Some dogs dread visits to the vet, associated in their minds with a stressful and unpleasant event, which can complicate the vet's examination of the dog. A dog in pain can also be difficult for the owner to care for on a daily basis, and even become difficult to touch without the dog possibly becoming aggressive. In order to be able to handle and care for the dog in the best possible conditions, “medical training” is recommended, as it allows dogs to accept these stressful situations while remaining calm. And the best technique remains rewarding him with food or treats he likes!
Socializing your dog
But before even talking about medical training, it is vital that your dog is socialized and comfortable around other human beings and dogs, so that visits to the vets, where he will meet people and possibly other dogs in the waiting room, do not cause him any added stress. A socialized dog will also be more willing to let the vet touch and examine him.
Educating your dog
Added to socializing, a basic dog education at the least is very useful for taking your dog to the vet's, so that you can get your dog to sit, stand, lay down, give his paws, and follow other commands when the vet requires it in order to examine your dog.
What is medical training for my dog?
“Medical training” refers to the training carried out with a dog to teach him to “participate” actively in routine care or handling tasks (inspection of the body, teeth, wound care, etc.) .
It is a practice that was first developed in zoos to facilitate the care given to wild animals and reduce the risk of aggression and stress.
The great gain of this type of practice is to avoid restraining the dog, which is an additional source of anxiety. The goal is for the dog to feel confident and to participate on his own accord in the examination.
As a human being presents his back, his arm, his hand to the doctor who treats him, a dog can perfectly learn how to do the same.
How is medical training useful for my dog?
The objective of medical training is to prevent your dog from being afraid during a visit to the vet and to be generally easier to handle at home in the event of care being administered at home.
It is important to make these moments positive and pleasant for the dog in order to reduce stress, as these situations of anxiety can in some cases, and depending on the individual, turn into aggression.
The more the dog is in a situation of well-being, the easier it will be to manipulate him during the examination, which will facilitate the task of the vet... and even yours, when you need to bring him to the practice for example! And it's something that can be learned easily.
There are several techniques to get your dog to show the desired behaviour on his own. In zoos, it is very common, for example, to use "target work": the animal must touch the target indicated with his paw and maintain contact. With your dog, that target could be your hand which usually brings comfort. This teaches him to remain attentive and calm during manipulation.
We can in this way teach dogs to, for example, open their mouths to facilitate dental examinations!
How to learn to handle your dog so that he is calm at the vet or during treatment?
It is well known, one of the best sources of motivation for an animal during learning remains food! Positive reinforcement is systematically accompanied by a reward, which can be a toy, a stroke or a friendly word, but also a very palatable treat for the dog.
In the context of the care of domestic pets, it is often vets trained in this practice who initiate it when they are faced with an animal that is anxious or difficult to approach during handling.
But it is highly recommended that owners acquire the basics of this method and apply it themselves with their dog at home, if only to administer daily care themselves with greater ease.
The goal is for the dog to feel that he is in control of the situation and that he is not being forced into anything. The vet who seeks to reassure a dog generally does so as soon as he enters the consultation room.
No coercion, especially do not force him to get on the examination table for example. The vet starts by gaining their trust. Friendly words, and above all, several treats given straight away, to “get to know each other”.
The dog is asked to get on the examination table, set at the lowest level. If he complies, he gets a treat! If he accept the touch of the hand... a treat. If he stays quiet during an injection, a blood test, an ear examination... a treat !
And so on, for any request from the vet that may seem invasive or stressful for the dog.
The golden rule: don't hesitate to give treats!
The owner can train his dog to do exactly the same thing at home in order to get his dog used to the practice. No need to do this every day, one or two sessions a week is enough.
Follow this training with games, play, spending time with your dog, cuddles, and always have your pockets full of treats!
What types of treats for my dog?
You know your dog well, so you know what his tastes and favourites are! It is up to you to determine what is most palatable for your dog and the most convenient for you depending on the situation (obviously pieces of sausage or cheese aren't as good to carry in one's pocket when going to the vet's as dried dog biscuits).
Homemade biscuits, meatballs, small pieces of dried meat, bits of cheese, everything is allowed, as long as it is not full of sugar or salt.
The important point is that the treat is given by hand, and gradually. The goal is to establish contact and show the dog that he is in a friendly and positive context.
Vet visits while at DogStroll DayCare Centre
For dogs attending the DogStroll DayCare Centre, we can take care of your dog's routine vet appointments, such as vaccinations, parasite control, etc on our own premises, with a local vet coming to the centre once a month. This is ideal to save you, the owner, time in your busy day, and ideal for dogs, especially anxious dogs, as they stay in a familiar friendly environment and get used to the same vet visiting regularly. The vet meets your dog on our premises, on your dog's terms, here below in our sensory gardens.