Bring Your Pet Hungry
“Simply start by giving them many more positive experiences than negative ones,” Marty Becker says. This is essential when introducing a new pet to the veterinary experience.
Debbie Martin, LVT, VTS-Behavior, animal behavior technician for Veterinary Behavior Consultations, a mobile veterinary service located in Austin, Texas, recommends scheduling fun visits to the veterinary hospital between clinical visits and offering a treat each time you stop in.
“The idea is to make the veterinary hospital more like a pet store,” she says.
There are several ways to prevent veterinary-related anxiety in young pets, Becker says.
“Bring the pet in often in the early months just to say hi, get a treat, or get massaged or fussed over,” he says. “It really helps if you bring [the pet] in hungry so [he] responds better to food rewards.”
Becker's daughter, dog-training expert Mikkel Becker, revealed tricks to help keep dogs calm. Hint: Tell clients to bring pets hungry and use treats—lots and lots of treats. She even suggested feeding dogs 10 treats per minute during the exam. Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, DACVN, a nutritionist at Ohio State University who has conducted pioneering research on enriching indoor pets' lives, also weighed in and said he actually thought 10 treats per minute was a bit slow. He responded to concerns that this method of training might be unhealthy for the pet.
"The only way an animal is going to become obese with this is if they never leave the hospital," Buffington says.