Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy Vet Visits

Everyone has different parenting styles, so why wouldn’t we all have different pet-ownership styles? In our house, positive re-enforcement reigns supreme, with only two negative re-enforcers for unacceptable behavior. Our negative re-enforcers are the God Bottle and the manual nose-squeeze correction.

When we first had each dog, they both were TERRIFIED of our vet. While I’m not so fond of doctors, either, our vet is the gentlest woman EVER. I couldn’t recommend her more- she cares about and treats our dogs, but she also takes care of us, as owners.

She suggested “happy vet” visits. This is where the dogs come in to the office, get weighed, praised, treats, and then leave. Nothing scary happens, it acquaints the dogs with the vet techs, and makes going to the Vet less terrifying. We would follow both happy vet visits and real vet visits with a trip to the dog park- the ULTIMATE in doggy rewards. Now the dogs pull to go IN to the office, rather than away from it.

Some people feel like this is a hippie, sissified approach to their care, and that’s fine. They are entitled to their opinions.


If you have a sick or injured animal (dogs especially), stress only exacerbates the problem. If you could avoid extra trauma and drama with an extra trip here and there to the vet for cookies, it seems like such a simple way to make the pet more comfortable. But, if a brief drive to the vet with your dog is too much work for you, that’s your choice.

There’s a simple cost-benefit analysis that we all do when it comes to extra errands and chores, and mine includes happy vet visits.

1 comment:

  1. Heya--Cinnabars on Ravelry.

    First let me say that I love the idea of happy vet visits, and positive reinforcement in general works better with every creature I've come in contact with. Second, though, I have no idea how it would work with cats. Our cats, for instance (we have two), are not only set in their ways, they get carsick (I'm pretty sure this doesn't *only* have to do with only ever going to the vet), and Cinnabar in particular hates small enclosed spaces (i.e., the carrier). I'm pretty sure that at nearly 5 and 4 1/2, they can't be trained to love to "go", like some cats do.

    Not only that, both our cats will refuse treats given to them by the VET (Very Evil Torturer), even though at home they *are* treat-motivated.

    It's definitely a puzzle, figuring out how one could make a vet visit positive for a cat, especially after they're grown and their prejudices have set. (And also--I'm not defeatist, but happy vet visits will have to wait until I have my own pets, since I still live at home, and I don't like recommending things till I know they have a fair probability of working on grown cats. :-D )

    Ay, this has been a hella long comment, hasn't it?


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