We all love our dogs like family, so when it comes time for the dreaded, yet necessary, vet visit it can be a bit intimidating for both you and your pup. Here are a few tips to help have a better experience during those all important check ups.
Find the Right Veterinarian
While finding the right veterinarian might seem like a no-brainer, remember that you should also take your dog’s opinion into consideration. This process can take a while, but believe me it's worth it!
Pay attention to the staff as well as the vet. Do they love interacting with your pup? Are they friendly and cheerful to both pets and people? Do they truly try to get to know your dog and make her as comfortable as possible? If the answer is no to some of these crucial yet simple questions then you might want to look for a different vet.
Get Your Dog Used to Being Handled at Home
Whether you have a new puppy or anxious adult dog it is always a good idea to get them used to being handled in a similar fashion to the experience during a vet visit. Casually and regularly take a look at their ears, teeth, eyes, and paws. If you find that your pup doesn’t like a certain aspect of the handling make sure to grab a treat and slowly desenitize her to the experience.
For instance, if your dog doesn’t like having her paws touched then work more on this with her. Use a high value treat such as plain poached chicken and gently touch and massage her paws while giving her the treat. This will help your dog understand the this kind of touch from a human isn’t a big deal.
Visit the Vet Just For Fun
If you only take your dog on a car ride when it is time to visit the vet then she might begin to associate the car and the vet with something unpleasant. To help combat this common fear make sure to take your pooch with you on rides when going on errands.
Try visiting the vet for a social call. Drop in a to say hello and make sure to give out tasty treats for good behavior. If possible sit down for a couple minutes with your pup and relax in the waiting area. This will allow your dog to start associating the vet’s office as a place where good things happen, such as receiving treats. For the first couple of visits your dog might feel nervous and as such these early visits might simply involve breezing through the lobby rather than hanging out with the staff. But fret not for the more social visits you take with your pup the more accustomed she will be to visiting the veterinarian.
Bring Your dog’s Favorite High Value Treats
Most vet offices and clinics have tasty treats and biscuits on hand; however, sometimes they aren’t enough to entice your four-legged pal when you want to ensure a positive experience. Bring high value treats and give a few to the vet-techs and vet to give to your dog. Watson loves cheese and poached chicken so I often bring those as special treats for vet visits and other stressful situations. It helps to break the ice between Watson, the vet, and the staff. Now he loves going to the vet!
Keep Yourself Calm and Relaxed
Dogs are deeply intuitive when it comes to our emotions and that means when you are feeling anxious, stressed, or fearful your dog thinks he as a valid reason to be concerned and upset.
In order to avoid this try to keep yourself calm and collected during vet visits regardless of how your dog reacts. Although often easier said than done, avoid reinforcing the stress, fear, and anxiety your dog might be feeling. Even seemingly natural reactions such as petting, coddling, or soothing your dog with your voice might actually reinforce the fear he is feeling. Instead, remain composed and act positive and upbeat. If you act like everything is fine your dog might pick up on that and start relaxing.
If you take a more proactive approach with your dog’s vet visits then you can help reduce the fear and stress he may feel. This will help make the entire experience more enjoyable for you, your dog, and the vet!