Without doubt one of the most delightful aspects of life in a veterinary clinic is meeting our client’s new puppies when they come in for their vaccinations or a health check. In these appointments, we take the time to discuss all aspects of health care, including socialisation and basic training.
One aspect of this which is essential in order for the puppy to develop into a well-rounded dog, but which may easily be overlooked in a home routine, is to teach your puppy or new dog to accept being thoroughly handled. Not only will this make veterinary visits a more familiar experience for your pet, it will enable you to perform any necessary procedures, such as administering medications, clipping nails, trimming hair and brushing teeth with a minimum of fuss at home.
Handle and Treats
Perform these activities daily in the first year of your puppy’s life and on a regular basis as an adult. Give your puppy high-value treats such as dried liver or small pieces of meat whilst doing so, and he will soon develop a positive association with being handled. Have your puppy lay on the ground and firmly but gently stroke him from the top of the head to the tip of the tail, doing so slowly. The puppy will learn to relax and then you can gently stroke his belly, the inside of his legs and his sides. Gently spread and flex all of his toes and claws. Gently pick up and examine your pets tail. Run your hands gently over the face, picking up each ear and looking in it, and stroking and looking at each eye. Learn to file or trim the nails with the appropriate nail clipper, taking of just the tiniest amount each time, and do this frequently when the pet is young so that they learn nail trimming isn’t scary. Always take care not to cut the nails too far as this is likely to cause a lasting aversion.
Don’t Forget the Teeth
Using a pet toothpaste and soft pet toothbrush, finger brush or cloth, rub all the teeth and nearby gums. Teach your puppy or kitten to take a “pill”. Normal, healthy animals can be given a “blank” as a treat daily. The “blank” should be something that is delicious enough to be wolfed down immediately without chewing and is soft enough to be moulded around a pill, such as a small amount of peanut butter, sausage, hot dog, vegemite or cheese. When you then need to administer a real pill, you will have a way for your pet to swallow it without being suspicious.
Doing these things takes just a few minutes a day, but will make a lifetime of difference to you and your dog.