantly our own behaviour towards the dog. A link to the article is presented in the citation at the end of this post.


    He who would attend upon the dog must be able to command his feeling, and, whatever fear he may be conscious of, he must have power to conceal his emotion. The hand slowly and cautiously advanced, to be hastily retracted, is nearly certain to be bitten. Whatever therefore is attempted should be done with at least the appearance of confidence, and the determination of the man will, in the generality of cases, check the disposition of the beast. There should be no wrestling or fighting. The practitioner should so prepare his acts as to prevent the dog in the first instance from effectually resisting, and the animal mastered at the commencement is usually afterwards submissive. If, however, from any cause, the primary attempt should not be effective, the attendant, rather than provoke a contest which can be productive of no beneficial result, should for a brief period retire, and after a little time he may with better success renew his purpose.

    Strange dogs are not easily examined in their own homes, especially if they be favorites and their indulgent owners are present. Like spoiled children, the beasts seem to be aware of all the advantages which the affections of their master give to their humors. They will assume so much, and play such antics, as renders it impossible to arrive at any just conclusion as to the actual state of their health. Dogs in fact are great impostors, and he who has had much to do with them soon learns how cunningly the pampered "toy" of the drawing-room can "sham." For deception, consequently, it is necessary to be prepared, and practice quickly teaches us to distinguish between what is real and that which is assumed. The exertion, however, required to feign disturbs the system, and the struggle which always accompanies the act renders it frequently impossible to make the necessary observation with requisite nicety. Petted dogs are, therefore, best examined away from their homes, and in the absence of any one who has been in the habit of caressing them. Frequently I have found it of no avail to attempt the examination of these creatures at the residences of their owners; but the same animals brought to my surgery have, without a struggle, allowed me to take what liberties I pleased. I usually carry such dogs into a room by myself, and commence by quickly but gently lifting them off their legs and throwing them upon their backs. This appears to take the creatures by surprise, and a little assurance soon allays any fear which the action may have excited. The dog seldom after resists, but permits itself to be freely handled. Should, however, any disposition to bite be exhibited, the hand ought immediately to grasp the throat, nor should the hold be relinquished until the creature is fully convinced of the inutility of its malice, and thoroughly assured that no injury is intended towards it. A few kind words, and the absence of anything approaching to severity, will generally accomplish the latter object in a short period, and confidence being gained, the brute seldom violates the contract.

    Dogs are intelligent and honorable creatures, and no man will have reason to regret who teaches himself to trust in their better qualities. I have hitherto, in a great measure, escaped their teeth, and being slow and infirm, my good fortune certainly cannot be attributed to my activity. Kindness and consideration work upon animals; nor do I believe there are many of the lower creatures that will not appreciate such appeals. It is better, therefore, to work upon the sympathetic nature of the brute, than to compete with it in strength, or endeavor to outvie it in agility. Manual dexterity will often fail, and is seldom employed save when danger is present. Mental supremacy appealing to the source of action ensures safety, by subduing, not the resistance, but the desire to resist.

    It is easy to ascertain when the dog has regained that tranquillity which would allow of its being trusted with security. The eye need alone be consulted, and a little observation will speedily instruct any one to read its meaning correctly. When the creature is irritated, the pupil invariably dilates, and by singly marking this circumstance, the temper of the beast may be correctly ascertained. Nor should caution be discarded until the contracted circle assures that the agitation has passed away.

    Mayhew, Edward, 1813?-1868: Dogs: their management. Being a new plan of treating the animal, based upon a consideraton of his natural temperament. By Edward Mayhew. (London, G. Routledge, 1854) (page images at HathiTrust)

    • In this exerpt from the book Mayhew specifically points out the difficulty in administering treatment to a dog on the dog's property and expecially when the owner is present. I can see this being a significant problem with many dogs and especially the ones that are closely bonded to their owners. Our dogs are never treated on their property and are taken off site to the vet's office. 

      Do you have any experience with this situation and can you tell how your dogs behaved or how you think they would behave?

      • Oh boy, no. Our two vets back home would never let us leave them unattended with one of our dogs. I train/handle high level guardians. I've also given classes at the University Animal teaching hospital on dog aggression. So generally when I go to the clinic, the vet techs stay out of the way & are told to observe & learn. They loved it when one of our tiny dogs came in because those they were comfortable with. Then they learned just how trained my crew was & we became their favorite clients & were their go to trainer for clients.

        Perhaps things were different back when that book was written but for those with guardians, it's part of the training not to allow anyone not living in the home to really handle the dogs. So the dogs are taken off property unless it's life/death emergency. I don't want my dogs to accept a stranger manipulating them on property. Their job there is priority. So for guardians, that's the training it's not about being spoiled or pampered.

        On the other hand when we had a dog go to university for an MRI they were astonished when my husband handed the leash to a technician & instructed him on everything he would need to do. "Hup" to get up on the exam table. "Plutz" to have her lay down. "Over" to get her onto her side. "Blieb" for stay. Then take the leg & put it how you want it & tell her "hold". So long as he had the leash in hand she would do whatever he told her. They video taped it to show people it could be done. Our dogs never had to be sedated for x-rays or MRIs. Highly trained guardians could be handed over to the staff & managed without anyone knowing they were guardians.

        Basically, I don't trust people too much with my dogs. I am always within hearing distance & likely have an eye on the proceedings or it's a no go as I had a dog abused by a vet, caught him in the act.

        •  This still hold true today - but most of us have been warned to not stare a guard dog in the eye.. lol

          When the creature is irritated, the pupil invariably dilates, and by singly marking this circumstance, the temper of the beast may be correctly ascertained.

          The article excerpt from the book was written in 1854 when things were a lot different.  Dogs were not largely judged on beauty and conformance to a certain look but rather on their behavior.  The were considered beasts with a purpose and so were valued for their utility be it guarding, retrieving, killing rats, hunting deer, wolves, or little furry critters in the underbrush. So if we look at the time frame this was written and the experience of the author up to that point from 1813-1854 was can see that as a time of difficulties and pioneering to west. Most farmed or raised livestock and basically lived off the land so it was paramount that their assets "wealth" be protected.

          When I read old articles like this I try to envision the time when it was written and the disposition and lifestyle of the people who wrote them.  Because I read a lot of history books and read novels of past time I do have a fairly good grasp of "those times" and the hardships faced. 

          Enough of my ranting now.. You have done fantastic work with your dogs and the situation at the vet that you described is admirable. That takes a lot of work, experience, and dedication to your dogs.  Unfortunately most dog owners today do not take the time to invest in training their dog the way you do.  Great job.  

          I am not sure what breed the dog that was handed off to the vet was - so here is the question to continue the discussion:  Do you think that any of the guardian breeds (e.g. Central Asian, Caucasian, Black Russian, South Russian, Great Pyrenees, Kangal, Sarplaninac) could be so trained as to be totally trusting of the vet's staff?

          • The dog who was handed off at the University was a Doberman. I was raised with Dobermans & terriers. My parents had a kennel. So that's what I went after when I had a home of my own. Sadly for me, we gained quite a reputation with my Dobers because aside from their amazing working prowess, they suffered genetic health problems & didn't live long.

            But as you said to continue the discussion, I probably would not even if the training was sound for safety precaution's sake. The mind of the Dobe & herding breeds works different than that of the livestock guardian. My working dogs accepted if I said someone was okay... they were okay unless they turned stupid. My Pyrs would accept the person was allowed in my presence but they would not tolerate a stranger petting them or trying to tell them what to do. By very design, they're not really supposed to be easy with strangers. If they were the rustlers would have the cows, the horses, the sheep & be gone. The last vet I went to who didn't know me was going to give a rabies shot to one of my 2 Great Pyrenees. I finally offered to give the injection myself & he relinquished provided I could explain to him what he was doing wrong. When I explained what the boys did on the farm & that it's their job not to befriend strangers, he finally understood. I thought I was going to have to walk out because Buddy wasn't going to let him put his hands on him.

            I have seen a couple of Kuvaz & Anatolian Shepherds who did well at the vets & in those situations but Bongo, one of the big male Anatolians wouldn't tolerate certain vet techs. If it was a different vet, forget it. I wish I had more experience with the other breeds you mentioned. I don't know what their capacity for learning & retention & reliability to the commands are. I've worked a couple of Black Russian Terriers & was told after I was the only stranger he'd ever seen his dogs warm up to. He handed me the lead half expecting me to get challenged. Then again, it's not uncommon for me.

            For me safety for both dog & human is top priority & if I feel there is any question of if the dog will toe the line for the vet or his/her staff. Nope. They just have to deal with me.

            • Several of our last Caucasians were fine at the vet. Actually in Virginia the got excited when they approached the veterinarian clinic. It could be that the vet and her staff actually loved and respected the dogs and were not afraid. The only one they were a bit weary of was Cleopatra.  So how did that happen.  When we moved to Virginia from Italy in 2000, we found a vet close by and there was a relatively young female veterinarian and her husband who ran the practice. I went and chatted with her prior to bringing our dogs there for care. We discussed the breed, their rusticity, behavior, and temperament.  What was impressive was that Dr. Mitchel actually went and research the breed and gathered better understanding of the dogs. 

              The first dog that we took there was Julius who was the youngest at the time and he was being trained for showing because my wife wanted to take him out to the rare breed shows. The entire staff fell in love with him and doted on him.  Next was Caesar - same thing happened - they loved him.  Then came Cleopatra and by her wolfish intensity she made a few of the staff nervous.  Good thing is that when I am around she was very well behaved and so The visit went well. She was always aloof with them but showed no aggression.

              So I said all that to say this - There was a time when treating dogs at a veterinarian's office was a challenge because the guardians, bullies, shepherds with jobs did not like strangers.  These days, however, dogs are expected to behave like toothless, no temperament bags of fur that generate money to maintain a practice. Very few vets will see a dog that has a strong attitude and don't like strangers poking and prodding them. As far as treating our dogs on property - that would really not work - so I agree with the premise of the article referenced in the opening post. 

              Bottom line is that we are responsible dog owners must get to know our animals and be able to control their behavior or contain their propensity for destruction. The dog is an independent animal wired to perform a function and there must be understanding that when stressed - the dog will revert to its inherent behavior and protect itself from real or perceived threats posed by others. The stimulus response behavior is very strong in most rustic breeds that still have jobs to perform. Owners must always be aware of the triggers the prompt their dogs to action.

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