Getting to the clinic
Visits to the vet can be a worrying time for both you and your dog. One way that you can help ease anxiety is by helping your pooch to become comfortable with the journey to the clinic in advance.
For many owners, going to the vet involves driving. If your regular routine means a car trip is unusual, you might need to take a few measures to keep your dog relaxed and prepare him for the journey ahead.
If he is anxious about even getting into the car, try to make the process into a game that he can enjoy. Explore and play in the car with the engine off at first, offering a few treats as part of the game.
If you use a harness to keep him safe, introduce it to him alongside the engine noise. Build up positive associations with car travel by taking short journeys that end somewhere your dog enjoys. This could be a park or the countryside, for example. Then, take him home to a portion of his daily food.
If you prefer using a crate to a harness, but your dog is scared of the crate because he associates it with a trip to the vet, it’s really important to prepare him for getting into it ahead of the day of the appointment. Leave it around the house for a few days so he can familiarise himself with it over time. Create positive associations with the crate by putting treats or toys in it for him to find, and never shut your dog in the crate when he is getting used to it.
Young dogs in particular can sometimes experience travel sickness during car journeys. If he suffers from this, you can help by making sure he doesn’t have a full stomach when travelling – provide a light meal about two hours before the journey starts.
How you act around your dog on the day of the appointment can also have a big effect on him. Try to strike a balance between reassuring your dog, and behaving completely normally. Our canine friends are better than we think at picking up on our feelings, and making too much of a fuss can increase anxiety if your dog thinks something unusual is happening.
Read more about car travel with your pet here.
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