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Lola (our rescued pittie puppy) went for her first vax today with the vet and I have to say it could have gone better. She's almost 9 weeks old now so she got a full exam as well. She was find with the tech taking her temp and doing the wormy test, but she didn't like the vet AT ALL. Personally, I felt like he was pretty rough in his exam and she's a pretty soft, sensitive puppy. When he started checking her teeth (which she lets me do with no problem at all) she started growling at him. He started telling her "no, no, growling's bad, blah, blah, blah). Started suggesting puppy classes so it "doesn't become a problem" and recommended I bring her by the vet's office every so often just to visit (which I agree is actually a great idea). She also started growling when the tech was holding when they gave her her shot. When they let her down off the table the vet offered her a milkbone and she wouldn't take it from him. When he sat her on the floor she tried hiding behind my daughter, so it's obvious that it was NOT an aggression issue (like I said, she's 9 weeks old for goodness sake).

I'm honestly not that worried about it at this point and feel like the vet made more of a big deal out of it than he should have just because of her breed. It seemed like pretty normal, nervous puppy behavior to me, and the fact that she gave a warning growl instead of going straight to a snap is never anything I'm going to try and discourage. But I definitely do want to work on getting her desensitized to the vet. Every night while we're hanging out on the couch we do an inspection and I handle her feet, check her ears, rub her tummy and look in her mouth, etc. Any suggestions on desensitizing her to being restrained? This definitely wasn't a good first experience for her and I'd like to undo any damage that may have been done. Going to a new vet will be number one on our fix-it list. I had a credit there after we took the cat to a rabies clinic there a few months ago and I was charged incorrectly, so that was the biggest reason I went there, but now I'm wishing we'd gone elsewhere :(
 

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Going for lots of good visits, with no shots, no rude poking and prodding, just praise, treats, and play. When she relaxes around the distractions, then add the rest.

One thing that may help is to practice this at other places too. Use a table at home, for height and slick surfaces. If you take her to puppy classes, or have access to any other places ( we have several warehouses, tractor supply, and schools we train at) that a stranger can handle her, adding distractions of other animal smells and sounds, all the better.

Clinics are scary places. Many good dogs show fear or aggression to vets, techs, or just anyone there in general.
 

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A lot of dogs are scared at the vet and show behavior they wouldn't show anywhere else in the world. It's a scary place. Uncomfortable things happen to them there, strangers get awfully familiar with them, there are or have been that day other animals there who might be noisy, and who knows what kind of pheromones are flying around.

The nice thing is that with a 9 week old puppy, you have a lot of time and opportunities for counter conditioning. Visit just to get treats and gentle handling/play (a good clinic won't mind this) from staff. I agree with juliemule, practice being up on tables or counters at home and practice handling all parts of her body. Try bringing a little scrap of yoga mat or bathroom rug for the exam table, some dogs are scared by the slippery surface and it's amazing how much they relax if they just simply don't have to worry about their feet slipping.

Sadly, a lot of vets just sort of charge into an appointment and start manhandling dogs and cats. It's amazing how much more relaxed and cooperative they are for everything else if the vet just takes a couple of minutes to greet them nicely and calmly talk to them and give them treats at first before segueing into the exam. Don't be intimidated or shy of asking the vet to slow down a little bit or be more gentle. Say "they told us at puppy class to have you give some treats and pets before the exam" if it makes you feel like they will take you more seriously.
 

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If she was fine with the Tech but not the vet, I would change vets. Dogs have taught me to say to myself, " If my dog does not like you , then I probably won't either." My dogs now, all 8 of them , have no issues going to our current vet. They even jump up onto the table happily.

Some people just give off a bad vibe.
 

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This might sound weird but take a conformation handling class.....

In conformation the judge puts their hands ALL over the dog and it must stand and allow it.
 

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This might sound weird but take a conformation handling class.....

In conformation the judge puts their hands ALL over the dog and it must stand and allow it.
I agree, it's not a bad idea really. I would do that with my dog if she weren't far past the socialization stage...
 

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I agree with Johnny -- I've actually had much better experiences at conformation handling classes than I have at puppy classes. The dog learns to work with you while ignoring the other dogs in the room (great place to practice "look at me"), it learns to walk nicely on a leash, and it gets to experience having lots of people run their hands over it (at least at the classes I've been to, different people get a chance to "play judge" so that the dog gets used to any old stranger doing the exam).

I took Crystal and Casper to handling classes even though Crystal is spayed/slightly oversized and therefore not show quality and Cas isn't an AKC/CKC breed (he's UKC and we don't have those shows here). No one objected. It will all depend on the group, though. As in anything, there are wonderful dog show people and there are snobs.
 

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I didn't want to be as blunt as Nev Allen, but I agree that an experienced Vet should make a better effort with a first time pup. I've gone through a number of Vets with previous dogs, but I stuck with my current Vet, because she has a great bedside manner with my dog... She spoils him more than I would like, but on the other hand, she can handle him (60 lbs) by herself, without a tech, b/c she made the effort to make friends in the beginning... And, when she has to hurt him, such as moving an arthritic leg, or looking into an infected ear, she will back off, 'apologize,' and he'll tolerate the pain...
 

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I didn't want to be as blunt as Nev Allen, but I agree that an experienced Vet should make a better effort with a first time pup. I've gone through a number of Vets with previous dogs, but I stuck with my current Vet, because she has a great bedside manner with my dog... She spoils him more than I would like, but on the other hand, she can handle him (60 lbs) by herself, without a tech, b/c she made the effort to make friends in the beginning... And, when she has to hurt him, such as moving an arthritic leg, or looking into an infected ear, she will back off, 'apologize,' and he'll tolerate the pain...
I was so impressed by our very first vet with Luke. When we came for our first visit he got right down on the floor with 12 week old Luke and spent the first 5 minutes just playing with him. Then he did the exam right there on the floor and was very slow and gentle and had treats. After that Luke absolutely loved going to see the vet. The vet was able to snip Luke's stitches (from his neutering) by himself with Luke rolled over on the floor. I think those first experiences being so positive are very important.
 

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We have only one vet in town (and no other towns close by) and he doesn't like dogs much. :-( He actually approached Sacha (pitt mix0 and tried petting her on the top of her head...she growled, he stopped. lol. At least he's not dumb.

But I did want to share about a vet I had when I was caring for a foster DA mutt.

I don't remember the Vet Tech at all, but the vet came in and sat down on the floor as she spoke with us. She waited for Dolly to come to her, and did much of the exam without the dog even knowing. A little look here, and little touch there, then pet pet pet, back-off, etc.

She's such a wonderful vet. Sad I don't live near her anymore. She told us she rarely uses the table b/c it's 'weird' for dogs.

FWIW, we did a practice exam for desensitizing with all of our dogs on top of the washer/dryer- very similar surface.
 

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My seven year old was all excited to go for a car ride, she remained excited when we got to the vet(this was her first time at the vet ever--I go to vaccine clinics for shots). She had to have a minor procedure and when she was done she couldn't be happier to leave. The follow up....dog is excited to go somewhere, dog sees where it is, dog tries escaping out the front door of vets office, finally dog is carried into the back(50 pound dog). When the vet comes in she jumps on the bench and stares at the wall...I think she thought he couldn't see her...it made everyone laugh.
 
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