Husbandry – eye drops

This Little Doggy gets sore, dry eyes. She’s had a bit of conjunctivitis of late and, boy, does she hate drops in her eyes. Sadly, it seems she’s needed drops of one sort or another for forever now, and it’s really tough to get them in by myself. She quickly became very head-shy and was scared by the sight of the bottle. I got by at first with a tube of Primula and distracting her, but she got smart to it pretty quickly. So, I started a programme of training her to look up calmly for the drops, alongside the Primula method for actually getting them in.

Now, I have to administer drops three times a day – two lots of saline, and one lot of medicated drops – so we’re getting a lot of practice with the clicker training! She’s doing pretty well, although she’s still somewhat suspicious of the bottles, but giving her some level of control seems to be helping her to accept the process. Today, for the first time, I got all her drops in without any distraction. Yes, it took a long time and I’m doing at least 50 “fakes” of the drop for every one I put in, but it’s still an achievement to celebrate!

With lots more practice, one day I’ll have a dog that lifts her head for drops without a flicker whilst someone says “my dog hates drops and would never do that!”.

In this video, I’m just clicking and rewarding for her looking up, and slowly building duration to a couple of seconds. She sometimes finds it easier to focus on my hand over her head, so I use that a couple of times, and in this video I don’t actually administer a drop – she laid down shortly after this and the GoPro didn’t capture the bottle in the frame, but you get the idea. Once I’ve given the drop, we still continue with more fakes so that the session doesn’t end on something unpleasant for her.

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