What to do when your dog acts up at the vet

Oct 8, 2019 | Tips and Tricks

Soooo…..I took Jake and Maggie to the vet last night to get their preventative shots for Lyme disease and they acted as if they had never had a day of training in their lives!!  I could see the vet tech looking at me and I knew what she was thinking…get your dogs under control!!!  

“On the way to the vet…and below…after the vet”


What to do when your dog acts up at the vet:

  • Play doctor: Come up with a game where you get your dog to lie down and pretend to look in his ears, his mouth, feel his legs, as if you are performing a checkup.
  • Talk to your vet about scheduling a practice visit:  If you are allowed, take your pet at a quiet time and just sit with him in the waiting room while the nurses chat with him, slowly building up to petting him.
  • Rewards: Throughout your dog’s training period, keep some treats on hand to reward him for obeying a command and generally exhibiting good behavior. Nothing gives motivation quite like a prize.

Things to look for when your dog is in distress at the vet’s office:

  • Lip licking
  • Pinned ears
  • Yawning
  • Panting or drooling
  • Low and tense body posture
  • Tail down as a show of warning away
  • Shaking, trembling, or fidgeting
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Inattentiveness
  • Avoidance to eye contact
  • Excessive whining
  • Growling

Keeping positive reinforcement at the vet:

  • Dog Toys: Bringing your dog’s favorite toy or blanket to use as a buffer against distractions.
  • Dog Treats: When your dog’s mellowed down and begins to listen to your verbal cues again, reward him for it.
  • Touch: Give your dog lots of attention by rubbing his chin, touching him, letting him know you are there.
  • Reassure your dog: Tell him “good boy” and sound re-assuring followed by a treat.
  • Don’t Worry: You will be reading your dogs body language and your dog is also reading yours.  He can sense when your anxiety level is high and then will react to it in a negative way.  Stay calm and your pet will sense your relaxation.

It is so important to not only be calm, have a calm, relaxed and well behaved pet, but a vet who is compassionate and can recognize the high anxiety levels and know what to do.  In some cases, such as ours, it takes a lot of practice.  I will be calling the vet tomorrow to set up a “fake” appointment but I think taking the dogs separately might be the trick???  I’ll let you know!  After our appointment, I worked with the dogs with correction and positive reinforcement.  They were worn out and were asking me at 9:30 pm to go to bed!  They both watched me put their favorite blanket on the bed and jumped up as soon as I said, “ok, go ahead”!  

Hope you enjoyed this post and if you guys have ever experienced any situations where your pet has acted up at the vet, I would love to hear how you handled the situation.  Maybe I can take some cues from you :-). 


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