Does your dog hate going to the vet? It is common for dogs to be afraid of vets. There is a lot of poking and prodding, being handled in various ways to check their health and other experiences that can be uncomfortable for them during the visit, so it’s not surprising that they dislike it. However, there are many dogs who love going to the vet – have you ever wondered why?
Tips to make your dog happier at the vet’s surgery
Find the right vet
Choosing the right vet can be tricky at first, but it’s a fact that you need to take your dog’s opinion into account. Watch closely during visits! Do the staff and vet like interacting with your furry friend? Are they friendly and cheerful with pets and people? Above all, do they really want to get to know your dog and make him or her feel comfortable? If not, you may want to look for a new vet.
Get your dog used to being handled
Many dogs will not accept a stranger touching them, especially if they were not well socialised as puppies. You can start doing little things at home to get your dog used to the same feeling of a veterinary examination. First, familiarise yourself with the process of a basic veterinary examination. Then, perform your own version at home.
If your dog gets used to being touched and handled in unusual ways, he may be a little more accepting when it comes from a stranger.
Visit just for fun
Ideally, you should get your dog used to the vet before he has a health problem and you have to go. If done well, your dog may become very enthusiastic about the vet’s visit.
Plan visits to the vet just to socialise and take a look around. Pick a time when your dog is feeling well and you don’t need to see the vet. Ask your vet clinic what their off-peak hours are for this. You should not need an appointment to do this.
Take your dog for a car ride or walk to the clinic. Encourage and reward your dog for getting a little excited or just being calm and relaxed. If your dog’s reaction is positive, enter the clinic and greet the staff. Everyone should do this in a calm manner, making sure not to overwhelm the dog. You can give the dog some treats to encourage him and make him feel safe and happy in the situation.
If you notice that your dog is getting nervous, it is time to leave. The first few times you do this, it might be as simple as walking through the lobby for 10 seconds. You may eventually start to notice the tail wagging as you approach the clinic door. When he’s ready, try to schedule a simple appointment to perform a basic health check on your dog.
Don’t skimp on treats and praise
If your dog is like most dogs, he’ll love food. Arm yourself with his favourite treats every time you go to the vet. Ask your vet to offer them as well.
Give small amounts of treats at frequent intervals to keep your dog motivated, but don’t overdo it so he doesn’t get sick to his stomach. The last thing you want is another trip to the vet for vomiting or diarrhoea.
Stay calm and relaxed
Your dog is very intuitive about your emotions, thanks to the close bond you both share. Because of this, he can easily sense your own feelings of anxiety, stress or fear. You may notice your dog’s anxiety, stress or fear, and your mood changes. Your dog picks up on this and thinks he really has a valid reason to be nervous or worried.
To avoid this, try to remain calm and optimistic during veterinary visits, regardless of how your dog acts. As difficult as it may seem, try to avoid reinforcing the fear, stress or anxiety your dog is feeling.
Instead, keep your composure and be upbeat. Do your best not to reinforce your dog’s fearful or anxious behaviour. If you act as if everything is fine, your dog may get the message.
How does your dog behave during veterinary visits? Looking for a vet where your dog fits in? Come and try our Hospital Veterinari Glòries; we know how to make your dog feel at home.