Restraining a Dog
This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
More is NOT better
Variations on these instructions exist.
Work with the dog in the position that (s)he finds most comfortable yet
provides you adequate exposure to do what you need to do. The LEAST amount
of restraint that is needed should be applied. Excessive restraint becomes a
test of wills and you will find dogs to be stubborn and not give up. The
more you attempt to restrain them, the harder they resist and the less
pleasant and more dangerous the experience becomes for all.
"Talk to the animals" Many dogs can be comforted by being talked to in
a quiet, soothing voice. What you say is not important...the tone of
voice is. Even the best behaved dog may bite if frightened. Early
application of a muzzle actually reduces the need for additional
restraint. Once the muzzle is in place the dog will often "give up" and
stop struggling. Several types of muzzles can be used. The end of the
muzzle can be closed (basket-style muzzles ) (A,C) or open-ended (B).
All the muzzles have a strap that buckles behind the ears, on the top
of the head.
|They can be made of plastic...
or leather or cloth.
The closed ended basket muzzles allow the animal to open their
mouth to pant.
||Always use a basket-style muzzle
on a dog with a short face such as Boston Terriers or Bulldogs
so you do not interfere with their breathing.
This open-ended style of muzzle should fit snuggly. The dog
should be able to stick its tongue out but should not be able to
open the mouth any wider.
||If a muzzle is not available a
length of roll gauze or ribbon can be used to create a muzzle.
The gauze should NOT be stretchy. As the gauze is not very
strong it should be doubled to increase strength.
The length must be adequate to wrap around the muzzle at least
twice, then tie behind the ears.
A large loop is made in the center of the length of
gauze. The loop should be about 3 times the
diameter of the dog's muzzle.
The loop is placed around the muzzle and pulled tight on the top
of the nose. A single knot is tied.
The ends of the gauze are then tied under the jaw with a single
||The long ends of the gauze are
brought behind the ears and tied in either a square knot or a
easy release bow. I prefer to tie a square knot and have a
scissors handy in case the muzzle needs to be quickly removed.
If the animal has a short face this style of muzzle easily slips
off. To reduce slippage, after tying the square knot behind the
ears, bring the long ends of the gauze forward and loop the ends
under the loop of gauze which is around the muzzle, then pull
the ends back over the forehead and under the gauze a behind the
ears, then tie another square knot.
You can also use a
from a paper cup in dogs with short faces.
There are several ways a second person can hold a dog to allow you to
concentrate on a specific task such as trimming nails or giving medications.
The holder should only apply light pressure at all restraint points. If
the dog struggles, the holder applies greater pressure for additional
control. As soon as the animal stops struggling, reduce the amount of
pressure applied. Most animals quickly "learn" to lie still if you
"reward" them with minimal restraint.
||To keep a dog lying on its belly (sternal
recumbency), drape your arm and upper body over the dog's
shoulders. Use the opposite hand to hold the body part that is
being treated. In the position pictured, a second person could
apply eye or ear medications.
Stand on the opposite side from the body part being treated.
If the right eye is being medicated, the holder should stand on
the left side of the dog.
||If the feet are being worked with,
e.g. front toenails being trimmed, the muzzle should be held by
the holder and should be turned away from the face of the person
performing the toenail trim. The holder is using her right hand
to keep the dog's right front foot still for nail trimming.
If the dog tries to stand, use your upper body to keep the
dog laying on the table.
||If the dog raises his/her rear
end, the holder should position herself over the center of the
dog with one arm draped over the dogs hips and the other arm
over the dogs shoulders.
The holder can use her upper body to keep the dog's middle on
The holder can use her right hand to hold the rear paw still
or her left hand to keep the front paw still for nail trimming.
||Placing the dog on its side
usually allows the holder to keep the dog more still compared to
a dog lying on its belly.
The holder reaches over the dog and holds the front leg
closest to the table, gripping the leg close to the elbow, NOT
close to the paw. The other arm is draped over the belly and
holds the rear leg which is closest to the table, gripping the
leg close to the body, NOT close to the paw.
If the legs are held close to the paws, the dog has more leverage to
roll themselves back onto their belly than if the legs are held at points
closer to the body.
||If the dog tries to lift its head
and neck the holder places her elbow over the neck and gently
pushes the head to the table.
||Large dogs can be restrained in a
sitting position on the floor. The holder should stand with her
back against a wall to prevent the dog from scooting backwards
across the floor.
The holder can press the dog's sides between her knees to
keep the dog from moving side to side or from standing up.
The holder restrains the dog's head away from the person
doing the procedure and stabilizes the head for procedures such
as placement of ear and eye medications.
A sitting position can also be used for trimming toenails.
When the holder bends over the dog's head to hold the paw,
she pulls the dog's head to one side to avoid the possibility of
getting bitten in the stomach.
||Another technique used to restrain
large dogs is for the holder to straddle the dog with one knee
on either side of the dog, with the dog laying on the floor.
If the dog tries to stand up, the holder lightly sits on the
dog's back. The holder can control how much weight to place over
the dog's back by shifting her weight to and from her knees.
As soon as the dog stops trying to stand, the holder shifts
all her weight back to her knees.
In this position, some procedures can be performed by one
person. In this picture the holder is leaning over the dog and
trimming the front nails.
In this position you do not have control over the dog's head
and do risk getting bitten. You may combine this holding
technique with the application of a muzzle.
Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your
pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.
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