Teaching a Dog to Accept a Blood Draw
Teach your dog how to remain steady, voluntarily, for a blood draw with the help of a great video by trainer Laura Monaco-Torelli.
Check out this video by the brilliant trainer Laura Monaco-Torelli, in which she teaches a dog named Santino to remain steady, voluntarily, for a blood draw.
Remember how in the recent “Sneak Up On It” trick episode, guest author Bob Ryder described using tricks to help his dog enjoy vet visits?
Here Laura does tricks with Santino, to refresh him and give him a fun break during the blood draw training.
Most Rhodesian Ridgebacks, like Santino, carry their tails low, so if you focus only on his tail, it may look as if Santino is subdued. That’s a good lesson in why we need to watch a dog’s whole body in order to read the dog accurately. Santino’s face is soft, he doesn’t roll his eyes, and his ears are in a neutral, relaxed position during the training. Also, notice how he’s never restrained except when his leg is held as part of the blood-draw procedure. He’s always free to bail out if the pressure gets to be too much for him. But the people working with him are careful to expand his comfort zone gradually and to give him plenty of breaks, so he never needs to escape or aggress.
Santino’s trainer, his guardian, and the vet could have chosen to muzzle Santino, hold him down, and draw blood like it or not. For sure, that would have been quicker – that day. But what would have happened next time Santino had to go to the vet, and the time after that? This dog weighs over 90 pounds; he could be seriously dangerous if he was scared.
Instead, Santino’s caretakers worked with him patiently, using lots and lots of rewards and making the experience fun for him. Watch him during the actual blood draw – his ears, especially. He’s a completely relaxed poster dog for the noncoercive, reward-based approach to training.
Check out more tips for taking care of your dog in The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet.