Seeing our beloved pets in a state of fear, anxiety, and even panic experienced only at the veterinarian and or groomer can be quite unsettling, even terrifying for pets and also their owners. These visits not only take a toll on their emotional and psychological selves; experts agree that some animals are actually terrified for their lives. (1) Forced panic is considered inhumane in other contexts. The good news is that pets may be reconditioned to enjoy, or at least tolerate veterinary or groomer visits. (2)
When pets are this frightened, their medical exam may suffer. (3)
Owners seeing pets so anxious often become anxious themselves which typically spirals stress levels even further. (4)
Veterinary visits are on the decline; while there are many reasons for this – one is simply that delivering a frightened pet to the veterinary clinic is stressful to owners who feel “guilty” about forcibly stressing out their pet, and may be physically difficult. (5)
Through positive reinforced counter conditioning and desensitization training (6), Marius Geykman will work with both dogs and cats to overcome fear of veterinary and groomer visits, and to transform these terrified pets in to a willing participant. As a consequence of this training, animals who also dislike car travel or being transported in a carrier will learn to tolerate or even enjoy the experience.
The outcome of not seeing veterinarians for regular checkups there’s been a sharp increase in preventive illness. (7) Just as in people, catching disease early may mean a better outcome, less required treatment, and a monetary savings. Dogs are more likely (though not always) to at least demonstrate symptoms so family members know something is wrong; cats, however, are extremely adept at masking illness. (8) Simply put, preventive veterinary care can save lives.
Giving an animal the power of choice and reinforcing specific behaviors gives them a sense of control over any situation. (9) This power builds trust between the pet and owner as well as other handlers including veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, etc.
Marius will train the dogs and cats, as well as instructing family members to continue the process of teaching our furry (and none furry) pals to enjoy going to the veterinary/groomer visits. Another goal is to create a stress free handling and examination procedure for everyone involved, so pets feel comfortable at the vet clinics.
Training can include, but is not limited to:
- Actively getting in and out of their crate/carrier, at home and at the veterinarian
- Easing anxiety of pets nervous in cars
- Easing general anxiety at veterinary clinic/groomer, lessen signs of nervousness
- Putting on and taking off harnesses/other equipment
- Sitting patiently on a scale to measure weight
- Allowing body handling of ears, eyes, teeth, paws, etc. to assist veterinary exams, also to help owners to examine their pets at home.
- Allowing body restraint for examination and light procedures.
If your pet is scheduled to have a veterinarian visit, Marius can take your pet to their appointment and provide real time training.
Several training packages and options are available. Training can start either at home or with field trips to your local veterinarian or groomer.
1 - Overall, K, VMD, DACVB, CAAB; DVM360, “Fear factor: Is routine veterinary care contributing to lifelong patient anxiety?” part 1; September 1, 2013.
2 - Overall, K, VMD, DACVB, CAAB; DVM360; “Fear factor: Is routine veterinary care contributing to lifelong patient anxiety?,” part 2. October 1, 2013
3 - Overall, K, VMD, DACVB, CAAB; DVM360, “Fear factor: Is routine veterinary care contributing to lifelong patient anxiety?,” part 2; October 1, 2013.
4 - McConnell, P. PhD, CAAB; The Bark: Dog is My Co-Pilot, “Reducing Fear in Your Dog;” April 16, 2012.
5 - Volk, J BS; Felsted. K.E,, MS, DVM; Thomas, J PhD; Siren, C.W. BA, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; “Executive summery of Bayer veterinary care usage study;” Vol 238, No. 10, May 15, 2011 .
6 - Horwitz, DVM, DACVB; Ciribassi, DVM, DACB; Dale, S, CABC; “Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Behahviors,” (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, New York, NY), 2014; p. 322.
7 - “Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health,” 2011, 2012, 2013 Reports.
8 - Dale, S, CABC; Shojai A, CABC, Adelman B, CCBC et al “CATegorical Care: An Owner’s Guide to America’s #1 Companion,” CATylst Council, American Humane Association, 2010; p. 13.
9 - Landsberg, G, DVM, MRCVS Dip, DACVB, ECAWBM; Hunthausen, W. DVM,; Ackerman, L, DVM, DACVB, MBA, MPA, “Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat,” third edition; (Saunders/Elsevier, New York, NY), 2013; p. 107