Dog Handling Tips To Keep You And An Injured Dog Safe During Treatment


You'll need to know and use dog handling techniques if you ever have to deal with a dog that's injured, frightened or in pain. A suffering or scared dog is a potentially dangerous dog.

He may not intend to hurt himself further, or to bite or scratch you or a helper. He may, however, do either, or both, if you do not use at least one of these dog handling techniques during treatment.

He may escape and bolt into a crowd or traffic. He may struggle to get away, scratching you or knocking you over in the process. Or he may sink his teeth into your hand.

Dog handling methods include those that restrain your dog from moving or running away, and muzzling him so that he can't bite.

Restraining Your Dog Before Treatment

Does your dog dislike having his nails clipped?

Does he squirm when you try to clean his ears?

He might be the same way, but worse, when you try to get a close look at or treat a wound.

The first three of the following dog handling techniques will make it easier for you to deal with him. The other dog handling techniques will keep him still and safe while you help him, but they require an assistant for them to be effective.

  • If your dog is small or medium-size, place him on a counter or waist-high table. Do so only if you know he won't jump off the table, and only if you or your helper can keep him still while you work on him. Consider combining this technique with the next one.

  • Put your dog's "going for a walk" collar and leash on him. Most dogs are trained to the collar and leash, and usually are more cooperative when someone is holding the leash. The collar also provides an easy hold on your dog instead of having to wrap your arm around his neck or chest.
  • If you're working on your own, you may have to back him into the corner of a small room after you close the door. Try the bathroom or laundry room for this technique.

  • The "hug hold" requires that an assistant, someone familiar with dogs, or at least familiar with your dog, hold him.

    Have your friend get on her knees to one side of your dog, facing forward. Have her wrap her outside arm under his neck, and wrap her inside arm over his back, then down and under his chest.

    The forward arm keeps your dog from moving forward or backing away, while the arm over the back keeps him from moving both sideways and up.


  • The "down hold" also requires an assistant. Have her get on her knees next to and facing your dog. She then reaches over his back and grab the front and back legs on her side of his body.

    She gently pulls the two legs away from her body, while you support your dog's head and neck. As the legs are pulled away, his body will slowly tip over and slide down your assistant's thighs, until he is lying on his side on the floor.

    She keeps him in this position with one forearm placed over his neck, which keeps his head from moving, and the other forearm placed across his flank, which keeps his hind end down. While doing this, she continues to pull on the lower legs, keeping them on the floor.

These five dog handling techniques are effective in helping you keep your dog safe and still during treatment. Now we'll look at keeping you safe.

Muzzling Your Dog

That loving and devoted dog can quickly become a snarling biting machine if he's injured and in pain.

You'll need to muzzle him as quickly as you can before he has the chance to bite you, other people or other dogs.

A muzzle will protect you from strong jaws and sharp teeth. However, if left on for more than ten minutes at a time, it could harm your dog.

With his mouth tied shut, he won't be able to pant. This can result in breathing troubles or overheating.

Work as quickly and as effectively as you can when providing first aid treatment to him.

If you can't complete everything in ten or eleven minutes, give him a cooling down period by relaxing the muzzle for a few minutes.

Don't try to treat anything while the muzzle is off. Sit calmly and speak to him in a quiet, soothing tone.

After a few minutes, muzzle him again and continue working.

A purchased muzzle won't work properly if it does not fit snugly around his snout and then wrap around behind his ears to be tightened.

If it's loose enough to slide back toward the eyes, it won't limit him from opening his mouth enough to bite you or anyone else nearby.

If you don't have a purchased muzzle, use a two to three foot (.6 to one metre) length of strong and soft material.

A scarf or a length of gauze should do, or a leg from a pair of pantyhose (add this material to your dog first aid supplies so it's always handy). Follow these steps to make an emergency muzzle.

  1. Make a large loop (a half knot) in the center of the length of material.

  2. Stand behind your dog, then quickly slip the loop over his snout and tighten it before he can shake or paw it off. The half-knot should be on the top of his snout.

  3. Bring the two ends down, keeping the loop tight against the snout. Cross the ends under the snout and bring them back behind his head.

  4. Using a bow (not a knot, so you can quickly remove it), tie the ends snugly below and behind his ears.


These emergency dog handling techniques are easy to use, but the time to learn them is not during a crisis.

Practice them before you need them. Practice alone and with a helper. Make these dog handling techniques part of an annual training period, perhaps when you rehearse your evacuation if you live in a disaster-prone area, or on your dog's birthday.

This practice will make you more proficient, and it will desensitize your dog to these methods, making him a little less frightened when you need to use these emergency dog handling techniques.


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