One of the first things I do when I get a new pet is I schedule a “non-veterinary vet appointment.” Basically I want to bring my pet into the vet hospital to see the sights, and smell the smells, and hear the sounds. Why? Because I really want the very first impression of the vet’s office to be positive! As my dog or cat is soaking up the atmosphere from the strange new environment, I’ll give him treats, praise him, pet him, do some TTouch, etc. I’ll do anything in my power to reinforce being there. Most vets are happy to help out. What I did is I called my vet and asked to book an exam room, meet & greet the vet, and pay the regular office visit. Then in a few days, come back for a “Joe Normal” veterinary visit. (I also do the same thing with the groomer).
While I’m there, I ask every single staff member to please give a treat to my pet. Basically, I’m showering loads of rewards in an effort to classically condition a positive association with the vet’s office. I don’t stay too long, just a half hour or so. And I let him explore as much of the equipment as possible. I ask the vet if my pet can smell the stethoscope, sit on the scale a few times, etc. I also bring a toy in hopes my pet will relax enough after the meet & greet. It only takes about 5 – 10 minutes to meet everyone in the office, then I have up to 20 more minutes in the exam room to calm and relax my pet. If my dog seems relaxed enough, I’ll break out a tennis ball and let him roll it around the floor. If I have a cat, I usually use one of those kitty teasers and let him bat at it.
The next time I come back to the vet, my pet is far less stressed. I still have every single staff member give my pet treats AFTER the exam & shots are finished. Remember, you always want the good stuff to come last. The consequence of getting an exam & shots is treats; not treats at this location means I’m about to give you a shot.