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Discussion Starter #1
My puppy is a German Shepherd/Boxer/Pitt mix, 7 months old. He did well in puppy training (held in the lobby at the animal hospital). He loves sniffing strange dogs, ignoring the neighbor's little gray yappy pup, meeting people and dogs in Petsmart, playing with my dad's labs, barking at cats, walking around the neighborhood, and jumping on my mother. He's great with new places and strange people, and I recently took him to a boarding kennel to meet and play with an abandoned dog with no issues -- this included "running the gauntlet" between the crates with lots of strange dogs barking at him. He used to go to the vet fine, but after he got his rabies vaccination (uneventful appointment, or so I thought), he's started freaking out. He pees on the techs, and he was neutered this past week and apparently wouldn't let anyone touch him -- to the point that the vet gave me the be-careful-with-strangers-because-he's-a-bite-risk talk and worried that he wouldn't let /me/ touch him! I can stick my hands in his mouth and put on his e-collar and clip his nails and do the flea/tick stuff with no problem (he even lets me rub ice around the healing neuter wound to reduce inflammation in concert with the meds the vet sent home), and he's fine (albeit shy) with small children, but the moment we step into the animal hospital, he absolutely freaks. We haven't been back to the vet since the neuter, but I'm worried the experience will make things worse. He already won't eat when we're there and tries to get out the door ASAP. I had to carry him into the exam room last time because he wouldn't walk in on his own, and the techs had to hold him still to get the pre-op blood work done. :( The only thing he /likes/ at the animal hospital is meeting other dogs in the lobby! (Except the one woman who told us straight-faced that her dog was afraid of dogs.)
Bottom line is, I'm really not sure what to do at this point. I adore this vet -- I've been to her with four other dogs, and she's been wonderful with all of them (short of not believing me when I try to tell her that the only place my pup acts this way is in the animal hospital). My first thought was to give him treats while we're there, but he's so anxious that he won't take food from the receptionists or the techs or the vet or myself. We've tried jerky, chicken, pork, hot dog pieces... he won't take any of it. I've tried pouring attention on him while we're there, but it doesn't calm him down any. He ignores what are at home his favorite toys.
He won't have to go back to the vet for a while, thankfully, but I'd like to solve this problem if I can. Any thoughts?
 

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I havent had this problem, but Ive seen others at our vet who just drive in, walk in to get a treat and a petting, and leave immediately. The purpose of that is to slowly build up positive associations in small increments.
If he is super scared to even go in, I would drive there, get out in the parking lot, give a treat, and leave. Repeat that a few times. When he is calm doing that, move closer to the door, treat him, leave. It might take weeks or months, but you just have to be persistent about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's half an hour away from me, but I think I can do that on the way to hang out at my dad's (every week). I hope he'll actually eat, though -- that's been part of the problem... Thanks for the tip. :)
 

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I havent had this problem, but Ive seen others at our vet who just drive in, walk in to get a treat and a petting, and leave immediately. The purpose of that is to slowly build up positive associations in small increments.
If he is super scared to even go in, I would drive there, get out in the parking lot, give a treat, and leave. Repeat that a few times. When he is calm doing that, move closer to the door, treat him, leave. It might take weeks or months, but you just have to be persistent about it.
+1.

As stated, this training can take a lot of time, so have patience and don't rush it.

in addition - or instead of - treating him, bring along a favorite toy but don't let him know you have it. Just make it appear "by magic" at the right time and start playing with him.

After you have him going in and out of the vet's office with no problem,- and to repeat, this may take some time - ask one of the techs to come over and pet him. Make sure the place isn't busy, though.
 

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We're in the same situation as you, only ours is a 5.5 year old dog vs. a pup. She used to love going to the vet. One bad shot experience, though, and now she hates it. She has to be muzzled to be treated and it's a real struggle getting her 80 lbs in the door. Our vet is also a 1/2 hour away so stopping by for desensitization sessions is not easy, although we did it many times.

On our last two visits, we tried Xanax, taken 3 hours before the appointment. She was a different dog. She took treats from the vet and even walked BACK INSIDE after leaving, on her own, through the front door, which we haven't been able to get her to do in 2 years.

She only takes the meds for the vet visit, not all the time. The good thing about this kind of drug is that it is not a sedative so the dog can still be alert and learn to make positive associations. That's where we're at right now. Since our dog has anal glands that don't seem to empty on their own and since they're tucked pretty deeply inside, we're going to take her in every month or so to have them expressed. She'll be on meds and we'll go through training routines each time. If we can make it over there more often we will. But I'm hoping that with enough repetition, over time, she'll relax enough to accept the visit without stressing so much.

