Prepping Your Puppy For The Vet! Part 1
A few weeks ago, in my 2-part blog Teach Your Puppy to Love Visiting The Vet, I wrote about things you can do with your puppy so he will learn to enjoy going to the vet’s. In today’s blog I’ll discuss what you can do at home with your pup to make you and your pup a serious contender for winning a popularity contest at your vet’s office.
When we started Avidog we talked with a number of veterinarians to discuss our vision for helping people create happy, healthy, stable dogs. Without exception, every vet said it would be a home run for veterinarians, vet techs, groomers, owners and, most importantly, dogs if we taught people how to train their dogs to accept having all parts of their bodies handled.
You would be surprised how little effort it will take on your part to teach your pup to accept being restrained and examined by both you and strangers. If you want to take on the challenge, here’s a plan for you to follow.
Rewarding your pup!
As with all behaviors, you are going to teach your puppy that he can get what he wants by doing what you want. You don’t have to say anything, just generously reward your pup every time he is cooperating with you. As you progress you will decrease the number of rewards you give.
Let’s Get Started
We highly recommend that you start doing these things with your pup as soon as you bring him home!
- If he struggles hang onto him until he stops struggling! As soon as he stops struggling, let him go. Doing this teaches him that being still gets him what he wants–freedom.
- Be sure you never release your puppy when he is struggling. If he is struggling, hang on tight until he stops!!! Then release him.
Repeat, repeat, repeat until your pup’s immediate reaction when you put your hands on him is to hold still.
2. Now that he’s learned to relax when you hold him, let’s up the ante for your puppy and reward him as you increase the time you hold him in place.
- Be sure to verbally praise him, stroke him and give him treats you know he loves while you are holding him!
- It’s important that you place the treat right in front of or directly into his mouth so he can get it without moving.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, increasing the amount of time you hold him in place, making sure to give him lots of treats while he’s holding the position.
As you go through this next section, remember the same rules apply as before. Remember to:
- reward your pup as you are handling each body part.
- not let go if your puppy struggles in any way.
3. Once your puppy is comfortable being held in place you are going to start handling and holding each part of your puppy’s body.
- Pick up your pup’s leg just below his knee/hock
- Gently extend it forward and back
- Gently move it from side to side.
- Never force the leg in any direction!
- If your puppy struggles while you are manipulating him, gently hang on until he stops and then try again.
- Repeat with the other three legs.
- Lift the ear
- Rub the ear leather between your fingers
- Look closely at the inside of the ear, so your pup gets used to your head being near his head
- Gently rub the inside of the ear.
- Repeat with the other ear
- Open your pup’s mouth and look down his throat
- Lift your pups’ lips to examine his teeth and gums
- Carefully rub your finger over his teeth and gums, making sure he does not bite down.
- Holding your pup’s head, look in his eye.
- Touch the edge of his eyelid
- Gently spread his eyelids apart exposing the eye itself.
- Be sure not to touch his eyeball.
- Gently touch your pup’s genital area. While you are at it, you might as well trim the fur from the area, which will reduce the chance your pup will get a UTI.
- Gently lift your pup’s tail and move it up and down.
- Be sure not to force it in any direction.
- While lifting his tail, touch the area around his rectum.
- Run your hands over his back.
- Run your hands over his chest.
- Run your hands over both sides of his abdomen
- While he is lying down run your hands over his belly, scratching it while you are there.
- Spread his legs apart and run your hands along his inner thighs
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Although it may seem like a lot of things to do with your puppy, you really can do it in about two minutes a day. This type of training is best done as “commercial training”–while you are watching TV, start training when a commercial starts. When the show comes back on, you’re done! You don’t need to do everything mentioned above every day–mix it up making sure you practice everything, eventually focusing on the things your pup struggles with most!
If you spend a couple of minutes each day from the day you bring your puppy home until he is 16 weeks old doing these things with him, you will have given him the wonderful gift of having conditioned him to accept and perhaps enjoy what is being done to him. Of course, it would also be great to continue doing this once a week for the rest of your dog’s life. Since he hopefully will only be going to the vet once or twice a year, practicing with him will help him to continue to accept being handled. It’s also a great way to be checking him for any new lumps and bumps that you might otherwise miss.
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