If a dog has had a recent surgery, struggling over a pill can be dangerous! Learn tips to give a pill to a dog who struggles when he receives pet medication. (Mitchell Powell Photo)
On occasion, you’ll encounter a dog will simply refuse to take a pill, regardless of the method used to give the pet medication. For these cases when the pet owner will need to give a pill to an unwilling dog, there are a few tricks to avoid a struggle when giving pet medication.
Calming the Dog Before and After Giving Pet Medication
One trick involves calming the dog before trying to dose him. It’s much more difficult to give a pill to a dog who is already tuned up and anticipating a negative experience. So make medicine time it a good experience. Cuddle with the dog, pet him, brush him (if he enjoys brushing!) and offer pet treats.
This is especially important for dogs who receive pet medication on a daily basis for an extended period of time. Even if the dog hates the act of taking a pill, It’s important that the dog associates the pill with a positive experience of cuddles and treats. The positive experience of attention and dog treats will help neutralize the negative experience of getting a pill.
For this reason, I also recommend spending time with the dog after he’s received his medication. Offer dog treats, praise, cuddles and attention. Reward him for taking his pill (even if it wasn’t exactly voluntary.)
Where to Sit When Giving a Pill to a Dog
Location, location, location! If a dog struggles when you try to give a pill, it’s important to find a location that will minimize that struggle (thereby minimizing the amount of time spent wrangling the dog).
I recommend sitting the dog in the corner of the couch or arm chair. The back and arm of the couch will prevent the dog from wriggling away as the owner attempts to give a pill. The couch also limits movement – this is key if the dog has recently undergone a surgery or suffered a recent injury.
The couch is also an ideal place to calm the dog (so you won’t need to move him once he’s calm and ready for his medicine!) and it’s a place where you’re apt to spend lots of time anyways, so the dog will have other pleasant associations with the sofa.
Giving a pill to a dog can be stressful for the dog and the owner. But fortunately, pet owners can neutralize the experience by making it as pleasant as possible. Even if the actual act of getting a pill is an unpleasant experience for the dog, owners can lessen the resistance by sandwiching the negative experience between two positive experiences involving cuddles, praise and dog treats.
More Help for Giving Pet Medication to a Dog
If your dog bites and nips when you attempt to give a pill, read How to Give a Pill to a Dog Who Bites.
Dog owners may also want to learn additional tricks to give pet medication to a dog, along with information about tools for giving a pill to a dog like a pet pill gun (also called a pill shooter) or Greenies Pill Pockets for dogs.