Monday, January 24, 2011

Is Your Dog Afraid of the Vet?

Does your puppy or dog begin shaking and whining whenever you pull into the veterinary clinic parking lot? Perhaps it's time to start some training! It's time to show your dog that the vet’s office is the greatest place on earth!

Training obviously works better if you start when your dog is a puppy, but any dog can benefit from having positive experiences at your veterinary office.

Here are some suggestions:

Ask your vet if you can bring your dog in for a few quick visits. Perhaps just a pop in for a treat, to see the folks at the front desk, pop in to see the groomer and leave! Work up to spending a few minutes feeding your dog treats, and eventually allowing the staff and your vet to feed treats as well and then leave.

On your next visit, ask if you can take your dog back to an examination room or to get weighed. Feed him treats in the room and then leave. Next time, have a tech or your vet pop in and offer treats!

Always leave on a positive note! If your dog is frightened by something, find
an area where he’s willing to take treats and take it a bit slower. Don’t leave right after your dog has reacted so that you don't reinforce the wrong behavior.
If your dog is afraid, wait until he calms down a little before leaving.

If your dog is extremely fearful, you may have to work a bit harder! Consider feeding him his meals at the vet's office in a quiet area a couple of times per week.

Remember that an extremely fearful dog might not be able to enter the building during the first few sessions. If your dog starts shaking or displaying fear when you pull in the parking lot, start by rewarding him for calming down and once he has improved, move up to going inside.

You can practice a pretend vet exam at home with your dog. Offer treats while looking in the ears, mouth, examining feet and handling your dog. Gently open your dog's mouth and pop in a tiny piece of a treat. Swtich off and get other family members and friends to do the same thing. Getting your puppy used to being handled at a young age will definitely put you in good with your vet!

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