Talking With Pet Doctors

Taking A Shy Dog To The Vet

by Christy Adams

Every dog reacts a little differently to visiting the vet. Some dogs are excited to see the vet, wagging their tail and greeting them like a best friend. Other dogs act a little defensive and aggressive. And still other dogs seem to act really shy when they visit the vet. They may cower in the corner, try to resist walking into the exam room, and try to jump into your arms as the vet examines them. Taking a shy dog to the vet can be harder than you might think, but there are some tips you can follow to make the experience a bit better for both you and your pup.

Call ahead and tell the vet your dog is shy.

A day or two before your appointment, call ahead and tell the vet's staff that your pup is a bit shy. If there are particular things that seem to make your dog more intimidated, like loud noises or cats, let the staff know this, too. As much as they can, most vet offices will try to make sure things are quiet and calm when your shy dog is due to come in. If the waiting area is calm and quiet, your dog may not be so shy when it comes time to go to the exam room.

Wait in your car if you're early.

If you arrive to the vet's office before your appointment time, don't go in early. Wait in your car until your appointment time. You can call the office and let them know you're there; they may let you know when the vet is ready so you can just wait in the car till then. Either way, you'll minimize your dog's time in the waiting room, which is a space that makes many dogs feel more intimidated.

Hold your own dog during the exam, if possible.

If the vet tech or veterinary assistant asks if you'd like them to hold your dog for the exam, it's okay to say "no thanks." In fact, holding your own dog tends to be the better choice when you dog is really shy. This way, you can comfort them with gentle pets and a soothing voice. And your dog is less likely to try to wrestle away when you're holding them versus when an unfamiliar person is holding them.

Shy dogs don't generally bite or snap at the vet, but their wiggly, over-attached behavior can make the exam a little harder. Rest assured, though, most vets are used to dealing with this, and they can be a lot of help if you let them know ahead of time what's going on. 

For more information, contact your veterinarian.