Robin and I were returning an amazing Great Dane named Boomer to his owner in Buckhead last week. Boomer had just finished a two-week Board and Train program with us. During that time, he proved to be a great student and was the perfect house guest. We went over all of our training exercises with our client, and he was thrilled with what Boomer accomplished while in our program.
As we were wrapping up, our client told us that he had scheduled Boomer for an appointment with his Veterinarian the following week. He continued to tell us that it was always a challenge to get him there and then not go completely nuts while at the hospital. He asked us if we could provide him with any tips that could give him to help make the Vet visit pleasant and not a major disaster…
We started off by acknowledging the fact that taking Boomer to their Veterinarian on a regular basis is the sign of being a great dog owner. We reminded him that visiting the Veterinarian on a regular basis, even though Boomer may “seem fine”, is critical in maintaining his health and insuring that he has a long, vigorous, and rewarding life.
Simply put, Vet visits are an important part of being a responsible pet owner. As is often the case, routine visits to the Vet Hospital can often be a distressing time for your dog. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you start to understand what a Vet visit is like from your dog’s point of view, you will start to appreciate why he may become so overwhelmed and disoriented when he is there. Not only will he be overwhelmed with the plethora of new smells, he will also hear excited barking from unknown dogs, meowing cats, and strange voices coming from unfamiliar people. On top of all this, your dog will be physically touched by the Vet Techs in unusual ways. All of these things naturally will make him very nervous and possibly fearful.
We would like to share some tips with you that will help your dog to enjoy his Vet Hospital experience:
- The first thing you need to accomplish is to place your dog in the car and to go to the Vet Hospital before there are any scheduled appointments. Get him familiar with the clinic when there is very little going on. Let him become accustomed to the smells and sounds of “this new place”. This will make the place not so “unknown and scary” when he actually needs to go there for his appointment. Make sure that he meets all the people who work there. Have the front desk staff greet him in a calm and soothing manner. Have the Vet Techs give him a treat and place him on a scale. Calmly let him explore the examination room. A few visits like this will help him understand that the Vet Clinic is really a fun and safe place.
- You can prepare your dog at home to understand the sensation of being held and examined by the Vet staff. Lightly pat him on different areas of his body while he is in a relaxed state. Imitate how the Vet will examine your dog — touch around his eyes and ears, lightly rub and caress his feet and toes (which also helps minimize his fear of nail clipping), raise his lips and touch his teeth, slowly move his legs, etc. Perform all these actions in a calm and deliberate manner. You can provide some soothing verbalization but keep it to a minimum. Remember, your voice and your Vet’s voice do not sound the same.
- Many dogs’ only car ride experience is to the Vet Hospital. Because of this, your dog would logically associate any car ride with a trip to the Vet and ensuing consequences. This could easily make the car ride a very anxious moment for your dog. To eliminate this associated anxiety, take your dog for car rides to multiple locations as often as you can. I recommend that you take him to places he enjoys. This will create an association of being in the car to happy times.
- Make sure that you exercise with your dog before you go to the Vet. A dog that is worn out from playing is relaxed and easier to handle.
- Always remain calm while you are with him at the Vet Hospital. Your dog can sense your feelings, and you need to remain calm so he can feel calm. Your dog looks to you for his safety and security.
- Have a short leash on your dog while you are waiting in the reception area. Maintain control of him during your entire visit to minimize any stress, injury or issues that may arise. If your dog shows any sign of aggression towards dogs or humans, have a muzzle on him while at the Vet Hospital. We recommend the Baskerville muzzle.
- If you have a small dog, take him into the vet hospital in his carrier. He’ll feel more comfortable being in a familiar space. Have his sleeping blanket and favorite toys in the carrier with him. These items will provide him with a needed distraction and provide an additional sense of security.
- Once the vet visit is complete, take your dog somewhere fun.
Besides providing you with additional peace of mind, your Veterinarian and Clinic Staff will also appreciate your actions for making their jobs easier and your dog’s experience safer.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.