Vet Visits always difficult
Why is it that most of the dogs being taken to the vet are so hard to handle, and therefore in some cases not even receive treatment?
The answer really lies in their negative prior experience going for a vet visit- or even lack of it all together.
We see dogs being scared of the whole scenario. The place itself, the vet, the staff and maybe you, once you have tried unsuccessfully to make your dog hold still when treatment could be just as simple as getting a shot.
They are taken to the vet when it is absolutely necessary, and then something hurtful is going to happen for sure.
Dogs as potential vet clients should be training for a vet visit before the real test. It will make the serious case so much easier on everybody, the dog, the vet, you and the staff.
Make some time to go for a vet visit just for training purposes. Nothing happens, but all the good stuff. Your dog gets to the office and all the treats are provided as soon as he gets out of the car, as soon as he enters the office, as soon as he sees the guy / girl wearing scrubs….
All these new impressions within the new environment should be associated with most positive things!
An association is mainly created when one event follows the other. Be careful not to lure the dog in a direction of a scary object or person with a treat or toy. If you do, the lure could be associated with something negative (scary) and you might loose the positive image of it. If the dog is suspicious or afraid of an object, don’t try to get him closer to it! Just be at a distance to where he just realizes the object or person. Once he looks at it, feed him or play with him, whichever reinforcement is most desired by him. You aim to manipulate his feelings. This is not to be compared with actually training a behavior.
So don’t be afraid to provide good things at this point. You are NOT reinforcing him being scared!
Anything he does in order to avoid getting closer to the scary subject is based on emotions. Fear is an emotion. If we can manage to change the emotion /fear into a more positive emotion – the fear based behavior will seize.
If you follow those principles, you will see that he relaxes more and more.
Let me elaborate just a tiny little bit more by giving you a human example.
The child is afraid of the car. Keep it at a distance as to where the emotions do NOT create panic, but where the child is recognizing the car is there. Give it some candy, and more candy. Now every time the child looks at the car, more candy is coming. Pretty soon the child might even take a step toward the car…more candy. Once it gets more and more confident about the car, provide the candy in a way that the child might have to stretch its neck toward the car in order to reach the candy!
Concentrate on pure manipulation of feelings. It is highly recommended not to say anything during the process.
The same procedure is recommended for the vet staff to touch the dog and/or getting the dog to feel good about any kind of instrument predictably being used on him.
The exam table, same procedure. If you place the dog on the table and he is too scared to take a treat, you already know that restraining him, or doing anything to him in general, will be a disaster. The staff could give the treat if the dog is confident enough. If not, do not force the issue. Go back to the procedure described above. Looking at the person , or even accepting the touch, – you provide the reinforcer!
Special THANKS to Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson Arizona , Dr Richard Livingston and his staff for being helpful and supportive with all our needs to be a successful Breeder of German Shepherds in Tucson!