Going to the vet can be a very stressful event for your pet. They typically don’t go very often and when they do they get poked and prodded and sometimes it can hurt. Pet’s can begin to associate this event with an uncomfortable experience and their anxiety level can increase dramatically but with a little pre-planning and training you can help your pet actually enjoy a visit to the Vet. Clicker training can be a great positive training tool to help you implement this strategy.
These skills can be used for both dogs and cats. We’ve had a great experience training our dog Foster to love going to the Vet. Here are some helpful tips that worked well for him!
Practice some typical vet procedures at home. Touch their paws (both front and back) and just click and treat for every paw touch. Gradually extend the time you’re touching each paw and add a little pressure too. Gently restrain your pet by wrapping your arm around their neck and holding this position for gradually longer periods of time. Click and treat when you’re done each time. Take a metal spoon and use this like the Vet uses a stethoscope – click and treat for each body touch.
Bring a special mat to the Vets. A yoga mat is perfect to train with. It’s portable, unique and more comfortable for your pet then the tile floor. Just train certain behaviors at home (e.g. sit, down, stand, etc) on their mat at home and then have them repeat these same skills at the Vet’s office. This will give them the confidence to relax in the office. It’s great to use on the scale too as the metal surface can be scary for some dogs. Plus you can use the mat when you’re traveling too.
Teach an alternate behavior like Targeting. This is a fun foundation skill for your pet to learn. You can use it in all kinds of situations to help them have fun, feel confident and reduce their anxiety levels. To learn more about Target Training click here! http://www.clickertraining.com/node/289. Sit, Down, and Touch/Targeting are all calming signals for your dog so they will gain confidence as well as more easily relax in this environment.
Schedule a few “Friendly Vet Visits”. Make a few trips to the vets for no other reason then to say hi, have the staff give your pet a few treats and have your pet demonstrate some skills in the waiting room on their mat. No poking or prodding allowed! Just a nice friendly visit so your pet has good positive experiences with all of the sights, sounds, surfaces and smells in the office.
With a little bit of preparation and training you can help your pet enjoy their wellness visits to the Vet’s Office and make it a fun and positive experience.