And we know that the last appointment didn’t go so well. The dog was nervous about the car ride and salivated until he threw up in the back seat. He froze at the door of the clinic and it took two of you to push/pull or pick up and carry him into the office. He peed in the exam room, then growled at the tech. You were sweating bullets. The dog is healthy and needed no treatment except for one of his vaccines but you were both completely worn out and frustrated by the time you got home.
So, 6 months later the dog is ready for another vaccine or wellness check. You have a week of anticipation until the appointment. How can you make this visit a breeze?
1 – Continue with the touches I have discussed with you. They will help calm and de-stress your dog.
2 – Continue with the head wrap as a precursor to mouth work. Remember this is particularly potent work that will develop trust and focus. The limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions is best influenced by mouth work. By now your dog should be most willing to let your fingers work around his nose, in his mouth and along his gums.
3 – Practice the body wrap so it becomes second nature to your dog. I’m sure that you are seeing a change in his posture, movement and behavior during your practice sessions.
4 – If your dog needs to wear a muzzle in this type of high stress situation make sure you work with the muzzle and your dog insuring that the dog is not stressed by the muzzle itself.
5 – If getting in the car or riding in the car is problematic, take the dog for short rides with a body wrap – perhaps just around the block then return home with no consequence, nothing bad happening, just a lovely short ride with a reward, a toy or play time. The dog needs to learn that “go for a ride” is a joyous event.
On the day of the appointment, the dog willingly gets in the car (with body wrap) and gets to the vet with no incidence. Before you take your dog into the office, go in first and check out what is going on – lots of dogs? cats? or a more quiet atmosphere? Ask if you can go immediately to an exam room or to a quiet corner while you wait. Don’t let your dog visit other animals. After all, they may be sick and in no mood for a curios nose.
The work that you do prior to the visit will make all the difference in the experience, both for you and your dog. Teaching and guiding your dog through this situation will enhance his confidence and his ability to view the world as a safe place where he has no need to be fearful. Each situation will become easier and less stressful for both of you.