Going to the vet can be quite stressful, not only for a dog but also for the owner of the dog if they are extremely scared of visiting the vet.
That why I’ve created this list of 10 basic tips and tricks that are guaranteed to help you and your dog if they are scared of the vet.
These tips will not only help those who are taking their dog to the vet for the first time, but also those who an unfortunate to own a dog that’s already scared of the vet.
1. Visit Your Vet, Even When It “Unnecessary”
If you only take your dog to the vet, when he/she is sick or going for a check-up, it’s very likely that they will end up being scared by going to the vet.
That’s why one of the best advice you can get to help your dog to not be scared of the vet, is to frequently visit your vet, and make sure it’s a positive experience with a lot of treats involved.
Most veterinary clinics are more than happy to welcome their patients on some of these “treat-visits”.
New puppy owners should also consider this and take several visits before the first round of vaccines when their puppy is around 12-weeks old.
An abundance of positive visits is by far the best cure against a dog getting scared by the vet.
2. Don’t Stop Going
If your dog for some reason ends up having a bad experience while at the vet, don’t stop going anyway, but make sure that there will be many more positive visits in the following weeks, where it’s all about giving your dog treats.
The more positive visits you’re able to schedule, the easier it will be to erase that one bad experience. How many visits that’s needed is entirely up to your dog and it’s temper and just how unpleasant that experience was.
3. Have the Vet Come to You
It has become more and more common for vets to make house calls and come directly to your home, where both you and your dog feels familiar and happy.
You should be able to find a good mobile vet near your area.
As an example have the doctors and staff at Fear-Free Veterinary Clinics have “taken the time to complete extra behavioral and fear-free practice training/certification to help aid fearful pets.”
4. Make Your Dog Accustomed to Being Handled
This can’t be stated enough.
The more your dog is used to being handled in general, the better he/she will act when being handled by the vet – if you’ve trained it in a proper and positive way, that is.
5. Avoid Forcing Your Dog
If your dog is utterly terrified when going to the vet, consider if it’s absolutely vital for your dogs’ health that you go here and now.
If the answer is no, abort the mission for now, and instead put on your training suit, and start training your dog to go when it’s necessary sometime in the future.
If the answer is yes, have a chat with your vet, and ask if there’s a possibility of giving your dog a sedative of some sort, before you continue.
6. Accustom Your Dog to the Vets’ Equipment
When going to the vet, your dog will experience a lot of tools and equipment they have never seen before, and it might seem scary.
There’s no reason that your dog shouldn’t have the chance to experience some of these weird items before going to the vet. So consider buying a cheap set of doctors’ tools, and adapt your dog to those instruments in the safety of your home.
7. Always Use the Best Treats at the Vet
Getting a bunch of delicious treats at the vet will quickly establish a positive association with the clinic and the staff there, and help keep the stress levels low.
If your dog is a picky eater (they rarely are) bring some treats from home that you know your dog loves. Well-known treats can also help to increase the level of comfort in your dog.
8. Don’t Pressure Your Dog
Every action causes a reaction and can lead to a negative experience for the dog.
A good idea is to let your dog jump onto the examination table or the scale by itself.
Consider if there are other situations where you’re forcing your dog (pulling a bit rough on the leash as an example). If you notice that your dog takes a long time to overcome his/her reluctance, you should practice on the situation beforehand, so that you don’t feel stressed by your vets’ time schedule, and end up forcing your dog into situations he/she isn’t prepared for or comfortable with.
9. Stay Calm Yourself
If you get riled up and start acting stressed or anxious, your dog will most certainly also feel those emotions.
If you are nervous, take some deep breaths and think hard about how you act around your dog is such a situation, and ensure that you put on a cool and calm facade instead.
10. Find a Vet You and Your Dog Trusts
If you have a vet that your not all that comfortable with, find another.
You might’ve been using the same vet for decades with another dog, but if your current dog doesn’t like the vet, or the vet doesn’t seem to be able to handle your dog in such a way that he/she feels safe, it’s much better to find a new one that clicks with all of you.
Just because somebody was great with another dog once, doesn’t mean they are with another.
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