Take the Stress Out of Your Dog's Vet Visits
PetSmart Debbie McKnight/Accredited PetSmart Trainer
If there’s one place most dogs don’t enjoy visiting, it’s the vet’s office. Some get so stressed, they pant excessively, cry, even tremble - and that’s while they’re still in the waiting room! If vet visits stress your dog out, here are ways you can make the trip more relaxing and even enjoyable:
Make a visit to the vet’s office seem “normal” by taking your dog to the vet’s office when he doesn’t need to go. Most vet practices are more than willing to work with you to help your dog feel comfortable there. Any time you get a chance, take a ride up to the veterinarian’s office and bring some fabulous treats like boiled chicken, string cheese, freeze dried liver or her most favorite smelly treat. When you arrive, take her into the outer waiting room, reward her with treats and leave. If you have talked to your vet’s office ahead of time, you can plan to go when they have a chance to greet your dog and reward her with treats. Ask if you can take your dog into an open exam room, reward her with treats and leave. Make sure to clear all of this with your vet and the staff and always be respectful of their time and needs.
Acquaint your dog with the procedures that might happen at the vet. First, make sure your dog is comfortable being handled from her head to her paws. If she’s not, consult your trainer for help. Then ask your vet to show you the ways they handle dogs during routine examinations including ear, teeth, limb and joint exams and temperature readings. Practice these methods at home to help your dog get more familiar with them. Be sure to reward her with a steady stream of yummy treats to form positive associations. You might also want to acclimate your dog to wearing a muzzle just in case one is necessary. Practice putting the muzzle on and then reward him by letting her lick something yummy like peanut butter off your fingers. You don’t even have to fasten it in the beginning, just have her wear it for a couple of seconds and then remove it. Work up to having her wear it for just a couple of minutes and then remove it.
Remember: never hit, spank or smack your dog. Your dog should trust human hands and be calm whenever hands are reaching for him.
Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart trainer in Hurst, Texas.
For information on PetSmart's Accredited Training, please visit PetSmart's training web site.