Taking Your Dog To The Vet: Less Stressful Veterinary Visits For You and Your Dog

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Learn training techniques to calm your dog and make veterinary visits go more smoothly:

  1. Walk Your Dog – A good long walk will help rid the dog of excess energy before the veterinary visit. A good dog is a tired dog. It is not fair to the dog or the veterinary staff to have a fully excitable dog in the clinic for an exam. A walk will help drain a lot of this energy and help the visit go more smoothly. If your dog is ill or limping a walk may do more harm.
  2. Keep Your Dog Leashed – While in the veterinary clinic keep your dog leashed. The veterinary hospital is full of strange sights, sounds, and scents. The best trained dog will wander from its owner to investigate. The dog may come into contact with other dogs and cats and some may not be friendly, in these cases fights may ensue. It is safer if all dogs are kept leashed.

  1. Let Your Dog Potty Before The Veterinary Visit – Many dogs will potty when excited and this can be embarrassing for some owners. Veterinary clinic staff members are used to this behavior and don’t mind the clean up; but it is less stressful for the dog if allowed to potty before entering the building. Please alert staff members if your dog does use the bathroom so the mess can be promptly cleaned up.
  2. Don’t Reward Fearful or Aggressive Behavior – Once in the veterinary clinic many dogs will act fearful by hiding, whining, or shivering and shaking. While other dogs may show aggressive behaviors; like growling, barking, baring teeth, and the hair along the back (the hackles) will stand up. It is important not to innocently reward these behaviors by soothing and petting your dog or giving treats. Rewarding the behavior will train your dog to act this way while in the clinic. It is better to ignore these behaviors.
  3. Let Veterinary Staff Members Hold Your Pet During Exams – Veterinary staff members have been trained to handle dogs of all sizes. Some dogs will actually behave better when a staff member is holding rather then their owners. This also allows the staff to be the bad guy rather then the owner.
  4. Bring Your Dog To The Vet For Socialization These visits are for fun only, nothing bad. The dog comes by to say “hi”, get a cookie and leave. These visits allow staff members to pet the dog and have fun rather then always be associated with something bad. This will help train the dog to associate the veterinary office with positives rather then all negatives.
  5. Help Your Dog Get Used To Being Handled – During a routine veterinary exam dogs will be touched on their legs, feet, ears, mouth, under the tail, and over their body. The dog can be trained to better handle this if the owner will work at home by touching their dog everyday. Hold the dogs feet and each individual toe, handle the ear, and lift the lip to look at the gums and teeth. This simple training technique can help ready the family dog for its next physical exam.

These simple tips will help make veterinary visits go more smoothly. Contact your veterinarian or a trusted dog trainer for additional training ideas.