For the cooperative dog, routine procedures such as grooming, bathing, and even medicating seldom require restraint. Gentle handling and a soothing voice will coax most dogs to accept such handling. Approach the task with quiet confidence. Dogs are quick to sense anxiety in their owners and copy it. For examinations and treatments that may excite or hurt the dog, it is important to restrain the dog before attempting the treatment. Once a dog is restrained, he usually settles down and accepts the procedure with little complaint.
A cage muzzle should be used if the dog is vomiting or breathing rapidly. A cloth muzzle is convenient and can be slipped on easily. A strip of adhesive tape makes an expedient temporary muzzle.
The headlock is an excellent restraint for a large dog. First muzzle the dog. Then hold the dog securely against your chest with one arm around his neck and the other around his waist. This is the most commonly used restraint for a quick procedure such as giving an injection. To restrain a small dog, support the abdomen with one arm and grasp the outside front leg. Immobilize the head with the other arm. Hold the dog close to your body.
An Elizabethan collar, named for the high neck ruff popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, is also an excellent way of restraining dogs who are prone to bite. The collar is also used to keep a dog from scratching at his ears, removing sutures, and biting at wounds and skin sores. These collars can be purchased from pet supply stores and some veterinarians (your veterinarian may also be able to lend you one). The size of the collar must be tailored to the dog. For the dog to be able to eat and drink, the outer edge of the collar should not extend more than one to two inches beyond the dog’s nose. Most dogs adjust well to an Elizabethan collar. If the dog refuses to eat or drink with the collar on, temporarily remove it.
A newer option is the Bite-Not collar. This high-necked collar prevents a dog from turning his head to bite. As with an Elizabethan collar, good fit is important. The collar must be just as long as the dog’s neck. Another way to restrain the dog is to lay him on his side by grasping the inside front and back legs and then sliding the dog down your knees to the floor. Hold his legs out straight and keep pressure with your forearms on his chest and pelvis to prevent him from getting up.