Does Your Dog Hate Going to the Vet? Here are 5 Things You Can do TODAY to Make it Better

My dogs were always fine going to the vet's office, until they weren't. Typically we did 'happy puppy' visits, used lots of food to distract them during exams and shots, and let the very friendly staff make a big fuss over them. That worked fine, until it didn't.

At some point in your dog's life he's likely going to need to have stressful and/or painful procedures done. You can usually get by with that the first time; but then the suspicion and concern start. With every visit it becomes more and more of a struggle to get your dog in and get the exam done. You find yourself needing to use more pressure, your dog is more distressed, and the cookies aren't working any longer. Now what?

Here are 5 things you can do TODAY!

#1: Commit to learning

 Commit to learning about and using positively based training methods to help your dog become more comfortable and relaxed during basic veterinary procedures. There's plenty of work you can do up front to make the entire experience more pleasant for your dog, and for everyone involved in his care.

You can learn more for free in my Facebook group "Cooperative Care with Deb Jones", through the videos on my YouTube Channel also cleverly called "Cooperative Care with Deb Jones". If you want a more detailed description and approach, take a look at my book "Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress Free Husbandry". 

#2: Set aside a short amount of time

Set aside a short amount of time every day to work on cooperative care behaviors such as being handled, looking in eyes and ears, examining teeth, and so on. Five minutes is enough, just be sure to block out the time daily. Longer sessions are not better. Daily consistency is what makes training effective.

#3: Choose a specific place

Choose a specific place in your house where you will work on husbandry behaviors. While I prefer a grooming table, any stable elevated surface will do. Elevated surfaces are common at veterinary offices. If that's not a possibility in your living space a few interlocking play tiles on the floor can serve the purpose of a dedicated space.

Photo by Barb Cerrito

#4: Identify and obtain 2 high value food reinforcers

Identify and obtain 2 high value food reinforcers that you will use exclusively for your work in making vet visits more pleasant and enjoyable for your dog. Be generous with these reinforcers during your husbandry training sessions.

Meat flavored baby food delivered via syringe is a HUGE favorite for our dogs! Photo by Barb Cerrito

#5: Sign up for my online class "Yes Please! Canine Cooperative Care"

October 2021 term opens for registration September 22 at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Learn all sorts of new tips and ideas for helping your dog become more comfortable with veterinary care. This is a step by step systematic 6 week approach to teaching a variety of veterinary and grooming procedures. 

Here's an example of what we work on in class:

One of the best things you can ever do for your dog is to make necessary veterinary care as comfortable and stress free as possible!

E237: Shade Whitesel and Ann Smorado - "Getting Re...
Erin Lynes - "Dog Powered Sports with Erin Lynes"

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