1. Practice getting your pet used to handling by people. Try to touch their feet, tail, ears, mouth and bellies as often as possible to get them used to this. Also be sure to attempt to acclimate your pet to other people by letting them meet as many people as possible and having good experiences when doing so.
2. Practice traveling with your pet. For dogs, this means making sure they enjoy car rides. Take them with you to the park or to the clinic often so that they think the car ride will lead somewhere fun. For cats, this means acclimate them to the carrier by leaving it out in the house and feeding them in it. A lot of pets do best with less stimulation, so setting the carrier in the back seat facing the front seat and putting a towel over it to reduce what they can see often works best.
3. Plan frequent “social visits” to our veterinary practice just for fun, especially if your pet is fearful. It’s best for you to visit during a quiet part of the day, such as mid-afternoons. Call our practice and check to see if it’s a good, relaxing time so your pet enjoys a calm, experience and the veterinary team can focus on you and your pet.
4. Plan your practice visits in low stress situations before your pet needs care by visiting our parking lot, lobby and exam room so they’re familiar places. Bring your pet’s favorite toy or treat and use play and trick training to make the experience full of pleasurable activities. Your pet will learn to associate good things with the veterinary hospital. Rather than being afraid, they learn to relax.
5. On the day of the veterinary visits, be sure to bring your pet hungry so that they are more willing to accept treats from our staff and be rewarded for being here. Also consider using products like Feliway, Adaptil and Rescue Remedy to keep your cat or dog calm using pheromone scent and/or homeopathic remedies.
6. If you feel your pet needs extra coaching to help reduce anxiety in social situations, ask us for recommendations for dog trainers in our area.