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Vet Visits Don't Have To Be A Nightmare

Does your dog hate going to the vet? Can you blame them? Many dogs associate vet visits with being poked, prodded, touched, and restrained by strangers. For many dogs, vet visits become more and more stressful each time, because the dog begins to become fearful the moment they enter the clinic when they remember the negative experience they had before.

After all, many of us humans dread going to the doctor too. And we have the added benefit of knowing what is going on during our doctor's appointments.

But guess what? Vet visits don't have to be a nightmare for your dog! There are several things you can do to help prepare your dog to be more comfortable with procedures at the vet. Many of the steps you can take involve starting at home!

Below is a list of options that can help your dog become more comfortable with vet visits.

  1. Cooperative Care Dog Training: This means teaching your dog skills to help them to be able to consent to veterinary procedures! A chin rest is one of my favorite behaviors. This involves teaching your dog to rest their chin in your hand or on a surface, in order to consent to a procedure happening. See the video below showing me and my dog Hewie working on a chin rest. You can use a behavior like this to help acclimate your dog to equipment such as a stethoscope or procedures such as an injection.

  2. Muzzle Training: If your dog wears a muzzle at the vet for safety reasons, you can teach him/her to enjoy wearing their muzzle for short periods at home! This training helps to take away the added stressor of wearing an unfamiliar device on their face during their appointment.

  3. Familiar Items: Does your dog have a favorite blanket, bed, or mat? See if you can bring it with them for your next vet appointment to give your dog an added sense of familiarity and security.

  4. Happy Visits: Talk to your veterinarian about bringing your dog for visits to the clinic that do not involve any stressful procedures. Usually, these visits involve entering the parking lot or lobby, engaging your dog in their known behaviors or tricks, and lots of treats from you. This helps to build a more positive association with the vet office for your dog.

  5. Pre-Visit Medication: Consult with your veterinarian to see if they think that your dog would benefit from a pre-visit medication to help take the edge off of the stressful visit.

  6. Get Professional Help: Seek help from a certified dog professional to come up with a personalized plan to set your dog up for more successful vet visits!

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