Behaviour 2019
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Treatment of Fear-Related Aggression in a Dog During Veterinary Visits: A Case Study
Melanie R. Cerone. Canine Behavior Consulting, Newtown Square, PA, United States

An 18-month-old neutered male Rottweiler with significant fear-related aggression during veterinary visits was referred for training by the medical director of a large veterinary clinic. The dog had been discharged from two prior veterinary clinics for serious aggression and was unable to receive routine care despite muzzling, sedation, and restraint. 

Six systematic operant and classical conditioning training plans were used to modify the dog’s emotional response and behavior during veterinary care. Following training, the dog was a calm, cooperative participant in his medical care. He received a physical examination, vaccinations, treatment for an ear infection, and blood draw without sedation or restraint. Fear and stress for the dog, as well as the risk of injury to veterinary staff, were significantly reduced as a result of treatment. 
 
This case illustrates the efficacy of utilizing well-designed, systematic operant and classical conditioning procedures to modify aggression during veterinary visits. Reducing fear and aggression results in improved access to veterinary care, a lower risk of injury to the dog and caregiving staff, and greater staff and client satisfaction.