Going to the doctor can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone and it’s no different for dogs going to the vet. They have to sit in the waiting room where everything smells different. They’re surrounded by strange animals and the whiff of fear, until they’re taken into a small room where someone pokes and prods at them.
No wonder some dogs find going to the vets incredibly stressful. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to attend annual check-ups with a happy, stress-free dog.
1. Positive association. If your new dog is an adult or rescue dog, it can be difficult to override the knowledge they already have of how they feel about the vet. Allowing them to associate the vets with something positive can take time. Travel the route to the vets regularly so that they don’t recognise the journey as something scary.
When they’re happy with travelling to the vets, take them in every now and then to weigh her and meet the receptionists. Give her lots of treats and praise so that the vet clinic feels like a happy place.
2. Stress relieving collar. You may find that a collar will help your dog to stay calm. Some collars release calming pheromones when warmed by your dog’s skin to combat the stress levels in your dog. Your vets may well use these as plugins around the practice. If you’re unsure about using this collar, speak to your vet about what they would recommend.
3. Distract your dog. Waiting for your appointment can be one of the worst moments for a dog. They don’t understand why they’re having to wait, surrounded by strange other animals, and will no doubt pick up on any nervousness from you as well. A great way to combat this is to distract them.
Take a pocket full of treats with you and go through the commands that your dog knows. Ask your dog to sit, lie down, give a paw and, if there’s enough space, heel, along with any other words your dog knows. Give him a treat every time he does well and make it fun; soon neither of you will remember to be nervous.
4. Team up with the vet. Even the best positive association and distraction work can all be undone if your vet is rushed or unsympathetic with your dog. If your dog is particularly nervous, get the vet on your side let your vet know that your dog needs extra patience and attention. They can allow more time for the consultation and efforts to fuss over your dog to help her relax.
A good vet will give your dog some time to explore the consult room and settle while they talk to you, and will be gentle and slow when going through the check-up to ensure your dog stays relaxed and happy. Talk to clinics like Kingston Animal Hospital to learn more about some tips and tricks to help your dog enjoy his or her trip to the vet.