My Pet World: Simple solutions for a panicking dog at the vet’s office
I've adopted a one-year-old miniature schnauzer. When I take him to the vet, he panics by barking, not listening, and going into a rigid body posture. Any suggestions?
— Pat, Tolland, Connecticut
Your dog's reactions are normal but fear-based. There are things you and the vet's office can do to reduce his anxieties.
First, get your dog a pheromone collar, and spray some pheromones onto your clothing occasionally. Your dog will associate this with being happy and with you. Then, ask the office to spray pheromones in the exam room and on all the staff's clothing so your dog can associate those pheromones with his happy home.
Second, introduce over-the-counter calming products, like anxiety, CBD, or hemp chews. Put a few drops of Bach's flower rescue remedy into his water bowl. Try calming clothing, like a Thundershirt® or Anxiety Wrap®. (See the letter below on how to train them to wear it.) While these wraps were developed for noise-phobic dogs, they also help reduce anxiety and fear.
Finally, add more training to your dog's routine. Fearful dogs often feel like they need to protect their owners (they don't) while at the same time lacking confidence in how to handle the world around them.
Through training, you establish yourself as the pack leader, which communicates to your dog that he doesn't need to freak out in new situations and can stand down.
Sometimes, something as simple as positioning your dog behind you and not between you and the vet can signal to the dog that you have the situation under control. Training also builds your dog's confidence, making him a less fearful pup overall.
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