Back in November when I started rehab for my shoulder with my current physiotherapist. She asked me about giving eye drops to a dog who ran away when the bottle was presented. Her young dog had repeated eye infections and it was stressing the dog and her people out giving her the eye drops. I decided to do a video tutorial blog on it and last night after 3 months I managed to get the final piece of video! I taught this over about three months with a total of 40 minutes training (slow and steady wins the race).
For this I recommend using a cheap bottle of people eye drops for practicing as you will waste a lot. Always make sure your dog is ‘comfortable’ with each step before moving on (comfortable looks like relaxed ears and tail and no avoidance behaviours such as moving away). For dogs with an unpleasant history with certain items such as dropper bottles you may need to work very slowly on each step.
If your dog doesn’t have a negative history with the drops then you can skip steps 1 and 2. I’ve included videos for steps 4 to 9, apologies for the sound on steps 4 to 7, it was a dehumidifier in the room!
Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions 😊
Step 1: Open associated cupboard door – mark and reinforce.
NB. if you need to go back further then start with click and reinforce when you enter the room with the cupboard and work your way towards opening the cupboard;
Step 2: Open cupboard, take out bottle – mark and reinforce for not running away – if they do run away work more on opening cupboard only, then reaching inside without removing bottle and progress to taking out the bottle;
Step 3: Do other training stuff (fun!) or play/ enrichment toys when the bottle is just hanging around – you can leave the lid off so that your dog also gets used to the smell and good stuff happening;
Step 4: Mark and reinforce when you pick the bottle up and move it around. You’re looking for your dog to not move away. Throw the treat so your dog has the choice to return;
Step 5: Slowly decrease distance between bottle and the dog and mark and reinforce them for not moving away. In the video you can see Sweep is very confident around the bottle so I start to present it around his head and mark and reinforce for him not moving away. If your dog is less confident you could mark and reinforce for interest in the bottle etc, and any approach of the bottle by your dog deserves a mark and reinforce;
Step 6: Do a session where you mix up presenting the bottle by the dog’s head and removing it (mark and reinforce) with other behaviours (best keep the lid on for this one so that drops don’t leak out when you’re not ready!);
Step 7: Drop liquid from bottle onto paws, neck etc. Avoid dropping on face for now, we’re just trying to get the dog used to the feeling of the drops;
Step 8: Present bottle by dog’s head and work on moving it around their head without them moving away, keep the lid on for this. Once they are happy and relaxed (not moving away from the bottle) with the bottle around their head (this may take a while and don’t be afraid to drop back to step 6) drop liquid on top of head and around eyes but not in eyes. Make sure you mark and reinforce for every drop when they don’t move away;
Step 9: You and your dog should be ready to actually drop the drops in their eyes. Remember if you have a successful drop in the eye stay calm (even though you may be jumping up and down inside!) and do a couple of replicates where you just show the bottle near your dogs head, and then drop liquid on their paws, then end the session and celebrate with your dog!
Thank you for reading/watching! Happy training!
I currently live in Weymouth, Dorset (originally from Beverley in East Yorkshire). I am a certified dog trainer, graduating from the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional course in October 2016. I have owned dogs since 2001 when I got my first rescue dog Jack, a mutt extraordinaire. When I lost him I spent two years fostering dogs for a local charity and as a result I gained Odie and Sweep. Odie is the reason I became interested in training and behaviour. He demonstrates "aggressive" behaviours towards other dogs. I chose clicker training because I saw how much confidence it gives both my boys and I train mostly as a hobby with my own dogs and cats and spend my spare time with them and continuing my training and behaviour education with webinars and seminars. My passion as a trainer is in force free husbandry. If we can teach dangerous exotic animals to accept blood draws voluntarily then we have no excuse in not teaching it to our animals. I work full time as a marine biologist (to fund my dog habit!), a job I have done for 20 years. It has taught me to avoid the use of jargon while not dumbing down content, a skill I hope will help me produce a helpful blog!