Category Archives: Training

How to Help a Fearful Dog at the Vet

Some dogs actually love going to the vets, where some dogs going to the vets can be a very stressful ordeal. The main thing to keep in mind whether your dog loves the vets or hates it, is to keep it positive.

The best way to help your dog associate the vet’s to a none stressful outing, is to visit the vets office as if you would the pet store. Do it frequently, do it weekly if you have to! Of course, you should ask the staff if this is OK ahead of time and perhaps agree on a specific time when the office is generally not too busy. Explain that you want your dog to view the vet office as a fun place to visit, and perhaps the receptionist could even give him a special treat each time you arrive.

If the staff isn’t too busy they can even come out from behind the reception desk and pet your dog to help them relax! The goal with each visit is for your dog to what to stay at the vet’s, when it’s time to leave they wont want to with all the treats and loving they are getting.

With Ginny, the biggest regret I have is not socializing her enough during her fearful times. I would foster a situation, plan my route for the least human interactions she would in counter. Especially with men. If we were in a store, I would avoid any sort of situation of them seeing her. Which wasn’t always the easiest with a huge English Mastiff. But had I have gotten her out and having more introductions with people her fear and her confidence would have been eased when going to the vets.

Warn the Vet Ahead of Time and Plan the Trip.

When I had to switch vet offices later on, I had to explicitly ask for a female vet. And explain to them that she could not be seen by a male vet, not for fear aggression. But because she will be in the corner peeing herself (no joke).

Once the vet got to know Ginny on the first consultation, from there on out she always greeted her in a calm manner. When it came to actually examining Gin, the vet always got down on her knees and would sit beside Ginny checking her over. Bringing treats in her pocket always helped too when Ginny was feeling extra shy.

If you have a smaller dog that has to be placed up on the table, bring a towel, or a small dog bed for them to sit on versus the scary table.

Act Like Going to the Vet is no Big Deal.

If you’re nervous, your dog will be more likely to feel nervous as well. The more your work yourself up playing the what if game in your head, the more likely your dog will start to react to that nervous energy.

Do you have any tricks you use to help your dog go to the vet?

The Top 3 Leashes for Dog Owners

Depending on what activities you like to do with your dog, you may need different leashes for each situation. Choosing the right leash can also depend on your dogs behaviour on leash. In this post, I’ll go over a couple of more popular leash options and the scenarios each leash could be used for.

The basic snap leash
Snap leashes are your typical nylon, leather,  or cotton leashes that snap onto your dog’s collar. Most snap leashes are either 4 or 6 feet in length. This type of leash is often the go-to leash for dog owners for everyday use like walks, visiting the vet, going to a pet friendly store, etc. They come in all sort’s of colours and designs, but you have to watch out on the quality and the right sizing of the snap! Make sure you are using the correct size of snap for your dog, a teacup breed will need the smallest of snaps, where a large working breed will need the largest.

Check chords
A check chord is a longer lead anywhere from 20 to 50+ feet in length. This kind of lead is helpful when you’re working on obedience training such as teaching your dog to come when called or to stay. It’s a safe way to begin transitioning to off-leash work.

With George he loves to wonder while on trails, I trust him fully off-leash but a lot of the trails we frequent have by-laws that dogs must remain on leash. This is a great alternative, it allows him to meander around and sniff trees while not being restricted to a 6′ leash. I could use a retractable yes, but I will get into that later on!

The slip lead
Slip leads are often used for training because they allow the handlers to give slight corrections. They are kind of like a martingale collar in the sense when the dog pulls, the lead tightens but loosens when the dog is walking correctly. A slip leash is great for teaching your dog good manners in more exciting or stressful scenarios such as walking in new areas or visiting the vet or groomer. The leash gives you more control than a normal snap leash and eliminates the need for a training collar.

Slip leads are great as a training tool, but should not be used as an everyday walking leash as you cannot control how tight the lead is around the dog’s neck. You don’t want to risk damaging their windpipe or trachea, worse strangling them.

Other types of leashes

The martingale leash – Similar to a slip leash but is limited in how far it will tighten. I’ve seen some trainers prefer this over a slip lead, especially if the dog is a strong puller.

Retractable leash – A great leash for casual scenarios where you want to allow your dog a bit more freedom. A retractable leash is also a nice option for transitioning to off-leash work.

I have tried using a retractable leash on my walks with George and Ginny, but still have yet to find one that gives me the same confidence and control over them as a basic snap leash. So far George’s count for breaking retractable is up to 2 and Ginny 1. Plus, when a 130lb dog wants to run after a squirrel, a small simple locking mechanism isn’t going to stop that train! Plus once the dog reaches the end of the 15′ or whatever the length is, they get all their momentum going.

Retractable leashes are great for the right situations and dog, but sometimes they’re not always safe and reliable.

Traffic lead – This is a very short leash, no more than 2′. It is gives something more than just the collar to grab onto if needed during off-leash practice. They can also be great option for dog sports, such as agility or flyball! They are short enough not to get tangled, yet you’re still able to grab and re-gain their control.

I used the traffic lead in combination with a halti while training George to walk nicely, the traffic lead and halti gave me the ability to control what he’s sticking his nose into and to greet people a little more nicely then a big dog nose in the face. George being so tall, I like to be able to control where his head is and too make sure he isn’t trying to snack on someones lunch while walking through a crowd.

Tab Leash – An even shorter version of a traffic lead, they have the same benefits as a traffic lead but being even shorter in length.

What kind of leash do you use for walking, training or dog sports?