My B has major Anxiety at Vet

  • My vet did something that I thought was going to be a disaster but turned out to be brilliant. He had his assistant call in the office dog which was a Boston terrier named Newton. I thought Ember was going to tear Newton to shreds because her anxiety was over the top, instead, they sniffed each other and Ember calmed to a reasonable level where I could control her. I think all dogs fear the vet and they can smell the fear of all the animals that were there ahead of them. On top of that, she can sense my stress when she goes all crazy eyed basenji on me. Seeing Newton, who was calm and unafraid seemed to change her perspective. I understand not all vets will have their own dog for these situations; however, it did make me realize how high my anxiety level was as well. I now make a point of remaining relaxed and keeping her leash as slack as I can so that I don't add to her anxiety.

  • @beth - I can tell you that years ago (30+ years ago), my first Basenjis hated the Vet I used at that time... I changed Vets because I was not happy with them either.... when I took them to a new Vet clinic, they were just fine.... so I would wonder if the problem is with the Vet/clinic or workers?

  • I have a basenji who came to me through a "rehome" as owner's were being transferred to Brazil for their job. These people had NO clue as to how to take care of a basenji............he basically ruled them. However, he found out that I would not tolerate that behavior (I already had 2 basenji's in residents). When I took him to the vet, doing a weigh in was fine. Being picked up and put on table NO. Ear's probed, temp taken, shots......all a big NO. Found out he bites! Ok, so I did have a basket muzzle with me. T doesn't mind going to the vets, its just that when I know that they are going to have to do any poking or sticking, I put the muzzle on him first. He growls his protests for all the procedures. After all is said and done, I give the vet and the tech some treats, tell them to tell T "to sit". Which he does very nicely and takes the treats nice and gentle.
    I am thinking that maybe your pup had a bad experience somewhere along the line with either the vet or the tech. It happen's, as I used to work in a veterinary clinic many years ago and saw first hand how some of the vets or tech treat the animals that come in. Now is not the time due to what's going on, but I would try and bring some of your pups favorite treats next time, and after all done, have the vet and tech each give one to your pup, to show that good things can come from see "the vet"! Like Tanza asked, is your vet familiar with Basenji's? Wish you good luck.

  • Sadly, in these times of arriving on the carpark, phoning to say you have brought ??? and waiting while the vet fetches the dog from the car, treats it in his office and brings it back to you - sometimes phoning you during the 'consultation' - it is not possible to take a dog, and just sit in the waiting room, chatting and talking with other pet owners. AND talking reassuringly to your Basenji, stroking him or her, the while. Before just departing, to return again for another such session a couple of days later.

    My veterinary practice has puppy parties once a week but encourages visits to calm older worried patients to lull them into a feeling that this is not so bad !

    It's difficult to imagine that nothing untoward has ever happened at the vet's in this instance. Maybe just a painful jab could have triggered it ?

    My own pack has, singularly and in groups, screamed as soon as I turn into the entrance to the carpark. It is a sharp turn and a steep slope so instantly recognisable. But once there, they all know the vet will give them a milk-biscuit when its over, and submit without a fuss. I worried about Hoover, the first time she had all those needles stuck into her for acupuncture, but now, seeing her taken in Ian's arms while I wait in the car, I know she will be fine even though a nurse will be with her instead of her Mom.

    If you can visit and just sit, talking to your B, a few times - it might well be enough reassurance.

    Good luck !

  • @beth said in My B has major Anxiety at Vet:

    We got him at 8 weeks old, so he has no trauma causing him to be so fearful at the vet. I can handle him fine at home, using treats If he doesn’t like what I’m doing. He is fine with car rides and loves hiking. It’s when we pull into the parking lot of the Vet, he Completely loses it. He is irrational. Then on the way home, he is quiet and knows he’s going home.

    What has been his previous experience at the vet? Did you normally accompany him into the exam room and how did he react to routine exams, injections, etc.? I am guessing his anxiety has been increasing, but did that happen suddenly or over time he became worse about going to the vet? The other issue is that you are expecting him to be difficult. Don't make the mistake of feeding his anxiety by trying to sooth him. Be as "matter of fact" as you can and try to ignore his antics if you can. One thing you can work on is to drive to the vet, into the parking lot, and sit there for a bit. Then give him a treat (if he will eat it) and leave. Repeat until he gets bored with the whole exercise, then move up to taking him out of the car and going for a walk in the vicinity. You should gradually be able to at least arrive with a calm dog if he doesn't know when he might actually be going into the clinic.....and I would walk him to the door without entering many times, turning away to go for a walk. Once things are back to normal, take him inside and sit for a few minutes, then leave. This will be a long process but should eventually result in a more manageable dog when vet visits are necessary....

  • Thanks everyone! I appreciate the advice, definitely some good ideas to try out with Bailey.


  • This is beyond what Bailey can do right now, but helps to make the vet/basenji relationship a good one:
    My dogs have learned that they have to do what I am taking them to, so I treat it as a 'happy time.' If I have to carry them in (too many germs on the floor) I talk happy talk, do it like it's just what I'm doing, and sound like I'm going to a 'happy place.'

    I put them on the exam table, talk nice to the vet, and the dog gets the feeling that Mom is ok with the vet, I guess I should be too. And then I step back - shows Mom is ok with leaving me with them, must be ok.

    I have a problem with new techs, I sort of have to retrain them. Sometimes they have to take a dog from the waiting room, without me, and every time, they bend down, use a a baby voice, trying to convince the dog to come with them. That's when I step in:
    I explain that they have to act like taking the dog away from me is the most natural thing, and where they are going is not something they have to be convinced is ok. It is ok, it just IS, and Mom gave them to the tech, it must be okay. I tell them to use a voice that shows they are in control, and there is no choice. It's good, it's fun, and Mom said it's ok.
    I tell them it doesn't matter WHAT they say, it's the tone of their voice. I tell them they can say "Come on little shithead, your'e going to got poked, and prodded, and twisted into all positions" as long as they say it in a matter of fact happy voice.
    I explain with the story: If I'm walking with someone down an unfamiliar road, and we come to a crossroad, we have to go left, or right, or straight. If the person I'm with gets all worried about which way top go, with a worried voice , I'm going to be worried too, and put up resistance to even go any way.
    BUT, if the person , when coming to the crossroad, just says "Turn this way" I'll turn that way because that person seems to know which is the best way.
    I think basenjis pick up on cues in our voices.
    So, the tech uses a normal, matter of fact voice, and 99% of the time. it works

  • Lots of good advice here.
    I would like to add that it might be helpful to take your b on a REALLY long walk before going to the vet. Get him tired out ahead of time.

  • @eeeefarm said in My B has major Anxiety at Vet:

    The other issue is that you are expecting him to be difficult. Don't make the mistake of feeding his anxiety by trying to sooth him. Be as "matter of fact" as you can and try to ignore his antics if you can

    Egggsakly ! You are expecting him to act up - and are already on edge. So he will ! Make it into fun - get all fired up, "exciting ! We are going to the Vet ? WHAT a treat that is !

  • Call your veterinarian and ask if it's okay if you go there once every other day or so, and just sit in the waiting room. Bring a treat you know he loves. Sit in the waiting room until he calms down and take the treat(s), then leave ONLY when he's calm and relaxed. Don't leave when he's anxious. If the veterinarian and the people who work there are okay with it, make them come and give him treats, praise, then leave. He should soon come to feel like this is a place where he gets treats and attention. At home, work with him on getting his teeth checked, his ears and the rest of his body. Once he's comfortable with this, put him on a table and continue the work there. The floor and a table can make all the difference in whether a dog is comfortable or not. Good luck!

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