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In this issue: 
Reducing Stress at the Vet
Product Praise: Nina Ottosson Interactive Toys
Recommended Reads
Educational Opportunities
Reducing Stress at the Vet
Written by FFTW Member Rebecca Feiring, DVM

For many dogs a trip to the vet, whether for a routine exam or treatment for illness or injury, can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking experience.  Faced with a busy day and time constraints, it is often tempting for both veterinarian and pet owner alike to just "get on with it" and proceed with an exam when confronted with an extremely stressed pet, even if this results in the dog cowering under a bench or exhibiting fear-based aggression.  Often ignored, however, is the fact that proceeding inappropriately may intensify the dog's fear and anxiety levels at future visits, making things more difficult for everyone concerned.
Below are several tips to reduce your dog's anxiety levels at the vet and hopefully result in more productive, lower-stress visits:
1)  With your vet clinic's permission, bring your dog to the office for short "fun visits" from time to time.  Walk him or her around the premises and the lobby, get some treats from the receptionists at the front desk and, if you're able, perhaps spend some time feeding your dog treats or playing with a favorite toy in an exam room or treatment area.  This will familiarize your dog with the veterinary clinic in a lower stress setting, compared to an exam.
2)  If your dog becomes more fearful or reactive with noise, commotion or other pets around, ask the veterinary receptionists to schedule your visits for quieter times of day.  In general, weekdays tend to be less busy at most practices compared to weekends.  Asking to be escorted straight into an exam room upon arrival or, if this is not possible, to wait in your car rather than the lobby until exam time, might reduce stress levels in some dogs.
3)  Bringing your dog's favorite treats or toys to the appointment to divert his or her attention from what the vet is doing may also be helpful.
4)  Many parts of a typical exam can be easily simulated by a pet owner at home, to acclimate their dog to things he or she might experience during a veterinary visit - handling of the ears, mouth and paws, for example.  Ask your vet for guidance on what sorts of things might be helpful to practice prior to an exam.
5)  If you or your veterinarian feel that your pet might benefit from proceeding with an exam at a slower than average pace, it may be helpful to ask for an extended exam when scheduling visits. While this may cost more than a standard exam (which is twenty minutes, on average), if taking things slowly could reduce stress and anxiety for your pet, it may be well worth it.
6)  If you are already aware that your dog may exhibit aggression at the vet and need to wear a muzzle for safety reasons, it is best to purchase a basket muzzle and acclimate your dog to it ahead of time, rather than compounding your dog's fear and anxiety by introducing it for the first time during an already stressful trip to the vet.  Your veterinarian can provide you with information about purchasing a muzzle and acclimating your dog to it.
7)  Finally, if your dog exhibits severe levels of anxiety or aggression at the vet, it may be best to talk to your veterinarian about the use of anti-anxiety medications or sedatives for future visits.
Best of luck preparing for a lower stress trip to the vet - your dog will certainly thank you!

Dr. Rebecca Feiring is a veterinarian at Lakeside Animal Hospital ( in Glendale, Wisconsin and Professional Member of the Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin. You can follow the adventures of her rescued pets Zorro the cat and Sheba the dog on Instagram at @shebas_swag.

Product Praise:  Nina Ottosson Interactive Toys
Mental enrichment for any species helps prevent boredom, behavior problems, and much more! 

Many of our members love puzzle games and interactive toys for their own companion animals, and the cream of the crop picks for cats and dogs are made by Nina Ottosson. Nina's line of toys are durable, easy to clean, and come in a variety of levels to match your companion's abilities. Check out the full product offering by clicking HERE.
Recommended Reads
Written by FFTW Member, Jen Digate, owner of Wild Canine

Is it Really All or Nothing?
By Ken Ramirez

In Search of Excellence: Effective Practice
By Alexandra Kurland

Is There a Relationship Between Playfulness and Trainability
Published by Psychology Today
Upcoming Education Opportunities

Intro to K9 Nose Work® Workshop

Saturday, July 11th from 10:30am - 12:30pm
The Dog Sanctuary - 


CLICK HERE for full event details and registration.


Workshop By:
Laura Holder, CPDT-KA, ANWI
Connecting with Dogs, FFTW Business Member


Dr. Linda Harper: Finding the Power of Joy in Your Work with Animals

Sunday, September 13th from 9:00am - 1:00pm
Central Bark Wauwatosa


CLICK HERE for full event details and registration.


Event Host:
Laura Holder, CPDT-KA, ANWI
Connecting with Dogs, FFTW Business Member


Guide to Living with & Training a Fearful Dog

Presentation by Debbie Jacobs
Saturday, October 17th
Sussex, WI


CLICK HERE for additional details.


Event Host:
Holly Lewis, CPDT-KA
Cold Nose Canine, FFTW Business Member


Susan Friedman: Living and Learning with Animals
Sunday, November 8th & Monday, November 9th

Wauwatosa - Radisson Hotel

CLICK HERE for full event details!

Event Host:
Wisconsin Humane Society
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Copyright © 2015 Force Free Wisconsin, LLC
All rights reserved.

Information and advice provided in this newsletter is general in nature and should not be relied upon to solve any particular situation. For all issues with your companion animals, please seek the services of a competent and qualified professional.  The authors and publishers shall have neither liability nor responsibility for any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused by the information in this newsletter.

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