The Vet: Never An Enemy Again
How many times do I hear desperate owners complain because the dog does not want to go to the vet, or does not want to be visited, vaccinated, remove points, etc. …!
You may be wondering why some dogs do this.
We assume that our dog should be happy to go to a doctor’s office, perhaps just because we do it for his own good, but he doesn’t know that. Indeed, if we try to put ourselves in his shoes, we can well understand his disappointment when, after having made him wear the leash and he hopes to go for a walk, he finds himself at:
- to wait in a waiting room of an outpatient clinic;
- to have around several other animals with whom he does not want or cannot interact freely (or, at least, with a part of them);
- to sit, preferably, in silence until his turn;
- Finally, let yourself be bothered with fingers stuck in the mouth, thermometer in the back, injections, otoscope in the ears or tweezers to take out points in an area where perhaps he was operated on or has memory of a traumatic event.
Why should a dog love this?! Have you ever thought about it?
So, often, the doctor of our quadrupeds is put to the test in handling small or large animals that refuse to undergo his treatment and, therefore, is forced to use the muzzle or, in the most difficult cases, to sedate the dog.
No owner or vet on average sensitive is happy to adopt a solution of this kind, but really we can not do anything to prevent this?
Of course we can do, and also a lot, so that we do not have to resort to coercive (keeping the dog still by force, making him wear a muzzle, etc..) or pharmacological answers! It is the owner’s responsibility to prepare his best friend to live this experience in peace and turn the visit to the vet into a pleasant diversion.
In what way?
Creating positive associations!
Below, I propose you a sequence of very useful exercises for your puppy, who still does not show discomfort in being visited by the vet, because they are an excellent tool of prevention, which will ensure that you do not find yourself in the situations described above. If your pet is an adult, or already shows moderate difficulties in dealing with this type of experience, I recommend that you propose them equally because they will change their behavior in a positive way. Letting your dog continue to show discomfort without doing anything may greatly increase the problem over the years.
Here’s what you can do:
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- During your outings together, he sometimes passes by the vet’s office, where you’ll stop for a short stop during which you’ll cuddle him, give him his favorite game or give him food.
- Get your dog used to manipulation. An exercise that I propose very often during the courses of education at my center is to ask the owners to touch some “critical” points of the body of the dog, associating a positive reinforcement. If you think about it, why should a dog who does not let the owner touch the fingertips of a hind leg when he is well, have the same leg treated by a stranger (the vet) after a trauma, remaining calm?!
- When you take him to the doctor for a visit, keep him out of the clinic, if there is a small garden or space that allows you to and if the weather is good, so you can distract him by playing with him or just letting him walk. Otherwise, always bring with you some games and treats to offer in the waiting room.
- Respect the distances from other dogs to keep him calm and always use a cheerful and reassuring tone of voice: often the dog has more or less unpleasant memories related to that place and, moreover, the alarm pheromones issued by the other dogs present, if worried, indicate a dangerous situation for him.
- When you are in the clinic, lift it up on the bed just before the visit and place it back on the floor immediately afterwards. Do not start by physically restraining your dog, but introduce him to your vet first, get him in touch with you and only after a few minutes, suggest to your dog the useful positions to be visited, with a verbal rye or with the help of a titbit. It is essential that the vet approaches the dog letting him take the initiative of the contact and avoids stroking him on the head or bending his torso over the animal: it would not be a friendly way to introduce himself.
- At the end of the visit, before getting him off the bed, he showed great appreciation with his tone of voice and facial expression and rewarded him with prizes or his favourite game.
Obviously, if you’re dealing with a dog that already bites only if it comes into contact with the vet, then behavioral counseling from a figure experienced in behavioral re-education is the only wise advice I feel I can give you.
So don’t wait, clip the leash to your dog’s harness and start your walk where you’ll propose your first exercise, you’ll see that for your best friend visiting the vet will become a pleasant experience from now on!