Almost every dog-owner has experienced a stressful visit to the vet at least once. Anxious dogs have a tendency to act out, and their behavior, in turn, makes you want to swear off check-ups forever.
It doesn’t have to be hair-pulling ordeal, however. Learn these 7 secrets, and your next visit to the animal care clinic should be smooth sailing.
Visit the Vet Before Your Appointment
Dogs do better in familiar surroundings. You can use this fact to your advantage by familiarizing your dog with the vet before that first visit.
Take a few casual trips that have nothing to do with your dog’s check-up, and you’ll find them less “freaked out” when it’s time for the real thing.
Don’t Let Your Dog Associate the Car or Carrier With the Vet
In the similar way, you don’t want your dog to associate a trip in the car (or their pet carrier) with a visit to the vet. If they do, they might become anxious whenever you summon them to either location.
To keep your pet from fearing their carrier, you’ll need to make it a “happy place.” Instead of making it a box you stuff them in only when you want to transport them to the vet, make the carrier a friendly, everyday hangout.
To make the car a less scary place, use it to take your dog to places other than the vet (like the park). That way, when you head to your vehicle, they’ll think of those good times (instead of the unpleasant ones).
Let Your Dog Get Used to Handling
During the visit, the vet may have to touch your dog in places they aren’t used to (like their mouth and ears). The remedy here is to get your dog used to having someone touch them.
Start massaging your dog’s paws, ears, and other areas that make them uncomfortable, then provide some positive reinforcement when they behave.
Talk to Your Dog During the Visit
Offering some words of encouragement can help your dog stay relaxed during a visit to the vet. Now, you shouldn’t “baby talk” your dog during the visit, as this will teach them thar acting out is an acceptable behavior.
Instead, keep a calm demeanor during the visit, and praise them when they behave to reinforce their positive behavior.
Make Your Dog Face You
Dealing with a relative stranger (the vet) might be unsettling. By making your dog look at you, you can provide them a measure of comfort.
For dogs that are especially spooked, you might want to try petting/or holding them in addition to making them look your way.
Give Your Pet Treats Throughout the Visit
If you’ve trained your dog in a particular fashion, they’ll offer their full attention when presented with a snack. You can use this to hold their focus and reward them for being obedient while the vet does their job.
Bring a Favorite Toy
Toys can serve as another way to calm your pet down when you’re at the vet. Just like with training your dog, present them with their toy when they’ve done what you’ve asked as a reward. This will reinforce calm behavior and train them to enjoy their visit to the vet.
The vet might seem like a stress-inducing task at first, but a few changes to your routine can make it a fun time for all.