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Doggie Training Tips for the Vet


From Puppy Petite:

Many a dog does not enjoy his trips to the veterinarian, and in some cases the visits cause great stress, anxiety, and even possibly panic for the dog.  There are ways to help prepare your pet for his visits to make them more enjoyable or at the very least, less stressful.

Ideally this process should begin when your dog is a puppy and be included as part of his puppy/dog training program.  These training ideas will greatly improve your dog’s view of the veterinarian.


  1. Socialization: It goes without saying that an overall regimen of socialization beginning the first week of having your dog and continuing throughout its life is vital to its over-all well being.  A dog that has been under-socialized is not familiar with common sights, sounds, people, animals, and things that comprise life.  Make sure your dog sees other dogs as part of the process, especially if he is an only dog.  There are always others dogs in the veterinarian’s waiting room.  Your dog should feel comfortable in the presence of other dogs, but he doesn’t have to want to actively play with them.
  2. Handling: If you purchased a puppy from a breeder, it is important to ask them how much handling the puppy has had.  A good breeder begins picking up, rubbing, laying them on their backs and rubbing tummies when they are just weeks old.  This process should continue when you bring the puppy home.  Make sure to hold/cradle him on his back, so he knows he is okay in a potentially uncomfortable position.  Also touch his toes, pet his tummy, hold his face, look into his ears, and put fingers into his mouth and look inside regularly and always reward in a positive way.  Older adopted dogs can also learn these handling techniques, but you may have to move at a slower process.  Always follow a dog’s comfort zone.
  3. Smells: One of the things many dogs fear about the veterinarian and associate with a visit is the medicinal smells of the place, namely alcohol.  Having alcohol smelling items occasionally around the home make it an unimportant item.
  4. Getting on things: Get your dog comfortable with being lifted onto tables or walking onto low items that replicate a scale.  It’s much easier to make this not a big deal before he has to do it at the vet’s.
  5. Re-associating the veterinarian: Don’t make the veterinarian the bad guy.  Instead, re-associate the clinic and staff with positive associations.  Ask your veterinarian if it would be okay to bring your dog in on a regular basis to say hi to the staff, do a weigh-in on the scale, and receive treats.  If he is used to going there and seeing the staff in a different light, he will be more trusting for procedures.
  6. Basic obedience: Although this is listed as #6, this is by no means unimportant.  Instead, all dogs should have basic obedience.  It is a bonding process full of useful commands, and it helps your dog to believe and trust in you.  If he is accustomed to following you with great reward, he will be more likely to trust you in a medical situation. 
  7. Crate training: If you have chosen not to use a crate for housetraining purposes, that is okay, but many pets will need to be comfortable with going inside a crate-like kennel for a short stay at a veterinarian.  This is much easier and less stressful to teach to a puppy than an adult dog.
  8. Separation: It’s great if your dog is always with you and has that opportunity, but you also need to get him used to the idea of you not being together.  Ask friends to hold his leash for you at times and give him independence by sometimes being alone.  This way, it is not nearly as frightening when it happens at a veterinarian for a procedure.
  9. Car rides: A dog should have regular rides to ensure he doesn’t only get in the car when he goes to the veterinarian. 
  10. Training You: Lastly, and one of the most important parts, is training yourself to view the veterinarian differently.  Dogs are able to intuitively sense what we feel.  If we are rushed and in a hurry, this might be perceived as something is wrong and we need to leave.  Instead, practice making appointments relaxed and light-hearted.  Dogs will often pattern our behaviors making it easier for him to relax too.


These ten training ideas will not only help your dog deal with his veterinarian visits, but it will also help to make him a much more well-rounded dog and canine citizen in the community.  These are some of the skills that will help him in all areas of his life, but it will certainly make the veterinarian look more like a friend than a foe. 

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