Photo by Mathew Wells
Socialising and Calming Your Dog For Vaccinations
Socialising your dog before their vaccinations can get them used to interacting with strangers and help make their first visit to the vet less stressful. If your pup is about to have their vaccinations, now’s a good time to start planning the amount of socialising they need which will go a long way to helping them keep calm when they get their injections.
The importance of socialising your dog
Puppies need to be socialised from a young age and should generally start when they’re between 3 to 12 weeks old. Dogs that had a proper amount of socialising when they were younger tend to be more confident and relaxed later in life. Socialising involves introducing your pup to other dogs, new people, or other animals and getting them comfortable with these new interactions. This means if your pup has received an appropriate amount of socialising, they’re more likely to be calm when it’s time to take them to the vet.
The best ways to socialise your dog in preparation for their vaccinations
To help get your puppy used to being touched and handled, make sure to handle your puppy regularly, with lots of stroking and reassurance. Try introducing your puppy to other people, pets, and places from a young age. This could involve taking them on a road trip or car ride, visiting family, or letting them meet friendly and fully vaccinated dogs. It’s best to avoid trips to the park and walks on the street before they’re fully vaccinated as this could expose your unvaccinated pup to health risks. Here in Australia, you’ll find lots of puppy preschools designed to help socialise your pup in a safe environment.
Keeping your dog calm during the vaccination
Going to the vet may not be your pup’s favourite thing, but with careful planning you can minimise their stress. You can prepare them for the day of the vaccination by:
● getting them used to the car
● getting them used to being handled by other people
● gently exercising your puppy just prior to their appointment (this will release their endorphins)
Ways to keep them calm
To help keep your dog calm on the day of their vaccinations, you might want to invest in synthetic pheromones. These can be sprayed in your dog’s pet carrier or onto their blanket and may help keep them soothed. Make sure to take your puppy to the toilet before their vet appointment to minimise accidents. It’s also a good idea to bring treats with you, as this will help distract your puppy if they’re getting stressed. If possible, try to go in with your puppy and talk to them in a low, soothing voice while the vet administers their vaccinations.
What to do if your dog panics during their vaccinations
There are a ton of new sights, sounds and smells in the vet’s clinic, so it’s not surprising if your puppy is overwhelmed. Symptoms of anxiety may include:
● whimpering or whining
● shaking or trembling
● drooling or heavy panting
● losing control of their bladder or bowels
● barking or getting aggressive.
If your puppy starts to panic during their visit, try to calm them down by stroking and talking to them repeatedly. Have some of their favourite treats to hand, and avoid punishing or reprimanding your puppy, as this may make them feel even more anxious. If your dog’s anxiety is severe, your vet may discuss using an anti-anxiety medication to help your pup cope better. Or you could discuss with your vet the possibility of giving them calming medication prior to any future vet appointments. Your puppy’s first visits to the vet can have a profound effect on them so, if possible, try to make it as enjoyable of an experience as it can be. For more information about vaccinating your puppy, visit our petcare blog.
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