Today was the day for West Nile Virus vaccinations> After some reading, I decided to go ahead with the vaccine (many equine owners worry about the pros and cons of giving this) because the virus is in the are and the disease is awful and nearly always fatal.
Of my three donkeys, Dorica is the one who is afraid of needles. Although she's pretty easy to handle, she'll try to scoot away and tense her neck so that it's hard to get the needle through the thick layer of muscle.
This means that she will usually have a nasty welt and a hot spot around the injection site.
So about a month ago, I began to work with her to desensitize her for the procedure. Here's what I did:
Step 1: begin by tapping the side of her neck, click & treat when she is standing still
Step 2: squeeze/ pinch her hck lightly, click & treat for stading still
Step 3: IF and only IF and when she is okay with this, apply more pressure, either by pinching a bit harder or graduate to the point of a ball point pen or blunt nail. Keep her on a high rate of reinforcement for standing still.
Step 4: I tried using the tip of a bamboo skewer to simulate a needle - never hurt or break the skin though!
Today all that preparation worked and she stood for the shot like the stoic angel that she is! I could have added one more thing though and that would have been to ask the vet to do a few pinches, clicking and treating before she gave the shot. Sometimes, everything you (the owner) does can fall apart when a new person tries (especially one who smells like a vet!)
I was very pleased it went so well and she has had no reaction, swelling or hot spots this time. Siog and Deenah had their shots without incident.