Working as a vet nurse for the past 7 years has taught me a lot about animal behaviour and handling. The more i learn the more aware i become of the level of stress many pets experience the moment they come through the door at a vet clinic.
Through my involvement with Puppy Preschool, Adolescent Training, and Obedience Club I am often recommending and teaching people how to practice handling their dogs to better prepare them for visits to the vet. People often don’t realise that vet visits don’t have to be big dramas, and that it doesn’t take a lot of work to teach a new pet to enjoy being handled! And it isn’t just dogs we can prepare for the vet either.
Dogs and cats will benefit from being taught to enjoy:
- Having their ears handled
- Having their paws picked up, held, and manipulated
- Having their tail handled
- Having their body and belly stroked and massaged
- Having their mouths open
- Sitting and settling on a table or raised surface
- Stepping onto and sitting on a raised surface (dogs – for the scales)
A dog or cat that has previously been exposed to this sort of handling will have a much easier time during their vet visit that one who is rarely handled in these ways. They will also be easier to check over if they get a prickle in their paw, or another minor injury you might want to check.
Birds will benefit from being taught to enjoy:
- Stepping onto a t-perch on some scales
- Going in and out of their carry cage
- Being wrapped and held in a towel (gradual process)
- Having their feet picked up and handled
- Having their wings handled
Birds that are familiar with being handled in these ways are much more relaxed during a veterinary check up, plus you will be able to do some of their routine care (like nail trims) easily at home.
It is important when introducing your pet to new handling that you take it nice and slowly, and reward them for calm behaviour with each step in the right direction. Use lots of yummy treats, and don’t be afraid to take treats with you for vet visits too. Speak to your vet clinic as most will be more than happy for you to come in during a quiet period to do some training with your pet. It helps your pet to relax if they sometimes visit the vet just for cuddles, treats, and training.