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Acceptable Behavior at the Vet's Office for Dogs and Dog Owners

Updated on September 14, 2009

Vet visits may cause tension in many dogs

Not many places are dreaded in a dog's eye as the infamous vet's office. You can literally almost smell the tension in the air as you witness dogs with tails between their legs, literally shivering, and with large eyes full of fear. These poor canines after all, are right to be scared, with their sensitive noses they may smell blood, fear, illness and even death. To make things worse, quite fearful dogs release anal gland secretions which other dogs detect causing them to become tense and quite fearful as well.

So even the most composed dogs may eventually misbehave in a quite tense setting as the vet's office. Yet, owners may really do a lot to help their canine friends behave and make the vet visits more pleasant.  Following are some considerations dog owners should keep in mind each time the dreaded vet appointment is right around the corner.

-Make Vet Visits Pleasant

It may sound easier said than done, but ultimately it can be accomplished. First and foremost, getting the dog used to the vet since the dog is a puppy may be very helpful. The puppy should be praised lavishly and greeted by staff in order to make the puppy love the clinic. Adult dogs may benefit from ''fake vet trips''. In other words, the dog is taken there, greeted by the staff and praised but no office visit takes place. This will help the dog associate the vet with a positive experience when the real vet visit takes place.

-Play Doctor When Possible

Every now and then, play doctor with your dog or ask for a friend to play the role. Put your dog on the table and mimic all the things the vet does. Make sure your dog allows to have the mouth checked, body touched all over and stands still will out putting up a struggle. Always praise your dog for behaving. You can also mimic a shot by taking an empty needle or a pencil and pinching the dogs skin lightly to mimic the dreaded injections. Always  praise good behaviors. 

-Socialize Your Dog

Generally, the more social your dog the better he will behave at the vet's office. You want a dog that gets along with other dogs and people because not in many settings will your dog get in contact with other people and dogs in  such a small area. However, some dogs may really not be able to get along with all dogs.

-Walk Your Dog

A tired dog is a good dog. Before taking your dog to the vet take your dog for a very long walk. This will help release tension and allow the dog to be a bit more relaxed.  Walking your dog should also stimulate your dog to go potty so there are less chances of accidents at the vet's office.

-Stay Away From Crowds

If the office is over crowded, it is best to simply keep your dog out or wait in the car. Too many dogs and people in a small office building may be asking for trouble. Dogs are always animals and a fight may erupt just because one dog is getting too close to another.  Also consider that there may be cats as well, and not all dogs are cat friendly.

-Keep the Leash Short

A loose leash or a retractable one are the wrong choices in an office setting. You must keep your dog under control at all times. Your dog may be friendly but not all dogs are the same and pulling to go meet another dog may be asking for trouble.  So keep the leash short and your dog under control. Also, do not allow your 120 pound dog to jump on the vet and staff, this is considered rude behavior.

-Watch for Body Language

There are many cues a dog may send through body language that may alert owners before it is too late. Do not allow your dog to stare at other dogs since in a dog's eyes this is a sign of challenge. If your dog growls and bares teeth leave the office, to prevent aggression problems. 

-Muzzle if Nervous

If your dog is too nervous or fearful of the vet, better be safe than sorry and muzzle your dog. Even the sweetest dogs may lose it when confronted with pain and fear. 

-Stay Calm

Often dogs feel exactly what their owners feel. Chances are that if you are tense and nervous at the vet your feelings will travel from the leash to your dog. If you maintain a calm and assertive attitude your dog will very likely pick up on that  and be more prone to behaving. Always remember to praise your dog for being good.

As seen, there are several ways to allow your dog to exhibit acceptable behaviors at the vet's office. The better behaved your dog, the more impressed the vet and staff will be, allowing your dog's vet appointments to be a positive experience for all. 


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    • nekovet profile image

      nekovet 7 years ago from Here (most of the time. but am known to travel to There as well)

      Quite a good article.

      I agree this would be a good article for owners to look over.

      I also appreciate the part where you mention that muzzling might be worthwhile for nervous dogs. I realize it is a sensitive subject and I find some people seem to take the vet's recommending a muzzle to be shameful/etc. But really I don't beleive that is the case, it is merely a safety precaution.

      I can say I only muzzle when I feel there is a risk, because at the end of the day no one wants anyone to be injured (myself or the owner).

      As well as a vet, I always appreciate when owners mention if their dog is naughty/nervous/etc. before we begin. In those cases, I do check if the owner thinks we need a muzzle or not (I always feel they have a fair idea of the animal's possibly reaction to my examination) With this query, I have had owners advise that I muzzle their dog, which again as I do like my fingers and don't really want to make the experience any more 'intense' for my patient, I appreciate.

      I feel these visits tend to go more smoothly and if you are aware of an animal's anxiety, you can address it.

      As well, it avoids that 'mini-crisis' moment you have when someone doesn't mention anything, poorly restrains their pet, and I nearly have my face removed for me. Which of course is a hyper-emotive moment that surely does not benefit the dog's nerves at all.

      Thank you for an interesting and worth-while article.

    • profile image

      theresa4lee 7 years ago from tn

      pretty useful info thtnk I'll have to try some of these tips.I have a 70 lb chow/shephard male mix who really isn't to fond of vets office.Just getting him in the door can be a bit of a challenge for me unless my husbands there.The only time he wasn' a problem is when a copperhead bit him in the nose and even though they gave him a shot in the bite (he was muzzled)he didn't growl or put up a fuss. I just figured mabey somehow he knew the vet was trying to help him

    • Suki C profile image

      Barbara C 8 years ago from Andalucia, Spain

      I'm surprised that there aren't a load more comments on this very useful hub.

      I think copies of it should be made available to all vet's surgeries to be printed out, placed on the wall and handed out to all clients!

    • Jaspal profile image

      Jaspal 8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice hub - I've never had to muzzle any dog, but no dog likes the vet, no matter how nice he might be and how much he might fuss over it.