These are handling exercises that will simulate the way a vet handles a dog during a routine visit.
Often dogs will be stressed by going to the vet and being examined. How much time do dogs usually spend standing on a metal table? Not much. The same goes for being poked and prodded. We need to make sure that our dogs are comfortable with these unusual events.
We also owe it to veterinary staff to do as much as possible to ensure that they are not going to get bitten while tending to our dogs. As a financial incentive for you, some vets even charge extra for difficult dogs and give discounts to well-behaved ones.
You can do this exercise at home on a table, and we also strongly encourage you to get the pup into the vet’s office for no other reason than to be rewarded by some tasty treats from the doc and staff. Certified Fear Free clinics make this part of their treatment and care program.
Do this exercise with your puppy a couple of times a week while he is small and easy to lift. Continue to spring it on him now and again as he gets more substantial in size. It’s a good idea to have a friend or someone who the pup is not that familiar with doing a few simulated exams as well.
Place the pup on a table that simulates a vet exam table.
Examine his body the way a vet would, going over the neck, back, legs, and the eyes, mouth, and ears. You can use our Happy Handling Worksheet to accomplish this aspect of the exam.
As you examine the puppy, he should be getting tiny tasty pieces of treats.
If he is uncomfortable with the exercise, keep it short and end on a positive note.
Your puppy should be comfortable being elevated on a strange surface while he is handled by you, your vet, or a groomer.