Tips & Tricks

What should I do if my dog is fearful at the vet?

Visits to the vet are stressful for most dog owners and their dogs. Whether it’s the annual check-up or our pet is sick, we automatically suffer along with them. When our dog is not only in pain but also scared, it is hard for most dog owners to bear to see their own animal suffer so much. Most of the time we talk calmingly to our dog, try to pet him, and stand by him. Unfortunately, there is a certain point when fear turns into panic and our dog hardly notices our presence. Our dog’s whole body is busy trying to escape or fight the unpleasant situation. Most veterinarians then react with safety measures e.g. muzzle, collar, fixation by an assistant, or in the worst case, because the treatment does not allow it otherwise, light sedation.

All this does not have to be!

We at Pupy would like to allow you to prepare your dog as well as possible for his visit to the vet, to avoid anxiety, fear, stress, and its consequences. The following 3 tips are especially right for dogs who have already had a bad experience at the vet.

Train with “Medical Training” different treatment situations.

Write yourself a list of treatment situations your dog has already had to go through. Sort the items on your list by the increase in your dog’s stress level. Once you have all the items sorted, begin training a treatment situation in which your dog has shown minor signs of stress. As time goes on, continue with more difficult treatment situations until you have worked through the entire list


If your dog reacts with aggressive behavior in stressful situations, or if you notice your dog threatening you during training, start with muzzle training first before training the other items on your list. This way your dog can wear the muzzle during the rest of the training and you and your dog can train together in a relaxed way.

Find a suitable veterinarian

Choosing a good veterinarian is very important, especially for fearful dogs. Vets should be able to recognize stress, anxiety, and fear and take countermeasures if necessary. Veterinarians with the “Fear Free” qualification are specially trained in helping any pet have a relaxed vet visit. Discuss with your veterinarian before treatment, preferably on the phone, what situations your dog is afraid of, so the practice team can adjust to your dog. Some veterinarians also offer a visit without a reason for treatment. Such appointments serve to give your dog positive experiences in the practice and he gets to know the practice team relaxed.

Train a relaxation signal

Relaxation signals can calm your dog in stressful situations and trigger a feeling of security. It is important to condition the signal beforehand in a relaxed situation. The relaxation signal can either be just a calming pat, or it can be associated with a word, melody, or scent. You can learn about conditioned relaxation in our app under the “Relaxation” category.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, feel free to contact us. Have fun training with the Pupy App!

By Sarah Mertes

Certified dog trainer

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