Dear Daisy Dog
Babe, my 2-year-old border collie, is afraid of the veterinarian. She was fine during her puppy visits last year, but at this year’s annual physical, she was so frightened that she snapped at the vet. What can we do to make future visits less stressful for her – and safer for him?
It sounds like Babe has “white coat syndrome,” in other words, fear of her doctor.
Despite the name, it probably won’t help for your veterinarian to remove his white coat.
Instead, you’ll need to teach Babe to relax at the animal hospital.
My golden retriever sisters and I were frightened, too, when we left the breeding kennels in which we’d lived for so many years to join regular society.
With exposure to new people and novel situations – plus plenty of human patience – we’ve developed more self-confidence.
To help Babe overcome her fear, take her to the animal hospital for social visits every few weeks, preferably during the hospital’s quiet times.
While she explores the reception area and exam room, offer her treats and toys.
Ask the veterinarian or technician to do a mock physical exam, while you encourage Babe to lick some peanut butter or cheese spread from a tongue depressor.
If she still responds aggressively, invest in a basket muzzle. It will protect the veterinarian but still allow Babe to pant, drink water and accept treats.
With continued socialization visits, Babe’s fear should disappear, just as mine did.
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