We love our dogs and want what is best for them. Sometimes this means a trip to the veterinarian’s office or the groomer. Unfortunately, many dogs hate visiting these places because they end up being handled, poked and prodded. They also frequently have to undergo procedures that seem frightening or invasive. Keeping your dog calm during these visits can be difficult, but with proper preparation you can minimize your pet’s discomfort and stress.
Prepare in Advance
Going to the veterinarian or groomer usually involves a car ride. If your dog only goes on a car ride when they are going somewhere unpleasant, they will soon hate being in the car. Make sure you take your dog on car rides to enjoyable places on a regular basis so they won’t be stressed every time you put them in the car. Take your dog to the dog park, to a play date or to visit the pet store for a new toy in between trips to the groomer and vet so they will look forward to car rides.
Visiting the groomer and vet in between appointments can also help. Take your dog in and let the employees pet him, praise him and give him a treat or two so that he begins to associate these places with fun. Let him sniff around, explore and get comfortable with the location so that when he has to go for a grooming or medical visit, he isn’t instantly tense.
Get Your Dog Used to Being Handled
Many dogs are apprehensive when others have to take their temperature, examine them, clean their ears, clip their nails and other forms of handling. These procedures are more intrusive than being petted and often cause pets anxiety because they aren’t used to them. If you regularly touch your dog’s feet, look in his ears and handle him as a vet or groomer would, he will be less anxious when someone else handles him.
Tire Your Dog Out
Wearing your dog out with a long walk or some active playtime before a visit to the groomer or vet can help him stay calm. While it won’t alleviate all his anxiety, he will not have as much nervous energy to exhibit, making it easier for others to handle him.
Let Him Take His Favorite Toy
Many dogs have a favorite toy or blanket that soothes them when they are stressed. If you dog has such an item, take it along for any visits to the vet or groomer. The familiar scent, texture and reassurance of holding on to their favorite item will reassure them and help them feel more at home.
Praise and Treats Help
Make sure you give your dog lots of praise and reassuring pats when at the vet or groomers. Making sure he knows he’s a good boy will go a long way in calming them. Of course, treats are a great way to let him know this. Take a handful of training treats or other small treats with you and either give them to your dog yourself or let the groomer or handler give them to him. A tasty treat given when a shot is administered also distracts your pet from the momentary discomfort.
Consider Calming Supplements
As a last resort, some dogs need prescription anxiety medications, but there are also calming supplements that don’t require a prescription. Brands such as Rescue Remedy’s Stress Relief drops and VetriScience’s Composure supplements can provide relief from anxiety if given to your dog about a half-hour to an hour before visiting the groomer or veterinarian. They are both holistic, all-natural formulations that don’t have unpleasant side effects.
If your dog continues to exhibit excessive anxiety after you’ve tried these suggestions, it may be time to talk to your veterinarian about other options. For most pets, however, the tips above will reduce your dog’s anxiety and make visits to the vet or groomer more pleasant for everyone involved.
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