I would not see the drug as a substitution for the desensitization training, but as a tool that can help make it more effective. Eventually, you may be able to do vet visits without it.

Ask your vet about it. It may help. Might also help to get a behaviorist to assess your dog's fear issues. Someone trained to read body language who can see the animal in a variety of situations (vets who only see scared dogs have a pretty narrow view into the behavior - I have to remind my vet all the time that Poca is fine most everywhere else, thanks to a lot of training and effort, and lives a happy, fun life with people and lots of other dogs she loves).
 

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I agree with the others. Stop by the vet as often as possible (without going way out of your way) just to make positive associations. If you need to do something there to make it seem more like a real appointment, most vets will let you weigh a dog without really having to deal with the vet/techs. I pop in once every couple of months with my dog for a weigh in and the techs let me do it myself.

I'd say the first thing you need to do is figure out what's going to motivate the dog the most. If it's a toy, then bring that. If it's food, then bring that. Maybe it's meeting all the dogs in the waiting room. Whatever it is, that's the key to breaking this pattern and making positive associations.

Winnie, I'm curious what kind of "shot experience" caused a dog that loved the vet to start hating it and acting aggressively. Kit loves the vet so much I really can't think of anything that they could do to change her mind.
 

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I havent had this problem, but Ive seen others at our vet who just drive in, walk in to get a treat and a petting, and leave immediately. The purpose of that is to slowly build up positive associations in small increments.
If he is super scared to even go in, I would drive there, get out in the parking lot, give a treat, and leave. Repeat that a few times. When he is calm doing that, move closer to the door, treat him, leave. It might take weeks or months, but you just have to be persistent about it.
I agree with this as well.
Although you may not be able to stop by the office all the time - I wonder if you could take a bit of the smell home with you - go rub a towel on the exam table, wall, etc and then stick it in a ziplock and treat when he smells it. Perhaps that would let you take it home so to speak? I've never tried this but it might work. Maybe dress like a vet/vet tech and use the smelly towel at the same time? Just some ideas to through out there...
 

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Winnie, I'm curious what kind of "shot experience" caused a dog that loved the vet to start hating it and acting aggressively. Kit loves the vet so much I really can't think of anything that they could do to change her mind.
I think it was a combination of things, actually. She was sick and not feeling well, probably vulnerable - strike 1. He was a little old school and tried to get the shot in quickly - zero bedside manner. She wasn't on the exam table so he was looming over her, grabbed the skin and administered the shot. It was sudden - even took me by surprise. My dog does not like surprises - strike 2. He hit a nerve and she howled and jumped like she'd been touched with a red hot poker - strike 3. That's when the teeth first came out.

We moved to another state after that and she started out being relatively ok with the new vet, still not liking it like she used to. She became ill within a couple of months, went through the trauma of an e-vet visit and an IV, then more regular vet visits with shots. Now she just has bad associations all around with the vet, stemming I think from that initial bad experience just before we moved. It's just escalated from there. Doesn't help that every time we go, she is getting poked for some reason or another - vaccinations, urine drawn from her bladder with a needle, blood draws, etc.

That's how we got to the meds. We're trying to walk this back and see if we can crowd out the bad associations with good ones, e.g. visits where nothing happens except she gets to eat steak and maybe get her anal glands expressed, which, weirdly, I think she likes because she feels better after.

Important note: Poca is high-strung by nature and has always exhibited fear when in situations with lots of inputs to process and when her escape routes are not clear. We've worked with her a ton, to the point that her last few bugaboos are the groomers, places like loud parking lots, and now, the vets. I think most dogs would not escalate to needing a muzzle like she has. It was just a combination of events strung together combined with her already fearful tendencies to make this magic brew. Yay.
 

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Sassy used to be like your dog Winnie. She had one bad exsperince with one of the vets when she was a puppy, and she was a disaster for years. She's muzzled everytime we go. Now we have a vet she loves. He can pet her and just sits on the floor and talks to her instead of a jab and go type of vet. And that's helped her so much. I can get her in the room with out having to drag her in. She now goes in with no issues. It took alot of time to get there, but it's so much nicer.
 

