Why does my dog hide when it’s time to administer medications?

It does not take long for a dog to learn the difference between a positive and a negative experience. Whether it is going on a walk, taking a ride, playing fetch, or going to the vet, being forced to take a bath or take medication, dogs remember which experiences were fun and enjoyable and which caused fear, anxiety, or distrust. While we know that we have to give our pets medications when they are ill or have conditions that warrant it, at times, the medication we have to give is not enjoyable, and may cause our dogs to avoid us during that time.

Administering oral medications should not cause any pain or physical distress to our dogs. However, the taste of these medications may be offensive and dogs, like humans, do not like to consume substances that taste bad.

If your dog has started to hide from you during “pill time”, it may be because they dislike the taste of the medication. In this case, it is best to start with a treat to coax the dog out of its hiding place and reestablish trust between the two of you. Giving a treat with no strings attached will hopefully replace the anxiety the dog feels with excitement for a food reward.

Once the dog is no longer fearful, carefully hide the medication that needs to be administered inside the treat. It’s important not to allow the dog to see you do this so they are not inclined to investigate the treat. Once the medication is hidden, reward the dog for staying near you with the medicine laced treat. Make sure the dog swallows it whole, and does not investigate it.

Dogs, just like children, are capable of associating certain times of the day with pleasant or unpleasant experiences. By making the administration of medication enjoyable, you can avoid the unpleasantness of forcing your pet to consume medication. Instead, make it a fun experience to encourage trust and bonding between you and pet.

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