Visits to your veterinarian should be a pleasant experience for your dog, well most of the time. As a child, going to see the doctor wasn’t on my list of fun things to do despite getting a lollipop at the end of the visit. However, the more times I visited the doctor, the pain seemed to lessen as I kept my thoughts on that delicious sweet lollipop that would soon appear after the vaccination. Without knowing it, my parents were training me to associate the doctor with getting lollipops. Or perhaps, I should give them more credit that they knew exactly how to train me. But that’s another story. : )
In the above example, the only time I saw the doctor’s office and his staff was when I was sick and needed treatment which meant receiving shots or yucky pills and being exposed to strange instruments and surroundings. We can do one better with our dogs though. From the pup’s first health inspection till later in life we should make going to the veterinarian office a regular pleasant experience for our dogs. That means taking your pup in to be weighed (most vets have a scale in the lobby area so you can do it yourself) and getting tasty treats for being calm in the lobby and while meeting the veterinarian reception staff (if they’re not too busy with other clients) on days in which your pup isn’t being examined.
One of my training goals is to help your dog become adjusted to situations they may find in a veterinarian office such as lobby congestion with strangers and other dogs, being handled and examined by strangers, being introduced to strange instruments including nail clippers, etc. In a Basic Manners dog class, you will teach your dog to do a “Veterinarian Down Stay” which is quite helpful in keeping your dog calm and out of the way in a lobby setting.
In summary, the keys to making veterinarian visits as stress free as possible are to keep the socialization visits short, sweet and a pleasant experience for your dog. If you do this, your dog will soon come to view the veterinarian visits as pleasant experiences, …..well most of the time.