Every dog owner should recognize the need for routine veterinary care for their pet. In the first year, puppies need vaccines and wellness checks. They ideally should be spayed or neutered at a young age as well, after their sets of vaccines are finished. Following the first year, dogs should get regular checkups, dental cleanings, and injury or illness treatment.
It is best to start working with your dog from an early age to ensure a less fearful veterinary visit. Dogs can become skittish in new environments, and they can also struggle with being examined by the veterinarian if they are not properly prepared. Learn what you can do to make sure your dog is content during visits to the vet.
Socialize Your Pup
It is best to socialize your puppy from a young age. Starting socialization young can build confidence and help your pet become more comfortable with new people. Puppies who are not socialized well with other dogs and people are more likely to feel anxious at the doctor’s office.
Once your dog is up to date on all their vaccine boosters, start taking them to new places. If your dog is comfortable with other dogs, go to the dog park often. Take walks in noisy and crowded areas in addition to less crowded, more natural places. The more exposure your dog has to different people, places, and things, the less afraid they should be as they grow.
Introduce Frequent Daily Handling
Most pet owners enjoy petting their dog or rubbing their belly. While your pet enjoys this attention, it’s also good to get your dog used to things that can feel uncomfortable or unnatural. You can start small by doing simple touches in sensitive areas, such as the ears or the paws. Slowly work with your dog until they allow you to lift, examine, and feel their ears and paws. Be sure to slowly introduce new sensations to prevent stressing out your pet.
Brush your dog’s teeth at least a few times each week, ideally every day if you can! Groom your dog. Learn to clip their nails and clean out their feet after walks.
These simple grooming chores can be a time for you and your dog to build a trusting relationship. The chores will also teach your dog that sitting still and being patient will make the chore more enjoyable for the both of you. This patience and trust will hopefully translate to easier handling during routine visits and procedures at the veterinary hospital.
Getting Your Pet to the Vet
Vet visits can sometimes be uncomfortable or stressful for a dog. If you only take your dog on trips in the car when you go to the vet, they might associate the car ride itself with going to the vet. This association could ramp up their nerves causing them to be even more anxious than normal when you arrive at your appointment.
Fortunately, you can fix this problem easily by making sure you take your dog other places (including fun places). When your dog sees the car as a trip to fun, they will remain calm even when you get into the parking lot of the vet office.
If you have a small size pet, transporting them in a carrier to the vet is ideal. Make the carrier a fun place for them to be. Keep it out all the time at home filled with their favorite toys, snacks, or blankets. Give them treats to gently guide them into the carrier when ready to go the vet. Keep the carrier secure during the car ride and play soothing music.
Train Your Dog
The more you train your dog with obedience tricks, the better the visit to the vet office will go. Your dog won’t have to be handled as much if they can listen and move all by themselves. Train your dog to do the following.
Sit is a basic command, but you can train your dog to sit still until they are told to move. This will help your dog sit for the vet without moving, and they will be motivated because they know they get a treat for performing the trick properly.
The watch-me trick keeps your dog’s focus on you while the vet does their work. This can help to keep your dog calm and still during the appointment.
This is a trick for getting your dog to touch what you want them to. You can use it to teach your dog to touch a ball, or ring a bell. It is useful for the vet because you can use your hand or a chair as a target to help your dog focus. This trick is a distraction to keep your dog engaged during an exam.
Reward your dog with treats for tricks like you would if you were practicing at home. This way, going to the vet is a fun mental exercise that your dog gets rewarded for.
Don’t Get Too Worked Up
Finally, your dog is intuitive and can often read your emotional state. You should not feel stressed about going to the vet either. If you are worried about your dog being sick or hurt, try your best to stay calm when giving your dog commands. Big shows of emotion are confusing for dogs, and they often don’t understand why you are giving them a big hug or crying. Keep your voice neutral to help your dog feel confident and comfortable in your leadership, and use the same gestures and encouragements you use with your dog on a daily basis.
For more information, contact us at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers.