Taking your dog to the vet can be stressful for both you and your dog. The good news is, there are things you can do with your dog to make the regular vet visit an enjoyable experience.
Below, we will discuss many of the stress-causing elements of a veterinarian visit and give you some warm-ups you can do with your dog to help in each of the situations.
Help Your Dog Enjoy Riding in the Car
You will most likely have to put your dog in the car to take her to the vet. Before just throwing her into the car, practice with her getting into and out of the car. Let her relax with you in the car for short periods of time without starting the vehicle. Gradually increase the time and then start the car.
I also recommend that you create a designated area for your dog to be when riding. In SUVs, it is easy to designate the back area. In a car, the back seat is the safest place for your dog. If you insist on the front seat, make sure she knows to stay on the passenger side. Teach your dog to relax and enjoy the ride.
Get Your Dog Accustomed to People, Pets, and Places
That awful vet visit should never be awful. With practice and great socialization, you can make a visit to the vet’s office a pleasing event.
Start with going to different public places such as the pet store, Home Depot, and even your vet’s office when you don’t have an appointment.
Good practice for your dog would include:
- Entering and exiting various places
- Walking on different types of flooring
- Experiencing different types of lighting
- Sampling different levels of noise
- Hanging out with crowds of different size
It is always a good idea to go when there could be other dogs around. Let others approach and pet your dog whenever possible. The mission here is to get your dog used to people, pets, and places.
Visit the Vet Before Your Appointment
The first visit can be very intimidating for a dog. As I mentioned above, I always suggest going to your veterinarian office on non-appointment days to introduce your dog to as many of the staff as possible. Most people never think about doing this with their dog. It is a simple practice that could avoid many stressful trips in the future. Getting your dog to know the people she will be seeing only two or three times a year is very forward-thinking.
Preparing Your Dog for the Veterinary Exam Itself
When playing with your dog, you can do some very simple things that can prepare her for what she will experience during an exam:
- Rub her ears, stick your fingers in them (not to hard or far), and clean them every now and again, even if it is with a dry paper towel.
- Play with her paws, stick your fingers between the pads, and check the nails. Clip her nails yourself when you can.
- Belly rubs, roll her over, make her hold still on her back for short periods of time.
- Pull her tail—not hard—just lift itand hold it until she relaxes.
Relax and Enjoy
These few things will go a long way toward helping you enjoy your experiences when having a visit with your veterinarian.
Oh, and think positive. If you stress over the visit, your dog will sense this and start to stress-out as well and not even know why.