Making a Trip to the Vet Fun
Working in a veterinary clinic, I see tons of dogs ( and cats) that really don't like coming in to see the Doctor. Who can blame them, it's scary! The place smells funny and sometimes not so pleasant things happen there. The staff and Doctors at our clinic are very kind to the animals and we try to make every visit as comfortable as possible for all of our patients. Delicious, meaty treats are always offered and we even have special hypoallergenic cookies for dogs with allergies.
We use Pheramone atomizers to make the place "smell" more calming and play soft music. We even light the building with special UV bulbs to immitate a more natural light. Even with all this, many patients are absolutely terrified and just plain shut down once they enter our building.
It breaks my heart to see a dog wide eyed and shaking with fear in the waiting room.
So how can we help these dogs feel more comfortable?
If you are starting with a puppy it's a little easier to make going to the vet more of a fun trip, but this can work with an adult dog too.
Call the vets office and ask when is a slow time to drop by for a few minutes.
Bring treats and toys with you and go into the clinic with Fido-WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT. Just stop in, sit in the waiting room and feed Fido a few treats, play with him or practice some of your obedience, whatever he loves and can do in this environment,then get up and leave.
Some dogs are so terrified that they won't eat a treat and they certainly won't take it from the strange Doctor or Technician, so bring something from home that you know Fido can't resist and ask the staff to refrain from saying Hello or trying to make friends -for now.
If Fido gets carsick or just refuses to eat at the vets, how about his FAVORITE toy? (So long as he isn't possesive over his toys) bring one along. Play a short game of tug or fetch in the waiting room.
**Beware if there are other animals present-we don't want any fighting over treats or toys!!
Try to visit often, once a week maybe,just for a few minutes. If your dog is REALLY scared just walk him in and then walk him right out again. Be sure to stay upbeat, PRAISE and REWARD him just for going through the door.
You may need to walk in and out several times, but eventually he will realize this is no big deal. Walk in, walk out, get a treat or play a game-it's all good! From there you can progress to walking down the hall toward an exam room. Maybe if things are going well and they have an empty room, go in and step up on the scale? Remember- lots of praise, treats and fun interaction with you!
Your dog should enjoy going places with you and going to the vet can be just as exciting as going to the park!
This method takes time. Weeks or Months,depending on how often you can practice.
Isn't it worth it to teach your dog to trust?