Ok, I sort of hate even asking this.
Jack was to the vet today. My boy is absolutely fabulous, a bomb-proof dog who is afraid of very little and bothered by nothing. He's a therapy dog who happily trots through big groups of wheelchairs. He is fantastic with strange dogs, wonderful with noisy, awkward toddlers, calm in a crowd. When we go to the vet, he lays down calmly in the waiting room, nearly pulls me through the door when it's time to go back and see the nice people in the exam rooms, and happily greets the vet when he enters the room.
And then he goes up on the table. Ah, bless his furry heart, he's terrified. Maddie (who was not raised by me) is calm as calm can be on the table. She lays down. She relaxes. But Jack? He gets increasingly panicky. The vet is very good and even managed to scrape his teeth, but by the time we're done Jack is shaking, heart racing, eyes wide, trying to scramble backwards off the table.
He's always been this way. It's not for lack of trying. I can brush him easily, but I put him on a sit-stay and don't hold him while I do so. I can brush his teeth and clean his ears no problem, but again I'm not holding him steady to do so. He grumbles when I towel his belly. He will not let me turn him onto his back, no matter how gentle I am. He does not much care for laps. And despite all the peanut butter and patience (and Dremmel nail-grinders) in the world, I cannot do his nails.
Which brings me to the tranquilizer question. The vet was examining him thoroughly because he was limping (Jack was there for an annual, not because of the limp, but by sheer coincidence I came home early from work to take him to the vet and found a lame dog). I commented to the vet that I can't do his nails. Luckily he walks on pavement a lot and they stay short-ish, but if I ever had to do them I'd be in trouble.
The vet suggested that if I ever need to do that sort of work on him, I can give him a mild tranquilizer. The vet did not say "You need to work with him more" or "he's being disobedient." He said (and this made me feel tremendous relief, because I've always thought of this as a training failure on my part) "He's claustrophobic. A lot of dogs are."
Ahhhh, now it all makes sense. Trust me, I know the difference between Jack throwing a stubborn fit (which he is perfectly capable of) and Jack panicking, and when forcibly confined, he panics. Yes, I realize this could have serious consequences if he's ever injured, but nothing I've done training-wise has helped.
Which brings me back to the drugs. Has anyone here used a mild tranquilizer to work on a dog? He gave me a few tablets of acepromazine, 10mg (which is about the lowest dose for my 34-pound dog).
The funny thing is, I thought nothing of asking for a valium when I needed an MRI, because I know that I am a bit claustrophobic. But I feel really a bit weird about giving one to my dog to, say, do his nails. Everything you read says this is a training issue, yet I don't really think it is in this case.