How to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Your Dog
image source: e_walk via flickr.com
If you’re like most humans, you don’t particularly jump for joy when it’s time to go to the doctor. Likewise, if your pup is like most dogs, she harbors a special breed of disdain for going to the vet. The signs are pretty obvious: she sniffs the ground, she yawns, and she licks her lips incessantly. These are all signs of self-soothing our pups use to calm their nerves and help them cope with uncomfortable situations. Not only is a trip to the vet stressful for our four-legged friends, we as their owners are often riddled with guilt for putting our fur babies through the unpleasant procedures in the examination room. So, how can we help our dogs learn to love, or at least not hate, going to the vet? Here are some techniques you can use to take the fear out of their annual visits.
1) Learn to read your dog’s body language. When your dog is relaxed, she’ll hold her head and ears up. Her tail will wag gently and her mouth may hang open slightly. If your dog’s tail is tucked between her legs and her ears are pinned back, these are signs that she’s afraid and needs some TLC to get her through the appointment.
2) Reassign meaning to the vet’s office. Take your pup to the vet’s office every once in a while for some well-deserved belly rubs and treats from the staff. This will help your dog learn to associate the vet’s office with pleasant, fun experiences instead of painful, scary ones.
3) Train your dog to love car rides. If the only time your pup goes in the car is when it’s time to go to the vet, she’ll start getting anxious the second she hops in the back seat. Take your pup on quick car rides to place she likes, such as the park, the beach, or dog daycare to associate the car with fun trips.
4) Redirect your dog’s focus in the waiting room. Much like humans, our dogs appreciate a distraction when they’re nervously anticipating a doctor appointment. Bring a bag of training treats and ask your pup to perform the tricks and commands she knows. This will take her mind off of her worries.
5) Harness the power of pheromones. Many dogs find the therapeutic “hug” of a compression garment to be soothing in times of stress (during a thunderstorm or fireworks, in the car, etc.) Strap a Thundershirt on your dog before her vet appointment and spray it with calming pheromones to further relieve your stressed pup.
How does your dog react when it’s time to go to the vet? Are there any tricks you use to calm your pup and help make the experience a positive one? Share your tips with us on The Doggy Dojo Facebook page.