Bringing your dog to the vet or groomer is a bit like bringing a child to the dentist: it’s important, it’s necessary, but most of them don’t like it. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It may take time and patience, but there are some very tangible ways that you can help turn your furry child’s worst nightmare into the best day ever!
One of the most important things we can do is get our dogs used to being handled. Handling involves getting a bit more up-close and personal than petting. An enormous portion of what both groomers and vets need to do to keep your dog healthy involves some form of handling. Groomers will clean your dog’s ears, clip their nails, shave their sanitary region, or brush their teeth. Vets will take your dog’s temperature, draw blood or give shots, conduct physical examinations, and countless other things. One of the best things you can do is get your dog used to being handled and make sure that they don’t see this as a negative thing.
If you have a puppy, you have a blank slate to start with, so make sure that you regularly do little things like touching their paws, looking inside their ears, checking their gums and then rewarding them with a treat so that they get used to this. If you have an older dog, you may have to be a bit more patient if they already have certain sensitivities based on bad past experiences or having never been handled like that before. Many of the same methods for socializing an older dog may come in handy.
Stop by for a friendly visit
Groomers and vets are all fellow animal lovers, so chances are that they will be very understanding if you want to bring your dog by every once in a while just to say hello. Bring some of your dog’s favorite treats with you and let your groomer/vet give one to your dog while they pet them and say hi. Doing this will help your dog learn that going to the groomer/vet isn’t always a stressful experience, and it will also help build trust between your dog and the people helping your dog live his best life.
Take a walk beforehand
We all know our dogs love walks, and walks can be a powerful tool for helping your dog stay calm in a stressful situation. If you walk your dog before going to the vet or groomer, they will have less energy, which also means less nervous energy. A long walk won’t fix all of your dog’s anxieties, but it can help keep them a bit calmer during their appointment.
If you have concerns about your dog’s anxiety, talk to your vet or groomer about it. This is a common occurrence for them, and chances are they will want to help both you and your dog have as good an experience as possible.