The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Training at the Animal Hospital

As part of Bo's ongoing training, we will begin weekly visits to our local animal hospital. The purpose of this training is to desensitize him to the stress associated with a veterinarian visit. The training will start with one visit a week that consists of me bringing him into an exam room, a hospital staff member greeting him with me, and then the staff taking him to another room. He will be given high value treats like chicken, hot dogs or cheese while he experiences the sights, sounds and smells of the procedure area. He will then be walked back to the exam room where I will be waiting for him. He will get lots of praise and treats upon his return. 

Once Bo is demonstrating a comfort level with this weekly routine, the staff will perform the routine with the addition of a stressor that represents a scenario he might experience if he was being treated for a medical condition. For example, they may weigh him, open his mouth, touch his ears, hold his paws or take his temperature. Again, he will receive high value treats throughout the experience and immediately following the experience. 

This training is especially important as Bo ages and no longer has the need to visit the hospital as regularly as he did in his first year. (His vaccine schedule is now yearly.) We want to 'vaccinate' him from developing a fear of the hospital experience, which can occur when an animal associates the stress of medical procedures with a hospital visit. 

We want Bo to be comfortable going to the animal hospital. Weekly visits that turn into monthly visits, should help in building and maintaining his comfort in such an environment. We are very fortunate to have a local animal hospital staff that is supportive of this training and eager to assist us.

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