Whatever the age of your dog, it is important to build up good associations with going to the vet for them, in order to make the whole experience as stress free as possible. A bad experience at the vets, or an owner that is anxious and nervous about the whole endeavour, can lead to a reluctance to go into the clinic at all, and prove to be a stressful experience for your pet.
Every dog needs to go to the vets at least once a year for their annual boosters and a check up, and of course, over the course of their lives they may well need to go to the surgery on multiple other occasions as well!
Whether you own an adult dog or a puppy, these essential tips to keeping your dog calm for their vet visits and managing the whole experience properly can help dog owners of all types.
A dog that will not sit, stay or do as they are told is going to find their visit to the clinic, and many other aspects of their life, too much more stressful than they need to be. Basic training and obedience is essential for dogs of all types, regardless of their size. Even tiny dogs like the Chihuahua can soon turn into a snarling, snapping ball of fur if they are not taught good manners, and for larger dogs such as the Great Dane, or strong dogs like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, handling them if they are unruly can prove to be close to impossible.
Dogs usually bond and obey their immediate family and handlers first and foremost, and may be reluctant to be handled or commanded by third parties. However, it is vital to get your dog used to being handled by other people, particularly people that they will not see on a regular basis, in order to ensure that they are open to the idea of being handled by the staff at the vets. Take the opportunity when you can to let other people handle your dog and issue commands to them, and ensure that your dog comes to view this in a positive light.
Veterinary examinations can prove rather strange for dogs, as they generally involve being handled and experiencing sensations that they are not used to. Whether this involved being lifted onto a scale, having their ears examined or having their temperature taken, the chances are that veterinary visits will provide experiences other than the norms that your dog will have got used to dealing with every day.
Try to get your dog used to the process of examinations by practicing lifting their ears, lifting their limbs, palpating their bodies, and standing still while you take their pulse. This will make both your life and your vet’s life much easier when you get to the clinic!
Going into the veterinary practice itself presents a wide range of new stimulus for your dog, such as the examination itself, meeting new people, the presence of other animals, and all of the sights, sounds and smells that your dog will be faced with in the waiting room.
For friendly and outgoing dogs, this is often an experience that they thoroughly enjoy, but for shy or nervous dogs, it can prove very stressful. Try to make sure that visiting the clinic is a positive experience for your dog; try to drop in now and then just to say hi so that your dog does not always expect an examination, and see if you can persuade the reception staff to have a kind word with your dog and maybe give them a treat!
Rushing to get to your visit and bundling your dog in and out of the car and the waiting room can cause stress to both dog and owner, so allow yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments and relax. Set out in good time, and keep things low key and calm, so that your dog doesn’t get excited or pick up on your stress.
The waiting room of the surgery can bring up a whole host of emotions in both dogs and people. For routine checks and cheerful dogs, it can be a fun day out and the chance to meet new people, and possibly other pets too. However, for nervy dogs, sick dogs, or owners who suspect that there is something wrong with their pet, it can be a stressful and worrying time.
You may find that other pet owners in the waiting room will want to say hi and meet your dog, and if your dog is happy with this then that is fine. But if your dog is unwell or likely to find this piles on the pressure, don’t be afraid to let people know to keep their distance and allow your dog their personal space.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use distraction techniques to hep your dog to get through their examination happily; the promise of a treat held out of sight or a favourite toy can quickly take your dog’s mind off someone examining them if you play your cards right!