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How to create a dog friendly clinic

02 July 2022
10 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 6
Figure 1. Some considerations for the journey to the veterinary practice.


For many reasons, dogs can find visiting the veterinary surgery challenging. This article discusses the need to understand dogs' feelings and observe their body language, providing examples of how the veterinary environment might impact canine emotional wellbeing. Recommendations are provided for stress reduction adaptations to improve the veterinary experience.

Approaches to handling are also discussed, including the importance of considering the dog's perspective of these. The use of low stress handling techniques are promoted, with examples provided for common clinical treatment and necessary interactions, as well as general guiding principles.

The importance of the owner within the dog's lifelong veterinary journey is also highlighted, with considerations including owner emotional state, ability to support their dog emotionally, and knowledge of their dog's normal reactions.

Preventative measures to better prepare a dog for the clinic environment, such as puppy appointments, are alluded to with references to detailed resources provided.

The veterinary world has witnessed incredible advancement over the past couple of decades. Many medical products and surgical techniques are now considered obsolete, having been superceded by rigorously tested, safer and more effective products. Similarly, there have been advancements in theories of canine behaviour, and once popular theories bettered by scientific advancement, resulting in improvements in the understanding of what it is to be a dog.

Late 20th century thinking was based predominately in dominance theory, resulting from a 1940s study of captive wolves (Schenkel, 1947). This single isolated study influenced approaches to canine behaviour for decades. Eventually, consecutive research proved dominance theory to be flawed, and its comparisons with dog behaviour unreliable (Bradshaw et al, 2009; Mech, 1999). Understanding has developed with growing appreciation of the need to care for the behavioural and emotional needs of animals presented to the veterinary clinic (Feilberg et al, 2021).

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