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Fear at the Animal Hospital

Grace, a one-year-old Fox Red Labrador, started showing fearful behaviors as a puppy at her veterinarian. Grace is generally comfortable with humans but developed a fear of being handled. This included taking her temperature, looking in her ears, nail trims, and general handling. In the veterinarian's office, she was nervous and started hiding under the bench in the exam room.

Unfortunately, Grace had medical issues that needed treatment. The medical staff was not able to give her an IV, obtain a blood sample, get her temperature, or get a swab from her ear so her infection could be treated. It is not at all uncommon for pets to be fearful of exams and procedures. However, as you well know, having your canine companion examined is crucial to their health and well-being.

Grace went from fearful to fear-free at the vet! How did this get accomplished? Her amazing pet parents implemented our Happy Handling Program. Dogs have very little control over their lives. Without control, animals can get anxious (this includes humans, too). If we teach canines that handling can be positive, not scary, and even rewarding, they will usually opt to partake in the activity. We taught Grace that handling happens on her mat with her consent. We used a chin rest to communicate with Grace and for her to communicate with us. When Grace placed her chin in her pet parent's hand, then handling happened. If she removed her chin, then handling stopped. As a result of this training at home and at the hospital, Grace had a successful vet visit which will make her medical exams in the future so much easier. Her loving pet parents and medical team took the time and effort to teach Grace that medical treatments can be fun and rewarding.

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