Going to the vets is a stressful time for the majority of dogs. At some point it wasn’t though so how do we get back to that?
The first thing to do is recognise that, whilst the team who work at the vets are lovely people, generally something bad has happened to the dog when going to the vets. It could be their yearly jabs, or they had an accident or were unwell. Whatever the reason your dog probably got an injection and a thermometer put where they didn’t want it to go! Put yourself in their paws, how would you like it?
I like to think it’s similar to people’s fear of the dentist. Usually a bed experience as a child leads to a lifelong hate of going. Unless you are me. Because I am weird, I like going to the dentist!
All dogs react differently to the vets. Some are fine. Some get nervous. Some shake with fear. Some bark the whole time. It can be improved but it will take time. If your dog is really bad start of by just driving to the vets when its closed. Let your dog have a sniff around and reward good behaviour with a high value treat (cooked chicken, cheese, hot dog) don’t overdo the length of the visit and maybe follow it up with a walk preferably in your dog’s favourite place. Let your dog start to associate the vets as a place where good things happen. Build it up, when you dog is comfortable with being driven to the vets, being in the vet’s car park and being outside the vets it’s time to move inside.
Speak to the receptionist before you start this stage. Ask them when is the quietest time that you can bring your dog in to just familiarise it. When you know the ideal time, go. Pop in, say hello to the receptionists and let them make a fuss of your dog and then go home. Again build up the time in there. If there are scales in the reception area weigh your dog, have a sit down and then go. As your dog gets more used to it you can then step it up a gear and go at a busier time.
As with all training it takes time and consistency. Keep making a fuss of your dog and showering them with good things when going to the vets (high value treats, a new toy, a great walk) and they will begin to relax. Your ultimate test will be when you take your dog for its annual booster.
Of course, this may not work with all dogs. If you are struggling to get your dog in the vets at all then see if you can arrange to use a back door to get in.
Love, Sally x
Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!
After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.
Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. You can also find Sally chatting as a guest on dog related podcasts.