Keeping Your German Shepherd Calm at the Vets

keep dog calm at vetsGoing to the vet can be a scary and stressful time for German shepherd dogs. Not only are they being forced into an unfamiliar situation around other people and animals, but they may also be given shots or exams that startle or scare them. In some cases, it may be important for your veterinarian to administer treatment or to perform an exam, and during that time, it may be necessary to keep your German shepherd calm.


How to Ease Stress and Keep Your German Shepherd Calm Tips

  • Form a good relationship with your dog. If you and your dog are closely bonded, he is likely to feel more secure just by having you around.
  • Teach your dog the basic commands. Teaching your dog to respond to basic commands, such as sit, stay and come, is important for many reasons beyond simple training. It also gets your dog used to responding to you and your direction.
  • Get your dog used to being handled.  This is a biggie. It’s surprising how many people don’t handle their dog well. It’s always a good idea to encourage friends and family members to physically handle your new Shepherd instead of just petting him. Get them to examine his paws, his mouth and ears. As your dog gets used to being handled it will not be so stressful when the vet does the same. If your  new dog is skittish or shy, you may want to spend a few minutes each day just gently handling his ears and belly so he gets used to that kind of contact.
  • Take your dog to the vet before the first appointment. Bringing your dog in to meet the staff and to get a feel for the office before his first exam may help to relieve his anxiety the next time he goes. He will  remember the visit and know it was a “safe place” without any stress or anxiety.
  • Arrive a little early. Make sure you get to the vet early enough to give your dog a chance to sniff around outside and to do his business. Also going slowly and without rushing will keep him calm and relaxed. Dogs pick up on your state of mind don’t forget. If you get anxious so will he.
  • Keep him close while waiting. While in the waiting room, keep your dog close by, and try to distract him with a toy or treat. This may help to ease his anxiety. Allow him to look at other animals that are there waiting but keep him firmly by your side and don’t allow him to interact with other dogs. After all they are there for a reason and you don’t want your German shepherd contracting anything.
  • Be mindful of other pets and people. Maintain a respectful distance from other pets in the office because you do not know how they might react to your dog. Similarly, if your dog is afraid, he may act out in a different way than usual.
  • Distract him during the exam.  Take a few treats in your pocket. It may help to give your dog a treat that takes several minutes to eat, so he is distracted while the vet performs the exam. Or hold a treat in your hand and hold it by his nose while the vet examines him, giving the treat for good behavior.
  • Remain calm yourself. Dogs are very sensitive to human emotions, so if you are uptight, he is more likely to be uptight as well. Dogs naturally want to protect owners so a relaxed calm attitude will keep him relaxed also.
  • Teach your dog a “watch me” command. Hold up a treat when you use the command, and give it to your dog when he makes eye contact. You can use this command in the veterinarian office to distract your dog when he is being given a shot or treatment.

The Bottom Line

Taking your dog to the vet can be stressful for both of you if you don’t take a few simple precautions. The key thing is to remain calm yourself and to give your dog no reason to worry. If you can distract your dog from the exam, you will be even better off. Once you have been a few times he will come to know the office and he won’t get stressed out.

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