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Triggers at the vets

So, we have identified if our dogs are stressed, now what?

With any behaviour modification plan the first step is to identify the triggers. It is just too simplistic to say ‘my dog is scared of the vets’. We need to consider which specific experiences contribute to their emotional state. Dogs have impeccable observational skills and can quickly make associations which become predictors of events, thus your list of triggers may start long before you’ve arrived at the veterinary surgery. 

Task 2: Make a list of the triggers/stressors your dog may encounter with their vet visit starting as far back as the reason you are visiting the vet; feeling unwell may be the very first stressor on the list!

Here are some ideas:

  • Illness
  • Pain
  • Stress pheromones from: worried owner, other humans, other pets
  • Harness
  • Walk to the surgery
  • Car journey to the surgery
  • Car Park
  • Dogs 
  • Other animals
  • Strangers
  • The building
  • Scales 
  • Muzzle
  • Equipment 
  • Injections
  • Physical examination 
  • Examination table
  • Medical procedures
  • Personal care (nail trimming, clipping, ear-cleaning etc)

When recognising triggers, be as specific as possible, for example are they more stressed by a particular surgery? Veterinarian? Examination room?