Make Sure Your Dog Loves the Veterinary Hospital
Okay, okay not ALL
But all dog will have to visit the vet hospital in their lives.
Most dogs should be examined every 6 months.
Think about it, we should go to the doctor’s office every year at least; and your dog ages about 7 years (or more) faster than you age!
But there are some simple things that you can do to make him tolerate it better if he is stressed.
- Dogs get poked
- They get their temperature taken in an inappropriate way
- They get their nails trimmed
- They get their ears cleaned
- And they get generally manipulated at the veterinary office.
Heck, I work at one so I know first hand.
Let me assure you that we, as staff, would prefer to take all the time necessary to make all of our patients comfortable and happy.
But, the truth is, we are usually on a tight schedule.
We deal with animals in emergency
We deal with people who ran 20 minutes late to their 30 minute appointment
And we deal with the sadness of putting sick and elderly animals to sleep.
We simply don’t have the time to trim one toe nail at a time to make a dog comfortable.
Nor does any owner want to pay for such a short service.
Most people want all the nails trimmed and dremmeled so that they are not as sharp!
Essentially most people take their dog to the vet to be man handled and poked.
Take Your Dog to Socialize
100% of people working at the vet, love pets.
There is not a single one of us that “hates” your child with fur.
We work in a business where we get covered in blood, feces, snot, ear goop, mange, and vomit and we do it for the furry patient.
We would much prefer you bring us your bundle of furry joy so that we might pet, snuggle or even just toss treats to him to change his idea about the vet office.
Bring him in once a month or week, get his weight and let us fawn over him and build a relationship with him. One that doesn’t involve pokes, restraint or anything up the poop shoot.
Bring liver, bring steak, bring boiled chicken to your dog’s yearly or other appointment.
I see so many dog owners miss the total opportunity of being able to control and reward their dogs behaviors.
To negate the negativity of something thrust up the poop shoot, and a needle poked into a vein and rough hands palpating your internal organs, well you could imagine that a regular old piece of dog food or average treat isn’t going to do it.
And, heck the dogs that get these tidbits are usually taking them because we have them sitting around the clinic.
Wouldn’t your dog enjoy a vet visit much more if boiled chicken breast was earnable and in your pocket or in a container?
Heck, you could poke my female Dutch Shepherd in the eye with a sharp instrument if she thought you had something particularly tasty.
Now add these treats every time an indignity is performed on your dog… and don’t you figure he will be more accepting of touch he doesn’t necessarily care for.
After all, we can’t love a blood draw or a nail trim out of a dog (wish we could).
My dogs “almost” enjoy a nail trim because they know I will reward them lavishly for good behavior. I even set the treats on the ground as I ask for them to lay still and let me trim their nails. The moment I say “All Done” they know they have the release to eat their cookie!
The same principle can be applied to veterinary exams.
Toys are also under utilized.
At our clinic we give free tennis balls.
I wish we could do a study to see how many dogs’ blood pressure decreases when they are tossed a tennis ball at the clinic.
I bet it is a HUGE number.
That is not to say that it doesn’t rise at other moments but wouldn’t you like to take away some of the fear and pain for a moment?
I suppose that would be like taking your toddler to the Dr. not being able to explain anything. Forcing them to leave their toys, be pinned down, and then not rewarding them or praising them at all.
I mean, think about it, pediatricians have toys, rewards and fun (all that they can) around and use them often.
I remember having a kidney infection at about 4 about remaining completely still for the urinary catheter because I wanted a Mickey Mouse ring…
Your dog has about the same mentality.
Toys, treats, rewards are all worth being a little better behaved for IF YOU BRING THEM!
I have a 3 year old Malinois, and he is difficult at best.
However, I can control him fairly easily.
When I take him to the vet; I take his tug toy.
He is stressed when we enter the clinic so he chomps on his tug like a pacifier. Ironically he won’t even drop it.
He can be temped, vaccinated, and even have his teeth examined while he holds his favorite toy!
If he didn’t hold his toy, there would likely be a blood letting.
Which leads me to the next scenario. …
For some of us a muzzle brings comfort.
For the human, it takes the worry out that your dog is going to bite off a digit, because no one WANTS there dog to bite at the vet.
For the dog, it gives him something else to think about and it takes out the options.
Muzzled dogs can be so much calmer because they simply know that fighting is futile and it occupies his mind.
Think I am crazy, slip a muzzle on your dog and then do something else he would typically notice; like go to the refrigerator.
The average newly muzzled dog will not even notice that the fridge is open because he is soooo busy thinking about what is on his face.
This holds true for those of us wishing to vaccinate, trim nails or get blood.
At previous clinics, we would often just muzzle a wiggly dog because the mental confusion of the muzzle allowed us to get work done quick.
A dog that would typically take 2 or 3 of us, would now be able to be conquered by one person fairly quickly.
Muzzles can be wonderful tools when people get over the stigma!
Just do it! Use these strategies to decrease your dog’s stress at the vet!
Take the trauma and drama out of your vet visits by going into them prepared with everything your dog needs to make him comfortable at the vet!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.