Puppy freaked at the vet today

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howsefrau32's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-27

I took my puppy Greta, who is 15 weeks old today, in to the vet for puppy shots today, and we had a bad experience.  First of all, she was freaked about walking into the vet, but that is understandable,  I figure once dogs know what that place is, they don't exactly like it.  When we had been there 10 days prior though, she was fine, but today she was just freaked.  First of all, we didn't see the same vet.  We had previously seen  a lady vet who I know well and she loves big dogs.  Today, we see the male vet and I think his approach set Greta off.  He seemed very stiff and suspicious of her from the minute he walked in the room.  He just seemed to move to quickly from that point and she snapped at him.  She didn't actually try to  use her teeth, she more or less just barked and jumped back.  I have to say, the vet had me kind of mad because I could sense his attitude about her from the moment he walked in the room, and obviously my dog could too. He was a total jerk about it, he didn't really try to talk to me afterward, and Im wondering if this will affect her every time she goes to the vet.  Obviously, I will never go back there again, but I just wonder if this is typical behaviour at this age, or if I just have a dog with serious behaviour issues.  She is a rescue from a puppy mill, and I have no idea about her breeding, though obviously it probably isn't good, and I just get worried about how will I know if she is showing problems of a dog that is going to have serious aggression issues or if it is just a vet that didn't approach her the right way, which I believe the reason she snapped at him.  She had no problem with the vet tech.  She was very standoffish with the tech, but the tech just talked to her and didn't show any fear to her and Greta warmed up to her enough to be relatively comfortable with her, whereas with the vet, she just shook the entire time. She was so scared that when she snapped and jumped back, she gave off that terrible stink that they do when they are really, really scared, it was pretty gross.  She is in puppy kindergarten every Saturday at Pet Smart, and she seems a little scared, but warms up pretty well to eveyr one there, nothing like what she showed today.  But, I have noticed that she is starting to get really wierd about people that come into our house.  She seems fine after they have been over for a few minutes and sees that we are Ok with them, but at first she is very suspicious of them.  I don't know how to tell if this is normal behaviour or the start of a problem.  Thanks for your help.

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Pet Profiles

It sounds like you're quite right about the vet's attitude, but her reaction says she's had some bad experience with people. Likely the breeders and people who took her from the breeders had a similar attitude. She might have caught a funny smell too.

It's great that you're taking her to Pet Smart kindergarten. That's one big thing a dog like her needs - socialization. The same with people coming over. Any Doberman will be suspicious, but she needs to learn to look to you for the decision, and she needs practice. If she acts aggressive to people you have over, give her a correction - "NO"! It's good for her. The thing that will make her feel most secure and able to get past her bad experiences is being kept in line. She needs to know she doesn't carry the burden of responsibility.

And the only way you will see the start of a behavioral problem is if you don't stop it when they start.

Soleil's picture
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Joined: 2008-04-04

My doberman loves going to vet. She enjoys the car ride and loves the attention she gets.  We have been going to same one since she was 8 weeks old now she is 1 1/2 and still loves it thanks to great vet techs and vets.  Shame on that vet... he should know how to act around dogs.  Any vet that would act suspicious around a 15 week old puppy would make me suspicious and angry. 

I would not worry too much that this bad experience at the vets would make her permanently dislike going to the vets.  The vets office is filled with strange smells and different people and animals all the time.  Maybe something about today triggered something in your pup.  Going back to the vets office being concerned that something will happen will set you up for something happening.  My girl never had a bad experience but when she was a little puppy sometimes she would get a bit nervous and start shaking while waiting.  I just played the Alpha role and acted calm and she would calm down.  All the vets I have ever gone to take a minute to say hello and meet the dog before getting down to business.  I think that is very important to tell her hello and of course what a pretty girl she is.  ;) Flattery works well with her.  To just start poking at her without giving her a moment to take in the this new environment and person is foolish of the vet to do, in my opinion. 

At 15 weeks she might just be having a silly puppy day where a person makes her nervous.  Continue what you are doing with her... puppy class... socialization with all types of people and dogs.  She is still young and getting used to things and trying to figure out who is in charge. If you don't like what she is doing though correct her now, and get her used to it now.  Letting a 15 week old doberman know that her behavior is not ok is a lot easier then letting a full grown dobie, not necessarily because they are difficult to correct.. I just mean you may loose volunteers to help come over to your house when your dogs acting suspicious people... getting a suspicious look from a puppy is not quite as intimidating to most as getting a suspicious look from a full grown doberman...  ;D Good Luck!

howsefrau32's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-27

Thanks for the great advice.  We are trying our best to socialize her, we are taking her lots of places with us, and nearly every weekend we go over to my brother in laws who has dogs and let them run around in the back yard together.  The problem is, his dogs are old fuddy duddy's and they don't really play with her.  We are considering getting another dog for her to play with, because the cat just isn't cooperating, she does NOT want to play with her at all.  I'm still ticked about the vets crazy attitude, acting the way he did over a 15 week old puppy.  I have been asking around, trying to find a vet who is comfortable with large breed dogs, and I have some good possibilities. 

I'm loving this forum and website, lots of good information, I think I'd be lost without it, so thanks a bunch!!!!!!!!! ;D

Rileysmama's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-13

Mason had a similar experience at the vet at 11 weeks. He had the same reaction as your pup and it concerned both me and the vet. Well, I worked my tail off taking him around to meet people. I'd hand strangers treats to make him sit and give to him. At your next appointment he was perfect. No snapping, nothing. And on top of it all he had to have a foam piece that was glued to his (infected) ear pulled off taking some hair with it and nothing, no growls, no fear, just calm. I was so proud. Just work hard socializing her. I'd call the vet and tell them you are bringing her by can they have a treat ready. Take her in, give the treat and leave. Thats it so she has a "good" experience with the crappy vet.

My vet doesn't have the friendliest bedside manner but that still doesnt give Mason the right to growl at him in my opinion. He's just a gruff guy, I like him! Also, pay attention to your energy, if your concerned about the vets attitude I think your dog will to.

Good luck!

howsefrau32's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-27

Wanted to let you know that we went to the vet today for last round of puppy shots and we had a MUCh better experience.  First, I took her to a new place, and I found out that one of the vets was a dobe owner, so I asked for her.  She was great with her, showed no fear of her at all, and that was key.  She even opened her mouth to look at her teeth, she was fine.  The tech was great with her too, showed no signs of being afraid of her and she was perfect.  I have been doing just like everyone reccomends, taking her lots of places, trying to get her around lots of people and animals.  She was around all kinds of dogs in the waiting room and she was fine, wagged her tail, except when this huge german shepherd walked in and barked at her.  We were taking her out to collect some urine, and on the way out the door this huge german shepherd barked a hello at her and she skidded accross the floor and took a header right into the glass door.  She was OK, but it was histerical and she had the whole waiting room cracking up.  She is a little clown, for sure!