By: Melissa Kolmar, CPDT-KA
Do you and your dog dread going to the vet? There is no need for it to be a stressful place for either of you! Here are some tips to help your dog have a successful visit at the vet office. If you are dealing with a dog who is extremely fearful, reactive or aggressive, please contact us for a private session.
Happy Visits to the Vet
Take along some great treats, like steak or hot dogs. Ask the receptionist, vet tech, and/or veterinarian to give your dog a few treats. If you have a puppy, start your “social” vet visits as early as possible. Happy social visits can dramatically reduce an adult dog’s stress level too.
Touch your Dog Everywhere, Every Day!
When you spend quiet time with your dog, stroke and pet him all over. Play with your dog’s ears, muzzle, belly, legs and around his tail. Massage his shoulders and hips.
Play with your Dog’s Mouth
Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to help him get used to having his mouth handled. Always use canine toothpaste; people toothpaste isn’t safe for dogs. You can also open your dog’s mouth, look in, and immediately give him a treat. Your dog will learn that opening his mouth means treats are coming.
Normalize Being Leaned Over, Held Onto and Picked Up
Bending over your dog from various positions can help him learn to accept this behavior from humans. In addition, you can help your dog tolerate being held through everyday behaviors. If you are not sure how to lift your dog properly, ask your vet, groomer, or trainer to show you how to safely pick up your dog.
Teach your Dog to Sit, Stand and Lie Down
Basic training can help lower your dog’s stress at the veterinary clinic. Your dog will be a whole lot more relaxed if you can ask him to move his own body, rather than having to push, pull, or cajole your dog into position.
Familiarize your Dog with a Muzzle
Getting your dog used to wearing a muzzle doesn’t mean your dog is bad, or that he will necessarily bite. For some dogs, using a muzzle is a good way to ensure safety if the vet needs to examine a sensitive place.
Use Treats and Toys!
When you take your dog to the vet for a regular exam or for treatment, be sure to bring along treats or toys to reinforce your dog’s good behavior.
Be generous with your rewards!