Case File

Positive Behaviour for your Pets

by Mischa BTEC ND Level 2, Veterinary Care Assistant

Co-operative care is a concept used within dog behaviour training. It reinforces positive behaviour rather than telling an animal off for something they may not understand. Teaching your pet co-operative care can be really beneficial in the veterinary practice environment.



I use this technique with my own dogs. Zero is my 14-month-old Belgian Malinois dog and I wanted to compete with him as a protection sports dog. Therefore, by nature, he can be a bit excitable if not handled correctly. However, having worked in the veterinary profession for a few years now and helping many nervous dogs gain their confidence in our work environment, I wanted to ensure Zero was able to handle examinations and procedures with as little stress as possible.  It was likely he would struggle in these circumstances without help.

From a young age, I have worked on co-operative care, where I will ask him to perform a task such as a sustained nose touch whilst his vet examination is being carried out. This allows him to focus on getting his reward, as opposed to being hyperaware of what else is going on. We make sure to give him plenty of rewards and breaks. He is not expected to hold the nose touch for the whole appointment and it also allows him to tell us clearly whether he feels uncomfortable about something where we can then break, and re-set if needs be or re-assess why he feels uncomfortable and whether its pain related.


We also do lots of handling skills at home, where I will practice restraining him for certain procedures such as placing an IV catheter. Zero has also been muzzle trained. There is a high chance if Zero was in pain he would go to bite, much more so than the average dog. We have trained him to enjoy wearing a muzzle so that it is not a huge added stress should we ever be in a position where he needs to wear it. A lot of the time wearing a muzzle for the first time can be one of the most stressful experiences of being at the Vets. Therefore, if you are aware your dog may need to wear a muzzle when with us, please speak to one of us about how to train your dog to love their muzzle. It will make a huge difference to their visits with us.


There are lots of different things you can do at home to make your pets visit to us a lot less stressful. If you have any concerns with your pet’s behaviour and would like advice on how to make their visits easier please get in touch.