How do I give my rat terrier insulin by myself? He thinks he’s a pitbull. He gets aggressive when you try to do something he doesn’t like. Any advice? I really need help.
I strongly suggest setting up a routine that consists of:
- A place where you inject the insulin every day. Choose any place your dog feels calm and comfortable (like a blanket) and where you have enough space above and around your dog (not in a crate).
- Make your dog calm down. Depending on his temperament, you might have him lay down or at least sit. The emphasis is on calm down. This is not simple obedience training where you test whether your dog understood that "sit" means "put your bum on the ground". Please have a look at this youtube video to understand what I mean.
- The actual injection. If you are unsure how and where to inject the insulin, please ask your vet.
- A very yummy and special treat your dog only ever gets after the insulin injection. This could be a piece of cheese or hotdog wiener or anything he really likes to eat. He will get this treat every time after the injection, no matter how badly he behaved, and never anytime else.
This is supposed to give your dog a routine he can expect every day. He learns that you follow these steps every day in the same order, which gives him a certainty as to what to expect.
The calming down is supposed to - well, calm him down. He should learn that he cannot avoid the injection by erratic behavior or by fighting back. It also (hopefully) calms you down, which makes the experience much more tolerable for your dog. If you are nervous before an injection or your dog is wriggling around too much, it helps to take the time to take a deep breath. You can also pet your dog for a few minutes if it helps him calm down. It's not important to inject the insulin each day at the same minute, it's more important to make your dog accept the injection.
The special treat is there to connect the stimulus of the insulin injection with a positive outcome. This is classical conditioning and works just like clicker training. A stimulus that doesn't mean anything to the dog - the sound of the clicker or the sight of the insulin injector - is connected to a positive outcome - a very tasty treat. The positive feeling connected with the treat is then connected to the initial stimulus (the insulin injector) as well. That's why it's important to treat your dog after every single injection: the treat is not connected to his good behavior, but to the injection itself. Every time there is an injection, there follows a treat.
Important note: the faster you feed him the treat after the injection, the faster he learns to associate the injection with the treat. Have the treat in arms reach before you inject him - but somewhere where he cannot snatch it from you.
If your dog has the tendency to nip or bite, you might want to use a muzzle the first few days until he associates the injection with something positive. You can feed him the treat with the muzzle still on.