Heather Skinner, DVM
Bella is a young Corgi who came to me for a behavioral consult because of her fear of the veterinary clinic and of nail trims. On her first visit she stood across the room from me and barked and growled. She took a couple of treats from my assistant before I entered the room, but once both of us were in the room she was not interested in getting close to us. I spoke with the owner for several minutes while sitting on the floor with my assistant, prescribed Victory Visits, threw a couple of treats across the room, which Bella ate, and then finished the appointment.
During Bella’s first Victory Visit, she was still apprehensive, but was willing to come and take treats from me (she loved hot dogs and chicken jerky). She allowed me to pet beneath her chin and on her shoulder while taking treats.
At the following Victory Visit, Bella was getting the idea of things. While taking treats, she allowed me to touch her entire body, tail wagging nearly the entire visit. She also allowed her owner to put her up on the table.
By the fourth visit, Bella ran to my assistant and me in the exam room and happily took treats while we petted her. Her owner lifted her onto the exam table where she continued to take treats and wag her tail. I was able to do a full exam, including stethoscope auscultation and even a mock vaccination (I left the cap on the needle but lifted her skin and pretended to give a vaccine). Bella’s owner lifted her lips for me for her oral exam. Bella did not react negatively to any part of the exam or mock vaccine.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.
Heather Skinner, DVM, is a Fear Free Certified Professional at Indian Trail Animal Hospital in Spokane, Washington.