A dog that startles at the mention of a vet visit and is anxious during the entire car ride might seem like it’s exhibiting misbehavior. If you’re struggling to get your dog to cooperate with you before, during, and after a trip to the vet, it’s time to find a solution that helps you, your pup, and your veterinarian. Learn how to calm your dog before a vet visit and you’ll establish a stronger bond of trust.
Don’t Mention the Word “Vet”
Dogs can understand the meaning behind your tone when you say “walk” or “outside,” and they can begin to associate “vet” with a negative experience. If your puppy is a language luminary, start using alternate words and change your tone to keep them from making an association with the poking and prodding of a vet visit. Don’t lie to your dog—you’ll get them over-eager without any reward.
Visit Your Vet Casually
If every experience your dog has at the vet is a negative one, they won’t calm down when they know where they’re going. Check with your veterinarian to see if you can visit them to help train your dog to remain calm during a real appointment.
Let the vet or the building’s secretary give your pup a treat and some pets and then leave. This will build a more positive association with the vet, keeping them calm for an appointment. Your vet could even provide more intensive desensitization training to get them used to the procedures around the office.
Car-Train Your Dog
Some dogs can’t stand car rides. If you’re struggling to keep your canine companion cool and collected during the car ride to the vet, it may be a good time to car-train them. The Barker Lounge, a dog daycare and boarding service, has a thorough, trainer-approved guide to car-training your dog, whether it’s a quick trip to the vet or a lengthy road trip.
Once your pup can handle the ride, you can work on calming them before seeing a vet. Keeping them in a crate during car rides can make them feel comfortable and keep them safe in a worst-case scenario.
As mentioned earlier, dogs may have associations with different tones and body language you display. The most important advice for how to calm your dog before a vet visit is to remember to keep yourself calm as well. If you stress out, your dog will pick up on it and their anxiety will spike. Even if you’re making an emergency visit to the vet, keep your tone soothing.
Making your dog calm down before a vet visit is more difficult for some dog owners than others—some dogs may have an anxiety disorder that complicates things. If you struggle with finding the right solutions to calm your dog down, your vet may be able to help with a prescription or a house call. Be sure to ask your dog trainer or veterinarian for extra assistance with a more difficult dog.