Waiting areas at most veterinarian clinics are stressful places for both people and dogs. They tend to be on the small side and with little in the form of design to ensure dogs have some safe distance from other dogs. The leash, acting as a barrier, prevents dogs to engage in natural greeting behaviors. The fact that most people will allow their dog to approach other dogs while both are leashed can become the “perfect storm” for over the top dog behavior towards other dogs.
Salient also is the fact that 99% of people will allow their dog to meet another strange dog head on. This sort of approach to greet is consider a threat to dogs and very poor doggie manners. No wonder most dogs respond with a growl or a lunge when being greeted like this! It’s their way to tell the other dog to back off and give them some space. Often, the greeting dog who just got “scolded” will respond in kind. And around and around we go adding to the unpleasantness of dog greetings.
The sizes of the dogs meeting are also important to consider. While most dog bites are not too serious there can be ample repercussions from a dog bite when size between the dogs is significant. Not to mention the psychological damage an encounter like this can have on the receiving party. A true behavioral emergency when we are talking about a young dog or a puppy that has very little experience in meeting other dogs. Often only one encounter like this can set that young inexperienced dog or puppy down the road of fearful behaviors displayed now in aggression as they encounter other dogs on leash or perhaps also when not leashed.
Helping and keeping your dog safe at the veterinarian’s clinic can be easy…
As part of this blog I made a video that show a protocol that I designed for one of my clients who has a very small dog which also loves greeting every dog at her vet’s waiting area.
The protocol is very easy to do and requires very little training with big dividends in safety for your dog and the comfort of the other dogs in the waiting room.
I would add that carrying some very tasty morsels whenever the dog goes to the clinic to be an excellent idea. Delivering some tasty stuff can help your dog relax as he associates the scary environment with something he really likes. Grant you, some dogs are so afraid that their digestion system shuts down making the use of treats futile.
Either way, if you practice the protocol in the video ahead of time with your dog, you will both find it easier to be successful when you are at the vet’s clinic with a room full of strange and also stressed out dogs.