Let’s Go to the Vet – Make Your Dog’s Trips to the Doctor a Pleasant Experience
By AKC GoodDog Helpline Trainer Christie Canfield
One of the earliest social experiences for a puppy is visiting the vet. Whatever happens in this critical time period can set the stage for later behaviors in life, so going to the vet should be a positive experience from the very beginning. If you have a new puppy or are trying to retrain an older dog, these tips will help make veterinarian office visits more enjoyable for you, your dog, and the vet staff!
Teach your dog to stand and stay: When your dog is in a sit or a down, take a treat, put it in front of his nose and slowly move it away from him, allowing him to follow it. As soon as your dog stands up, praise and give him the treat. To get him to stay in a standing position, reward for just a few seconds of holding still. Then gradually increase the time that he holds the stand until you reward. Once your dog is consistently holding the stand for several seconds, you can add the “stay” verbal command.
Accustom your dog to handling: Touch your dog all over and give him yummy treats. Be sure you lift the lips to check the teeth and mouth area, touch the ears inside and out, and lift each paw to massage between paw pads.
Go fun places in the car, not just the vet: Too many dogs only get to go for a car ride for a trip to the vet’s office. Make sure car rides are enjoyable by taking your dog out and about to lots of fun places.
Go to vet for a social visit only: Take your dog to the veterinarian between check-ups for an occasional social visit. Ask the staff to pet and give treats to your dog. Also, sit in the waiting room and feed your dog good treats for two to three minutes to acclimate him to the sights, sounds and smells of the office.
Give your dog treats during the visit: Take your dog’s favorite treats when you go to a veterinary appointment. Reward for calm behavior and allow him to nibble on the treats during uncomfortable procedures like vaccinations, blood draws, or fecal collection.
For more tips on making everyday life easier with your dog, our expert trainers at the AKC GoodDog! Helpline are available seven days a week for your calls: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org