Summer is well under way and we have been seeing a big increase in the number of new puppies coming in. Bring them on! This is what we’re here for! BUT!! Imagine our sadness when a client brings in a new puppy and it’s terrified of us and everything in our building. This isn’t what we want at all. How can we blame them though? They just got a new family, now a ride in a car, they probably have a leash and collar on for the first time and they were brought to this new building with so many new smells, sights and sounds. It’s actually quite surprising that all new puppies aren’t afraid when they get here.
What can you do about it though?
All sorts of things!
Here is our guide to preparing your puppy for their vet visits:
- IT STARTS AT HOME. Practice having them wear a collar and/or harness. Just having a collar/harness on (with out a leash attached), can take some time for them to get used to. Many of them kick and scratch at it. (Do not leave them unsupervised with a harness on. Puppies love to chew and they will easily start to rip apart that new harness you just bought.) Try and make it fun for them to wear their new equipment; offer treats, play with a toy, give them a bone to chew on. Basically distract them so they get used to the feeling but are not entirely focused on it.
- Next is the leash. Once they are comfortable with a collar on, attach the leash. Don’t pull on it though. Have treats with you ahead of time. Let them get used to the weight of the leash attached. Use your treats and lure them so they start walking with you. If they stop, just wait. You can try encouraging them by saying something like “Pup, pup, puppy!” but again don’t pull them. You can even use a toy to lure them along, squeaky ones seem to work really well. Soon enough they will be trotting right along with you.
- Use calming pheromones like D.A.P. or Sentry brands. They both have collars that last for 30 days. We would recommend using pheromones as soon as you get your puppy. Have a blanket sprayed with it for their first ride home.
- Take them for a few short rides before bringing your puppy to the clinic. Make sure it’s an enjoyable experience. Take a peanut butter filled Kong with. Using a crate or seatbelt for your puppy is also highly recommended for your safety and theirs.
- We mentioned bringing a stuffed Kong but you should also bring lots of little training treats that your dog really loves. You can offer these in the lobby while you wait, for getting on the scale and during the exam.
- Practice an exam at home ahead of time. Touch their ears and feet, lift their lip and look at their teeth. Remember to always use treats for this and go slowly. If they are trying to leave, you are moving too fast for their comfort and you need to slow down the process a little.
- Having problems? Ask for help! We are lucky to have two trainers right here at the clinic. It’s better to correct the issues you’re having right now, before your puppy gets older and it’s harder to fix. Please call to ask questions or maybe set up some training sessions. After all, training starts as soon as you bring your puppy home.
When you come for your first visit:
- Make sure you take everything: puppy, collar and 6ft leash (no retractable leashes please), treats and/or toys, their paperwork if they have any.
- Protect them! The veterinary clinic is not a place to socialize your puppy with other animals. Many animals are very stressed when they come in. They may be friendly during normal circumstances but at the vet clinic, they deserve their space. There is also the possibility of spreading illnesses. Your puppy is much more susceptible to picking something up while they are young and not fully vaccinated.
- Have patience. Do not expect your puppy to know what they know at home. Sure they can listen to their name and sit on cue in your living room but here, with all of the distractions, probably not. That’s okay! If your stress level goes up, so will theirs.
- Do not scold them. It’s just another reason for your pet to not trust the vet clinic. All they think is “Every time we come to this scary building and I bark at the scary people my owner gets mad too. This must really be a bad place.”
- Everything is going to be new for them during their first visit. If they weren’t nervous in the lobby the next stop is at the scale. Be sure your puppy has a good experience here. Many people either pick their puppy up and place them on the scale or try to pull them on to it. Luring them on to the scale usually works best. Letting them choose to follow some yummy treats on to the scale and then getting a jackpot of treats once they are completely on will be a really good learning experience for them. Many of them remember the scale and at their next visit they hop right on.
As always, we are here to help. Any questions, call us at (906)485-6145 or email us at [email protected]