Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Prepare Your Pup for Vet Visits" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

Prepare Your Pup for Vet Visits

By Charlotte Peltz

Very often a pup's first outing is to see the vet. There she is probed, poked and then stuck with a needle that may well result in a stinging sensation. It can hardly be surprising that the next outing begins with carsickness, and then, whining and crying as you enter the vet's office.

But there are things you can do to make all of this a much better experience for your pup. It is ideal if you can arrange a visit to the vet without any of the scary, and often unpleasant, things that I have mentioned. Yes, I do realize the danger of unvaccinated pups out on the street, but there are ways to manage that if you try. A few pats and scratches and some treats that you bring for the vet and staff to hand out will go a long way towards making the second visit easier.

Other things you can do to make the experience better is to teach your pup how to be handled and, particularly, in the way that the vet will surely do. Touching the pup all over, as you allow her to nibble on a tasty treat, makes a wonderful association in that tiny brain. Teach her to allow you to feel around in her mouth and work up to being able to open it to examine her teeth. Most people do not realize the importance of checking those teeth to be certain that the baby teeth actually do get pushed out by the permanent teeth. Ears need to be cleaned regularly and that starts with simply touching, stroking, probing and eventually carefully using a damp cloth to actually clean the ears. If you make the experience pleasant -- use lots of treats, life will easier for all of you.

Belly rubs are a good way to get the pup to feel comfortable on her back and side, which often facilitates various procedures and examinations. Be certain to put a cue word with the behavior when it is established. Include having the dog accept all these procedures both on the floor and elevated as would happen on the vet's examination table.

Before she needs really invasive procedures, teach her to accept restraint such as would be necessary to take a blood sample. That could include holding her head close up under your chin while you extend her front leg with a grip on the elbow. Do not force these restraints on her or you will defeat the whole purpose of these recommendations. Progress as slowly as she requires to accept the positions and pressures that you have to exert. Learn to take her temperature in the calm, familiar setting of your home so that she accepts that simple procedure in strange smelling, new surroundings with total strangers.

When your pup is anxious do not attempt to console her with strokes and sweet talk. All that does is praise her for her fears and unacceptable behavior. Instead, make a note of what is bothering her and plan to train for the future. If you are calm and prepared you can make your pup's experience matter of fact and make your vet's job ever so much easier.

It is not your vet's place to teach your dog how to behave in his office and, frankly, vets rarely have any practical experience or training in the field of canine behavior! Worse yet -- any force that takes place is sure to make the next visit even worse.

While this advice is directed to prevention by teaching your pup before there are negative experiences, an adult dog can also learn to behave without fear when visiting the vet. It may well take a lot longer to gain the dog's confidence in what have been unpleasant and even painful experiences, but it can be done. Keep in mind that dogs that are not socialized, never get out of the house except to go to the vet, are at the worst possible disadvantage and, in addition to their fears, they are often dangerous to all who must handle them.

Do your dogs a favor and teach them the important lessons on how to get along in this world.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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