It's practically a cliché: all dogs hate the vet, and the best you can do is drag them there bodily when there's no choice. Right?
Not necessarily! It's actually pretty straightforward to train your puppy to tolerate (and perhaps even enjoy) their trips to the vet. You'll both be happier, and your vet will thank you for it too. After all, it's much easier to carry out a check-up or perform a procedure when your patient isn't whining, wriggling and trying to fight you every step of the way. If you want to help the newest addition to your family have as happy, healthy and stress-free a life as possible, read on.
Make occasional drop-ins a normal part of your dog's routine.
This is perhaps the most important of all the tips on this list. If your veterinary surgery of choice is anywhere near your home or usual dog walking routes, you can take advantage of that! One of the main reasons dogs often hate the vet is that they have only negative associations with it: it's a place they only go when it's time to be poked, prodded, injected and generally disturbed. Most vet staff love a chance to see happy animals, though. Pop into your vet surgery every so often just to say hello, buy some treats and have your puppy hop on the scales. This way, they'll learn that it's a good place, and as an added bonus you'll be able to track their weight as they grow to full adult size.
Be generous with high-value treats.
For most dogs, nothing builds good associations faster than their stomach! When you go to the vet, be sure to bring their favourite treats with you — the truly high-value things like liver or cheese that they only get on special occasions. If you're attending for a procedure however check with your vet before treating your pooch, especially to anything rich; they may need your dog to have an empty stomach.
Take a holistic approach to dog training.
Good manners, good behavioural control and a solid sense of commands like 'settle' are all transferrable skills. The training you do with your dog in other situations can also be of great help when getting them accustomed to the vet clinic — so do some general work on helping your dog to be calm and relaxed in a whole variety of situations. Puppy lessons are particularly good for this, and your vet can probably recommend a local class — why not ask on one of your habituating drop-ins?
For more information, contact a vet near you.