Want a more enjoyable vet visit?
A few simple commands will help.
Everyone I know wants their dog to be a good veterinary patient. Alas, we don’t all get our wish, meaning we often dread the chaos of taking our dogs to see the veterinarian. In some cases, we may even put off veterinary care because it’s so stressful for the dog and for us.
However, at the very least, you can set your dog up for success by teaching him a handful of dog training tasks.
In addition to teaching your dog how to relax on cue, some basic dog obedience training can make a big difference by:
Allowing veterinary professionals to speak to your dog in a language he understands
- Giving your dog tools to comply with veterinary requests that make diagnosis and treatment easier
- Lowering stress levels for everyone involved
Dog Training Cues and Why They Help
Sit: Often dogs need to sit during veterinary examination or blood draws. Plus, it’s a polite behavior for waiting in the lobby.
Lie down: Veterinarians can do many procedures more easily with the dog lying down. It’s ideal, in fact, if you can teach your dog to lie flat on his side as well. This can be especially useful if the dog ever needs an abdominal ultrasound.
Stand: There are times when veterinarians need your dog to stand up and stand still during exam. Plus, having a dog be able to stand on cue saves a lot of wear and tear on the backs of veterinary professionals.
Stay: Clearly, holding still in whatever bodily position is required makes things easier. Dogs who are not constantly moving make better patients.
Wait: Wait comes in handy when veterinary teams need to take a dog out of a hospital kennel or outside, without the dog darting. This teaches dogs to wait for the okay before moving, in a shorter span of time than a true stay. For example, the dog needs to be leashed before leaving his cage, or maybe he needs to have an IV catheter capped before he can move.
Gentle/soft mouth: Teaching your dog to take treats gently makes giving medicines much safer. Dogs tend to become more shark-like when they are nervous, so if you teach a soft mouth from the get-go, it might tone down even stress-related mouthiness.
Feet handling tolerance: Even if your dog never injures a paw, a veterinary professional may need to pick up a paw in preparation for a procedure. It’s much easier to work with dogs who don’t flip out when people handle their feet.
Crate or cage training: If your dog ever needs to be hospitalized or confined at home during a medical recovery, crate or cage training comes in handy so that your dog isn’t overly stressed or frustrated by confinement.
Muzzle acceptance: There are any number of situations where an injured or fearful dog may need to be muzzled during veterinary exams, treatments, or procedures. If your dog learns that wearing a muzzle isn’t a big deal, then it’ll make these situations much safer and less stressful.
The key to all of these behaviors is consistency and positive associations with such requests. Dogs repeat behaviors that pay off – in one way or another. When your dog learns that good things happen when he complies with your requests, then he is more likely to do as he is asked, no matter where he is or who does the asking.
Share Your Ideas
Have you taught your dogs specific strategies or tricks to help them be a better veterinary patient?
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