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How to Help a Fearful Dog at the Vet

Copy Rebecca Blankenship
{via pinterest}

Some dogs actually love going to the vets, where some dogs going to the vets can be a very stressful ordeal. The main thing to keep in mind whether your dog loves the vets or hates it, is to keep it positive.

The best way to help your dog associate the vet’s to a none stressful outing, is to visit the vets office as if you would the pet store. Do it frequently, do it weekly if you have to! Of course, you should ask the staff if this is OK ahead of time and perhaps agree on a specific time when the office is generally not too busy. Explain that you want your dog to view the vet office as a fun place to visit, and perhaps the receptionist could even give him a special treat each time you arrive.

If the staff isn’t too busy they can even come out from behind the reception desk and pet your dog to help them relax! The goal with each visit is for your dog to what to stay at the vet’s, when it’s time to leave they wont want to with all the treats and loving they are getting.

With Ginny, the biggest regret I have is not socializing her enough during her fearful times. I would foster a situation, plan my route for the least human interactions she would in counter. Especially with men. If we were in a store, I would avoid any sort of situation of them seeing her. Which wasn’t always the easiest with a huge English Mastiff. But had I have gotten her out and having more introductions with people her fear and her confidence would have been eased when going to the vets.

Warn the Vet Ahead of Time and Plan the Trip.

When I had to switch vet offices later on, I had to explicitly ask for a female vet. And explain to them that she could not be seen by a male vet, not for fear aggression. But because she will be in the corner peeing herself (no joke).

Once the vet got to know Ginny on the first consultation, from there on out she always greeted her in a calm manner. When it came to actually examining Gin, the vet always got down on her knees and would sit beside Ginny checking her over. Bringing treats in her pocket always helped too when Ginny was feeling extra shy.

If you have a smaller dog that has to be placed up on the table, bring a towel, or a small dog bed for them to sit on versus the scary table.

Act Like Going to the Vet is no Big Deal.

If you’re nervous, your dog will be more likely to feel nervous as well. The more your work yourself up playing the what if game in your head, the more likely your dog will start to react to that nervous energy.

Do you have any tricks you use to help your dog go to the vet?

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2 thoughts on “How to Help a Fearful Dog at the Vet”

  • I have one thing to add: be explicit in advance about what you want your vet to do (in terms of greeting; do you want her to kneel down and pet your dog, to ignore them completely etc?), what you want the other staff to do? Also be prepared to stand up for your dog / pet.

    At our surgery there is one vet we trust and who we always try to use; she is amazing and goes out of her way to make sure she is the only one to interact with our dogs. The other staff however are terrible, and before every vet visit we have to ring them and say “our dog is a nervous rescue dog, please don’t approach him, stroke him etc” It makes doing visits where we go in and just feed treats really difficult, as even if we’ve just asked them to leave us alone they come over shrieking our dogs’ name….ugh.

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