One of the many things that unite us as dog lovers is that we will all have to take our dog to visit the vet. This can be a harrowing experience for our animals, but it does not need to be that way. More and more veterinary clinics are becoming accredited “fear free” and make sure that their environment and processes are as low stress as possible for pets and people.

There are three key areas that you can focus on to help make a visit to a Veterinarian as positive an experience as possible for all involved. That’s what I’m covering in the video below.


You can also check out our YouTube Playlist on cooperative care to help with giving your dog medication, eyedrops, cleaning ears, nail trimming, grooming, being held and much more.

Keys to Creating a Positive Experience

Intentional and Experiential Conditioning

There is intentional conditioning and experiential conditioning. Aim for INTENTIONAL conditioning, focusing on the following four areas:

  • The Veterinary Clinic itself, the building, the parking lot, the smells. Call your vet and arrange for a visit in off-peak hours so you can create a positive experience for your pet.
  • Wearing a muzzle. If your pet is in a lot of pain, he might not want anyone near him. A muzzle will allow your pet to be treated and keep everyone safe.
  • Being held. Many animals do not like being restrained. Hold your pet, give him a cookie and let him go. Start gradually and work up to other people holding your pet.
  • Condition your pet to a carrier, cage or crate. Set up a positive experience! Build comfort and confidence and avoid any anxiety your dog or cat may have for being in a confined space or crate. Crate Games is going to help you condition your dog to a crate for comfort and confidence.

Planning for the Best Possible Experience for All

If you know you will be visiting the vet, prepare beforehand. Set out your treats, lead, carrier. Have a plan for what your visit looks like when you arrive at the vet. Plan for the best experience possible.

If your pet is reactive, it’s important to set him up for the best experience along with everyone who will be in contact with your pet. Everyone wants the best for your animals. Let your vet know ahead of time that your pet is reactive. Tell your vet how you will be arriving and what you are going to do to get to the examination room. Your vet might even have a reactive pet protocol.

Taking Action for Comfort Not Chaos

  • Have your focus on your pet when you enter the clinic (put your phone away).
  • Use appropriate equipment (a short leash rather than a retractable leash).
  • Don’t allow your pet to rush up to other people or animals.
  • Be considerate and kind to avoid chaos for everyone.

Swagger happy and relaxed in the consult room.

Following the simple and easy guidelines above can make a big difference to not only your dog but to everyone else who might be at the Veterinary Clinic.

What do you do to create a positive experience as possible for your dog (or cat, or other pet)?  Let me know in the comments your top tips.

We can do more as well to help our pets with focused training. Not too long ago I was able to interview Madelynn Hettiger in a look “Behind The Scenes At Shedd“, and Madelynn shared about  the training to help a Great Horned Owl have his eye worked on by a veterinarian without restraint or sedation. It’s important for animals to be happy and cooperate in their own care and the training outlined by Madelynn has many parallels with what we do in our dog training.

Today I am grateful for all the amazing Vets and Vet Support Staff in this world who do their utmost to help our animals. Next time you are at your Veterinary Clinic, let them know how much you appreciate all they do.

Save this image and use for quick easy access to key tips and your Vet’s contact details. To print for a handout, click on the image above to open a PDF to save.