Tips for Vet Visits with Scared Dogs

Some dogs handle the vet visit admirably and even enjoy going to the vet because of the tasty treats, but many dogs become nervous and insecure at the mere mention of the vet. This is easily avoidable and should be incorporated into the dog's regular training from puppyhood.

For a variety of reasons, dogs may develop a fear of the veterinarian. One common reason is that they associate the veterinarian's office with unpleasant experiences, such as being in pain or receiving shots. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells at the vet's office can also be stressful for some dogs. Also, if the dog is not sufficiently socialized and exposed to a variety of places and people, he may be afraid of new and unfamiliar environments. Furthermore, dogs can pick up on their owners' nervous energy, making them even more anxious.

First time at the vet

There are many new and unfamiliar smells for the puppy at the vet, which can make it nervous. The puppy is not used to the smell of so many different dogs in the same room at this age, which is only a few months old. As a result, it is critical that both the owner and the staff do their part to ensure that the puppy feels safe and happy. Animal clinic employees understand how to handle dangerous dogs, and motivation and treats are usually not spared. Some dog owners, on the other hand, may overemphasize the puppy's insecurity.

Attempting to comfort the puppy inadvertently and subconsciously can have negative consequences. Some owners will pick up their puppy if it crawls under the chair, sits, and shakes a little. This behavior comes from the heart and is motivated by pure love for the new puppy, but it simply confirms to the puppy that it is okay to be scared and that the owner will protect it. During future visits, the puppy will be nervous. It is critical that you consider your body language as the dog's owner.

In the waiting room

The correct body language towards the puppy in this situation will be to show "it's just so cool to be at the vet". As a result, be really happy and motivating in front of the vet, and have treats and possibly a chew toy in your pocket. As a result, your attitude toward the puppy must be positive. When the door opens and you enter the waiting room, greet the puppy cheerfully and allow it to sniff around.

When you've found your seat in the waiting room, don't talk to the puppy; instead, sit calmly and relaxedly with your body language while the puppy remains on the floor. It should not be petted or comforted. Instead, reward it with a treat or a toy for sitting nicely on the floor. Distract the puppy with training exercises such as sit or give paw if it is overly insecure.

In the consultation

Maintain the same positive attitude and radiate "you can do it" and "this is not at all dangerous, you're just a cool little puppy" when the vet calls you into the consultation room. Allow the puppy to walk around and sniff for a while before you begin. Inside the room is the dreaded examination table, on which the puppy must stand. Because the puppy is not used to standing on a raised platform, this can be an uncomfortable experience. The veterinarian most likely lowers the table all the way to the floor and may use enticing treats.

Some puppies can jump on the table by themselves, while others require assistance. Allow enough space for the puppy to be examined comfortably by the vet and don't hover. Instead, step back from the table and hold the puppy's collar, speaking calmly to it while gently scratching its neck. Use a pleasant, normal, and calm tone of voice. In this way, the puppy learns that it does not need your protection and can easily stand on its own. Of course, when the exam is finished, lavish it with praise. 

Training is the way forward

If you have a dog who is terrified of the vet, it is critical that you train him. This is accomplished by visiting the veterinarian as frequently as possible, preferably a couple of times per week. You can begin by simply walking past the vet without going in, and then rewarding the dog with treats. Then you can simply walk in, give a treat, and then exit. You can come in the next time and sit in the waiting room for 5 minutes, talking calmly to the dog and rewarding it. But don't talk to it all the time, and don't poke or pick it up.

As the dog calms down, the time spent in the waiting room can be extended, and the dog can be weighed on the scales on the way out. The dog must never be dragged or lifted onto the scale; instead, it must learn to step onto the scale on its own, with the assistance of treats if necessary. The goal is for the dog to be fairly comfortable sitting nicely and calmly in the waiting room without needing treats or attention, and to be able to stand on the scale. Repeat a few times more until the dog accepts the good and safe visit as normal.

If in doubt, PetLux always recommends consulting with your veterinarian.

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