My dog was in a foster home with his brother and foster brother at around 3 weeks of age. He was nipped by his brother and then bitten by his foster brother in the exact same spot on his neck around 3 months of age, so he has always been sensitive to touching that area, but not aggressive, just became noticeably cautious if you would pet that area of his neck.
3 years later, after having a benign cyst removed from his ear, the vet tech ripped his bandages off in a very quick and seemingly painful way because our dog snapped and growled. The ear was not yet healed, so we had to re-bandage the area, which caused more growling and snapping. Since that day, he now responds with growling if we are near his neck area to check his ears or check him for ticks. If we stay in that area too long, he snaps at us.
Additionally, since the vet tech incident, if he finds himself in a painful or upsetting situation such as recently when he pulled a leg muscle, he snapped and growled at my husband when he felt the pain while stretching near my husband. It was as though he associated his pain with my husband, even though he pulled the muscle while running in the backyard.
My question is: is there training that can help us with this situation? I feel like it’s difficult to fix a situation you can’t anticipate, i.e. I just know that sometimes if we touch his neck the “wrong” way, he growls, and if we have to keep touching the area, like when cleaning the ears he can snap and growl.
As another example of this, he used to have a toy that was a circle shape with a hole in the middle. He flipped the toy over his head, so it ended up around his neck. My husband went to take the toy off of his head, and he snapped at him. So, he spent 15 minutes playing with a toy, then it went over his head, and it turned into a stressful terrible incident for him.
My concern going forward is that the odds of nothing painful ever happening to the dog are slim. I’m wondering if there are training techniques that would help this situation?