Those appointments make even seasoned pet owners a little anxious, usually. So preparing your dog for a vet visit – and yourself – is a great idea.
Never hurts to make the most of some professional care and advice, does it?
And it’s not like vet visits are only for times when you feel something is wrong with your dog. Routine check-ups are a healthy habit in themselves!
And you will also reduce the stress your puppy experiences. Imagine being poked and prodded in a weird place with weird, confusing smells by strange people. For no apparent reason.
You saying you won’t be angry or upset?
And if your dog is understandably terrified of these visits, and that terror manifests itself physically – whether it’s through resisting, or losing control in other ways – these tips should help such situations.
Preparing Your Dog for a Vet Visit
Here are a few simple tips for preparing your dog for a vet visit that you can use to make the most of the appointments…
1. Getting Your Puppy Used to Being Handled at the Vet’s
Many dogs are just too nervous or stressed out by contact with unfamiliar people. And your vet will be handling your dog quite intimately too, on top of being a stranger!
Imagine the discomfort!
While you can’t well ask strangers to come and help train your dog in becoming comfortable with them handling her, you can do a bit of conditioning yourself.
You can start encouraging your dog not to fear touch or handling by rewarding her every time she approaches you as you reach out your hand to her. Don’t forget to reward good responses each time!
While this might not remove her fear of strangers reaching out to her, she will be less stressed out by the act of being handled or touched.
Adding a verbal cue like “there, there” or “touch”, etc. can be doubly effective. If your vet uses the gesture as well as the cue, your dog feel much more comfortable.
2. Keeping Calm in the Waiting Room
Socializing is an effective step at preparing your dog for a vet visit, for sure.
Because she is bound to run into other dogs, and maybe cats, birds and other kinds of pets, in the waiting room. And that is bound to be really exciting, if not stressful.
While you can’t completely prepare your dog for the strangeness of the environment at a vet’s, with the smells and animals it has, little things can make it all better.
Visits to the park and interacting in a controlled manner with other people and pets goes a long way. Your dog must become more used to being around strange people or other pets, and new places and environments.
Also, making casual or social visits to the vet’s is a great way of reducing the stress of appointments. Call ahead at the vet’s and ask if you can drop by for a casual visit.
If the receptionist or technicians can feed your dog some treats, that will induce some positive association for your dog. And if the vet happens to be free to scratch her ears and have a calming chat, even better!
Make sure you have a packet of her favorite calming dog treats handy!
3. Follow the Normal Routine
Make sure to follow your normal routine with your dog on the day of the visit! If you deviate much, your dog will sense the oddness, and that will build up eventually as stress.
Extra exercize and play, however, is a great idea, as it burns excess energy, and will help keep her more calm.
If you can’t play, and if your vet instructs you not to feed your dog in the hours leading up to the appointment, you can do other stuff. A nice, calming walk can work wonders.
And just sitting with your dog, and playing with her favorite toy, for instance, will do her energy levels a lot of good.
4. Be Mindful of Your Own Energy
Speaking of energy levels, you must be very aware of your own stress and demeanor leading up to the appointment.
Your dog’s energy is well tied in with your own, and is easily influenced by how you’re acting. So acting in a calm, normal manner is one of the most basic things you can when preparing your dog for a vet visit.
Remember that you’re the pack alpha as long as your dog is concerned, and she will follow your example for the most part.
- Talk to your dog in a calm, but firm tone
- Practice some commands leading up to the appointment to reaffirm her training
- If you’re stressed or anxious, do your best not to show it outwardly. If you have someone else at home to accompany you two and relieve the stress, use that company
- Also, it’s not a bad idea to carry some puppy pads along for the ride just in case your dog is super-stressed and anxious. Being prepared yourself will help you remain calm too
We hope you found these tips on preparing your dog for a vet visit handy. If you know any other tips or suggestions from your own experiences, do let us know in the comments section below!
Featured image by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash