Love going to the dentist? No. What about the doctor? Again, no. I don’t even like going to the hairdresser – who knows what you will look like when you come out.
So it is no surprise that many dogs hate visiting the vets. Who can blame them? Certainly nothing good ever happens there. We never take our dogs to the vets for something nice do we? They go for jabs or if they are not feeling well.
If you take your puppy or dog to the vet for the first time and he is scared, don’t just think that it will get better. Their fear will increase with each visit if left unchecked. It is possible to desensitise your dog so they get used to vet visits.
If you only drive your dog to the vets and nowhere else then they know something is up as soon as you get them in the car! Start driving them to nicer places like a nosy round the pet store or to the park. At least then he won’t assume the worst when you put him in the car.
Some vets let you take your dog in just as a familiarisation visit. Phone the vet and see when they have a quiet time and if they would mind if you stop by for a visit with no appointment. Start with the car park and build up from there. Go into the vets, give him some treats and then leave. After a few visits where you just walk in, he should be more comfortable so take it a step further. Waiting in the waiting room for a few minutes and again once he is comfortable have him go onto the scales. It will take quite a few visits but it is time well spent when you think of how many trips to the vets there will be in your future.
As with everything, the younger your dog is when you start, the better they will feel about the experience.
Ensure you take a supply of treats but not the normal everyday ones but the really good stuff that your dog will do anything for. If you find something he loves then only give it in the vets. Poppy loved hot dog sausages at dog school so that has now been upgraded to vet treat.[wp-stealth-ads rows=”1″]
This is something that needs to be ahead of time, but is useful to do anyway. Play at being a vet – well within reason! When your dog is happy and calm, practise examining your dog. This is something that you should do on a regular basis anyway, feel their limbs, check eyes, ears and mouth. The more you do it the less distress it will add on when the vet does it. Practice getting them up onto the table, and even weighing them.
It certainly makes life easier if you can train your dog to do the things the vet needs rather than having to lift/put him in place. Obviously this depends on the size of your dog but at the very minimum if they can ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and ‘here’ it will make it a better experience for everyone.
If your dog still becomes distressed, even after the steps above, let your vet know. Sometimes they will try and accommodate nervous patients. Some vets actively work at making dogs feel comfortable during their visits.
Above all remember that your dog picks up on your feelings, so remain calm when you take your dog to the vet. Don’t over compensate by constantly petting him and telling him that it’s all OK. If you are tense because you are expecting an epic scene, then you will probably get one.