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I think the vet could do (and has done) just about anything to Zoey, and she would still love to go back. In her first year of life, she had a hernia/spay surgery, infections and complications from that, broken leg, complications and suture granuloma from it, shots with reactions in the office causing vomiting and diarrhea. And yet, when we get near the office, she starts dancing in the car, and by the time I let her into the vets office, her butt is wagging so hard she can hit herself in the face with her tail:) IDK what it is about that office but its why I drive 45 minutes to get there when there is another vet 10 minutes from my house.

My daughter has a medical condition (and I know dogs and kids arent the same, but its the same principle) that requires lots of blood draws and monthly infusions. When she was younger, her regular nurse injured her back and didnt come in, and a floater nurse was sent down, who was very new to nursing. She couldnt get the vein right, and despite my daughter screaming she continued to do what she was doing (fishing around in her arm for another vein), attempted to secure a vein by clamping down on one with her thumb, which sent blood spewing everywhere, which caused my daughter to barf on the nurse, and then pass out.

This event triggered a year of psychiatrist visits, therapy sessions, work with a behavior therapist, occupational therapist.....and what we ended up needing to to was medicate her with Ativan, a mild sedative, for a long while. No matter what else we did, she would panic, and get herself into such a state that by the time we were ready to get her line in, she was puking, zoning out, passing out, or hysterical. What we needed to do was start having positive associations with that hospital area, but we could never do that, bc she became so panicked at even the sight of the place. Using Ativan, just that one day a month, help her relax enough that we could start having positive times there, and eventually, we were able to phase it out.

The dr described it to me like this: if a person were in a horrible, traumatic car accident, they may not be able to drive for awhile. First, they may need to just get comfortable holding the car keys again. Then, it would take time to be able to relax enough to sit in the car in the driveway. Then, maybe starting to drive down one small side street. It just has to go really slowly.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Since he's fine with the parking lot, I'm thinking I'll walk him in the door, see if he'll take food, and walk back out again -- it'll be a good start, I think. I like the idea of going in just to weigh him; their scale is in the lobby and it might be an easier thing to transition to when I can get him in the door. Thanks for all the ideas and stories. :)
 

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Blaze used to hate the vets.

Lucky for use it was around the corner. So i would walk him past the plaza a few times a day. eventually getting him to walk past the door, then eventually inside the doors. then eventually on to a scale. and so forth. He would still stress out. but not as bad.

To bad your vet is not closer.

What also changed Blaze. was when i changed vets. He walks in the new vets office, no problem, greets every one no problem. Maybe it is something about the vet you use? or the building itself? I didnt like my vet any way, so it wasnt a big deal to change vets. I only changed because I worked in the basment of the new vets office. so it was convienent for me to bring blaze to work, then to his vet appointments ect. Im not sure if this is a possibility for you. But maybe start using a closer vet. and start super slow there. take him in for weight ins, no medical check ups. and work around there.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My dad has a medical issue and isn't so hot at taking care of his labs, so me using the same vet lets me keep tabs on the girls' health. Also, I've only ever been to one other vet, and he was absolutely terrible -- he frightened the dogs and made medically questionable decisions. I'm not sure I'm ready to trust an unknown like that.
Also, I'm pretty sure that the rabies shot got Ren associating the building (since it doesn't matter who's with him) with needles, and needles with pain. Before that, he'd had his training class in the lobby, and he was a great student when he wasn't trying to sneak food out of my treat bag.
 

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What also changed Blaze. was when i changed vets. He walks in the new vets office, no problem, greets every one no problem. Maybe it is something about the vet you use? or the building itself? I didnt like my vet any way, so it wasnt a big deal to change vets. I only changed because I worked in the basment of the new vets office. so it was convienent for me to bring blaze to work, then to his vet appointments ect. Im not sure if this is a possibility for you. But maybe start using a closer vet. and start super slow there. take him in for weight ins, no medical check ups. and work around there.
I was going to suggest changing vets as well. Don't change vets blindly, ask people. Even strangers who their vets is and how their dog reacts. A guy I work with, his dog hated his vet and would start crying as soon as they pulled into the parking lot. He tried my vet, which I love, my dogs all love, and his dogs loved them as well from the first visit. The whole staff from everyone in the reception and in the back make the pets feel warm and welcome. The vet even has weekend parties where you bring your dog in for treats and fun and let them explore the whole place. My youngest has got all his shots and Microchipped and everything there. The only thing he wasn't fond of is when he got his temperature taken. I can't blame him though. But they loved him up when done and made sure he got plenty of treats and he soon forgot all about it. I do not advocate just blindly changing vets, but I would recommend asking around. I have been to bad vets, so so vets, and great vets. I can tell you from experience you know when you get a great vet. Your pet feels good and you feel good taking him there.
 

