Does your dog seem to inherently know when you are taking her to the veterinarian's office? From the outside looking in, the vision of a dog hiding under the bed, refusing to get in the car, and bracing against the leash at the office entrance is comedic content worthy of television. For those who have ever struggled to take an unwilling dog to the vet, however, the struggle is ridiculously annoying. It also begs the question of how your canine magically predicted that you scheduled a veterinary appointment.
As impressive as it may appear, your dog is not actually psychic. Your dog exhibits behaviors that make it seem as though psychic abilities are afoot, but there is actually much more at play.
The Car Has One Destination: The Veterinarian
If you only take your dog on car rides when you are going to the veterinarian's office, your dog will only associate car rides with these trips. Let's face it, once you have arrived, a stranger pokes and prods at your dog's mouth, skin, feet, even rectum--is it any surprise that your dog dreads this place? Veterinarians try to minimize the discomfort with pets and treats, but dogs do not know that the discomfort associated with the office is done out of love.
The fix: Take your dog on car rides more regularly. Go to the park, the pet store, or to a restaurant that allows pets. This will show your dog that the car is capable of going to fun places, too.
Your Dog Actually IS a Mind Reader
Your dog is more in tune with your emotions and behaviors than you might think. Take a good look at your pre-vet behavior. Do you coddle and soothe your "poor baby" because you feel bad about the discomfort and potential pain that your pet will endure? If so, your dog is intercepting your anxiety and concern. Your dog may not know exactly what kind of impending doom lies ahead, but your pooch can certainly sense that you--the pack leader--is worried about something. As a result, your dog is going to respond in a likewise anxious manner.
The fix: Stay upbeat. You are the pack leader, and your pet looks to you for guidance. If you are happy and carefree, your dog will think, hey, everything is under your control. If you are upset and anxious, on the other hand, your dog will worry too. Turn car rides and veterinary appointments into happy occasions, and your dog will mirror your confidence.
Your Dog is Socially Inept
Dogs are not naturally born as confident, well-adjusted social butterflies. What happens in the first few weeks of your dog's life will have an impact on how your dog behaves as an adult. If your dog did not have positive exposures to different people, places, and things during these formative weeks, your dog will not take kindly to new experiences today. This includes veterinary visits.
The fix: If your pet is still a puppy, make socialization a priority. You should also take your dog to your veterinarian during this time, even if you have not scheduled an appointment. As a result, your puppy will be more well-adjusted and confident as an adult. If you adopted a rescue or did not socialize your pet during the formative weeks, then all is not lost. Take the time to introduce your dog to new situations and new people, and keep all outings upbeat and positive. It may take more time, but even unsocialized and even previously abused dogs can gain confidence in new situations, including trips to the veterinary office.
For more information, contact Rivers Animal Hospital vet or a similar location.