Falcon got his Rabie’s shot tonight. This was his fourth visit to our veterinarian. He has had very good experiences in the past as I made sure the vet office equaled lots of treats.
I first thought something might be wrong when I took Falcon over to the scale to be weighed. He immediately backed off and was reluctant to get back on. Usually he LOVES jumping on things and sitting. He did get up on the scale, but he wouldn’t sit, which is his default behavior. So, instead he just got lots of treats for standing.
When the veterinarian entered, Falcon hid behind a table. He refused to come near the veterinarian and when the vet tried to listen to his heart, Falcon ran away. I got him to hold still by feeding him cheese and he allowed the exam, but when it came time for the shot, Falcon was having none of it. He hid in a corner and when the vet approached him he growled.
I was heartbroken that my little guy was so scared he was growling.
We were with Falcon on the floor because I thought he would feel more comfortable there, but after the growl, I picked him up and put him on the exam table. He immediately went into a sit and the vet was super fast, Falcon got the shot before he even knew something had happened.
I don’t know if at 16 weeks he was in a fear period, if it was just the stress of a weekend full of a lot of new experiences or something just spooked him. Maybe it was just that usually he has met the vet when he was on the exam table and not the floor. But, I don’t want him to think the vet is scary. A 16-week-old puppy that growls at a vet may not be a big deal; but a 2-year-old German shepherd that growls at the vet will be a big deal. I always want my dogs to be great representations of their breed.
Luckily, my veterinarian is very kind and he spent about 5 extra minutes in the room with us just feeding Falcon treats. I didn’t force Falcon to come up and eat the treats; but he did finally come up on his own. As soon as he went up and ate out of the vet’s hand, we did a happy dance and left the room.
I had planned to take Falcon on his first store outing after the vet, but I decided not to chance it, so we came back home instead.
Technically, Falcon won’t need to return to the vet for a year now, but I want to make sure he isn’t left with a scared feeling. I’ll talk to my veterinarian to see about bringing Falcon back just for a minor check up so he gets to see/feel the stethoscope and be examined without being scared.
It is easy for us to become stressed when our dogs do something we don’t want them to do. I think it is especially difficult for trainers. I spent my entire visit wondering what I did wrong; what could I have done better, did I cause this, etc.
But, if this happens to you; take a deep breath and remember your puppy is just scared. Let him know it is ok. You can pet him and tell him life is fine. You won’t be rewarding this fear; you will be helping him feel more secure.
The little guy is sound asleep right now after having a refreshing bone to chew on when he got home.