Taking your dog to the animal hospital is part of life, be it for an annual checkup or a sudden and urgent situation, but when your pooch is paranoid of going, these visits can be chaotic or even dangerous. Both small and large breeds can nip or bite painfully at people or resist strongly enough to harm themselves, creating a very frustrating situation for you. You do have options; however, and they don't have to be forceful and imposing. In fact, you and your dog can actually have a little fun.
1. Drive-By Training
If your dog is like most, they love a ride in the backseat of your car, with the window open just enough to fit the snout. Start by driving your dog in the vicinity of the vet's office, so he learns that it's okay to be in the neighborhood. He may try to fit himself under the seats and cower in fear at first, but soon, he'll understand that this is more about enjoying the ride than doing anything he's against. Eventually, you can try pulling right into the animal hospital, gauging your dog's reactions each time. Park and pet him, offering him a small treat and lots of reassurance that everything is okay. While he should only need to actually enter the building once or twice a year, if you make this fun drive every Saturday afternoon, he's going to focus more on the fun and eventually, not really mind when you pull into that parking lot.
2. Walking Away The Worries
Dogs love to walk and it's good exercise for you, too, so drive the two of you near to the veterinary clinic and put the dog's leash on. He should get very excited about the walk, right up until the point where you arrive at the vet's parking lot. Walk right by, though, as if it isn't even there, talking up a storm of praise for your pet the entire time. Use his favorite words and call him by all the pet names you have for him, allowing him to absorb the love and be distracted by the affection. Continue to pass the dreaded parking lot until your dog seems more comfortable and you think he's ready to circle the building.
Although he may act nervous on the grounds of the clinic, he should be kept busy by you, with calming conversation and plenty of rubs behind the ears. This walking ritual should introduce your dog to the concept that there's fun stuff going on around the animal hospital, not just clinical poking, prodding and pinching. It may take a few rounds before he calms down, but in the meantime, you'll both be getting a healthy walk.
3. Enlisting The Help Of A Human Friend
If driving by and walking just take you to the brink of better behavior, but your dog still freaks out at the thought of going through the entrance doors, enlist the help of a human friend the dog will be happy to see. Ask them to greet your dog at the door, where he should be pleasantly surprised and momentarily distracted from fears and anxieties. Get all excited to see your friend, too and let the dog enjoy the encounter as if it were spontaneous. Your friend can then sit with you and the dog in the waiting room, patting him, saying his name often and acting like it's just a big, happy reunion.
This may seem like a lot to ask of a friend or family member who leads a busy and hectic life, but anyone who knows and cares about your dog should be honored to help him get over his fears and be a better patient. Creating a normal and positive environment at the normally nerve-racking animal hospital should ease your dog's anxieties and at some point, help him get his hyper self under control.
If you've tried everything to get your dog to accept going to the vet as a normal part of life and he still resists with fervor, you may want to consider a prescription remedy. The staff at your animal hospital doesn't want to be greeted by a snarling, anxious and out-of-control canine anymore than they want you to experience the accompanying distress. While training works for many, it may not for you, so ask about a mild sedative that will make your pooch calm enough to get through the visit, without any incidents.
Contact a clinic, like Cats Only Veterinary Hospital, for more help.