Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. Have you scheduled your puppy’s first veterinary visit? Puppies are works in progress, eager to explore their new world, but it takes a team to protect them.
Thankfully, a puppy’s “cute factor” makes it easy to forgive expected mistakes. But puppies need more than “cute” to protect their health. Make sure a puppy’s first veterinary visit comes early and is a happy experience. That sets you both up for a lifetime of love, in partnership with a caring health care team. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for your baby dog’s vet visit.
Practice Makes Perfect
Many puppies are happy to meet new people and places with wagging tails and happy woofs. That makes the veterinary staff happy, because they love baby dogs as much as you do.
But a clinic has different smells, sounds, and sights than your home, and the staff needs to touch puppies in very specific ways that can create puppy concern. A percentage of puppies are already a wee bit shy. One upsetting experience may turn confident pooches off veterinary visits, too. Here’s how to prepare for the big day.
Pet Your Puppy
Turn petting into practice for the exam, so the technician’s touch isn’t a stranger-danger experience. Pet as you normally would, but also gently handle his ears, for example. Lift up his tail, and briefly hold each paw. Make head-to-tail touch part of your evening routine for three to five days, and your baby dog will be more accepting of handling at the veterinarian office.
Make Car Rides Fun
Before your baby learns it’s something to fear, turn the car into a puppy palace of fun. Try sitting with your pup in the car, engine off, and play with a squeaky toy, for example. Or give Junior-Dog a squirt of aerosol cheese as someone else drives around the driveway. Make it a happy place, and your puppy will be less likely to fear the trip to the vet.
Schedule A Trial Run
Ask your veterinarian to schedule a “trial run” for your pup to visit the clinic and meet the staff. Visiting the clinic during a slow period for even five minutes in advance of the “real” exam sets Puppy up for success. He’ll learn that a car ride ends with admiring people eager to scratch and play with him, what fun! Two or more trial runs before the exam are ideal, but even one pre-visit helps enormously.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.