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Yes, I agree with the above suggestion. Consider changing vets if possible, but ask around first.

When I was little I thought being a vet might be fun. I've always loved animals, that's for sure, and I'm down with the hard work and science courses I'd have to take (took most of them, anyway). But then I realized that I'd have to treat animals when they were sick, give them shots, and generally cause them pain and fear. I'm not sure if I could do that day-in and day-out.

I would venture to say that one of Kit's favorite places is the vet. Pulling into the parking lot, she gets excited and vocalizes to let me know she demands to go inside NOW. She'll drag me inside if I let her. She loves greeting the people there, as impolitely as I'll tolerate. After all, they have FOOD! Once in the exam room, she greets all techs and vets who enter the room with full body wiggles. She's usually too busy kissing the techs to notice that the vet is jabbing her. But as Winnie said, this is a personality thing. I don't think it has ever occurred to Kit to fear a human.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Okay, I cave, I'll consider it. D: I moved into the area a couple months ago so I don't know anyone well, but the internet should give some decent leads, right?
 

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Okay, I cave, I'll consider it. D: I moved into the area a couple months ago so I don't know anyone well, but the internet should give some decent leads, right?
Nope. ;-) I would ask people. Much harder to find people enthusiastic about a vet in your area on the internet. GottaLuvMutts has an excellent description of Kits vet but you really don't find that in vet reviews. My vet has a website as well and it is one of the worst websites I have ever seen. This is one where word of mouth really comes in handy. Take the dogs to the park go on a walk, find happy dog owners, people out with their dogs and just ask. If someone like their vet they will tell you just like GottaLuvMutts did and I did too. A good vet is hard to find on the internet. But ask someone that loves their dog and if they have a good vet they will be excited to tell you all about them.

That's how I found my vet. A woman I knew had 2 German Shepherd and a Pit bull. A sales man came calling and tried to sell her a security system. Seriously.... She told him no she didn't need that and she told him why. Good salesman though told her well what if there was a fire, your dogs can't dial 911 to get out of the house. She bought a security system to protect her dogs. No I am not making this up, true story. Anyway, so I had to ask her what vet she went to because she had to have already done all the hard work to find a good one. Sure enough best vet I have ever been to and all my dogs love them. You don't have your city listed in your profile but you can try asking in a new thread here for vet recommendations in a specific city. I say a new thread because someone might not see it this far down. However, I would say your best bet is ask around.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Would probably belong in a different subforum as well. ;)
The only person with a dog I've met around here is my neighbor, and they let their dog out the front door every morning to wander the neighborhood -- and behind my car. It's almost a good thing that it always barks everywhere all the time.
I like the ask-people-at-the-dog-park idea, though. I'd forgotten for a moment that I can actually go there now that Ren is neutered and his hump-everything-that-moves won't be an issue. XD

EDIT: I did some research, and I've found a couple possibilities. One has awesome reviews and the other has none, haha. But they both have e-mail addresses, and I fully intend to ask very specific questions to see whether I like the answers. If anyone finds digging around fun, I'm in Laurel, MD.
 

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Syrtica, are there any businesses in the area where you could ask? For example: a doggy daycare? a place that offers obedience classes? maybe a good mom-and-pop pet store (not a box store)? These are the places that you'll find people who have devoted their lives to dogs. They will be able to direct you to the best vets in the area and will know which vets you should stay away from.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
There's one daycare, but the mom-and-pops have been largely run out of the area because there's a Petsmart and a Petco on the same stretch.

In other news, I am DEFINITELY switching vets. After research I estimated my 6 month heartworm/flea and tick for one dog at around $150. I picked up the stuff from the vet last night at their recommendation -- and after packing it away in a baggie and handing it over, the receptionist smiles and tells me it's nearly $300. :/ Pain in the rear to pay immediately after a $500 neuter op. I don't like to say that finances are a factor, but they really are. Guess that's what I get for using a vet where people have million dollar houses. D; Alas, I am young and naive.

EDIT: And I've just researched neuter prices, which I failed to do before... $500 for 36 lbs with total time between drop-off and pick-up: 9 hours. I got kind of ripped, didn't I?

EDIT2: Dude, I could buy so many video games by finding a just-as-good, cheaper vet who preferably doesn't employ people who recommend that I violate county and state law by not getting my dog vaccinated for rabies. (The woman who said this was not my vet, fortunately, but another vet in the same facility who struck me as a bit weirdo.)
 
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