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I Wish Vet Receptionists Would Stay Calm Around My Dog

Vet techs and vet receptionists have challenging jobs.

It takes the right skills to be able to balance catering to the pet owners and catering to the actual pets.

It’s difficult because pet owners often expect professionals to swoon over their animals, and they’re even offended if they don’t.

However, all that attention is not always in the best interest of the pets.

It depends on the pet.

Unfortunately in my experience, some receptionists in veterinarians’ offices tend to treat all dogs the same.

They talk in high-pitched voices using an excited tone. They face the pet head on and bend down to their level. And they make direct eye contact, trying to pet them and hand out treats.

These are all good enough responses to a fairly chill, well-behaved dog like my black Lab mix Ace, especially if the dog is comfortable around strangers and being at the vet. Ace is a dog who can handle just about anything you throw at him. He’s one of those “bomb proof” dogs.

And then there’s Remy.

Oh, Remy …

Remy is what you might imagine if you threw a rope over a coyote and drug it into a vet’s office.

OK, maybe not that bad. Because he’s friendly. Boy is he friendly!

My hyper weimaraner Remy!

We walked into the vet’s office Monday and he’s on his hind legs doing his possessed kangaroo hop as we walk through the door. Barking with excitement. Pulls so hard he flips over on the slick floor, landing on his back.

I had him on a slip lead with no slack, so I kept him pinned to my side as we sat down.

“Shhh. Hey!” I whispered, trying to calm him.

And then a receptionist squealed. “OHHHHH!”

And I go, “Please ignore us. He’s a ‘little’ excited.”

“Oh, Remy! We want to make you love the vet!” she says.

Me: “Please don’t come over here. He already loves the vet.”

Receptionist: “OK, I’ll come pet you when you’re calm.”

At this point Remy is trying to jump and climb over me to get to the receptionist. He grabs at me, tries to bite the leash, barks.

“You don’t need to come over here,” I say again.

She then stands 10 feet from us, focusing on the coffee maker. This is her way of “ignoring” Remy.

He does quiet down, but he’s staring at her, trembling with anticipation.

She takes his non-barking as a sign that he’s “calm.”

“No. Don’t come over here,” I say.

I had to ask her a total of 4 times to leave us alone. Asking her to ignore us was not clear enough. I had to spell it out firmly, multiple times.

“Don’t come over here.”

Phew …

All that aside, the real problem is not exactly the receptionists or the vet techs. It comes down to training and socialization.

My dog is poorly behaved at the vet because he’s a hyper, overly excited, explosive young weimaraner with little impulse control.

He would’ve been a handful even if every single person had ignored him until his appointment.

Dogs are generally going to be at their worst behavior at the vet, so it’s not fair for me to judge Remy (or myself or the receptionist) based on anyone’s behavior that day.

What matters, really, is how he handles himself in general out in public and how I respond. What can we do to improve?

I think:

  • Visiting new indoor, public places more often. Working on sitting and just doing nothing. Places like Petco, Home Depot, etc. Continuing to ask people to ignore us.
  • Serious exercise. Oh boy does he have energy. We need a genuine run every single day. Leashed walks and the occasional dog park trip is not enough.
  • Training classes. Keep at’m! As we’re doing.

That’s all there is to it. Patience. Patience. More practice. More practice.

I wish vet receptionists would stay calm around my dog

And pet professionals like dog walkers, groomers, boarding workers, pet sitters and dog daycare workers, you have tough jobs. I know because I’ve worked in all of those jobs.

It’s a balancing act because all dog owners and dogs are different.

But please …

When you see a young maniac on a leash EXPLOSIVE with energy (and I mean just plain NUTS), try to tone it down a little, please? For the owner’s sake? 🙂

For the dog’s sake, too. Thank you.


Do any of you have any examples of how a pet professional affected your dog’s behavior for better or worse?

P.S. I never knew a dog could be that excited for a neutering appointment!

Related posts:

A tale of two vets – how the right vet makes all the difference


Saturday 5th of June 2021

Hi Lindsay, were you able to train Remy to be calmer at the vet? I am having this same problem, and he is only like this at the groomers and the vet and it drives me crazy.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 7th of June 2021

Hi JY, Remy is still very excited at the vet. He's calmed down only a tiny bit now that he's 5 years old but still 1,000% more excited than your average dog. I have actually started using a sedative medication to calm him before going to the vet. You can barely tell he's had anything but it does take the edge off. I also do lots of exercise with him leading up to his vet visit. I also work on handling him and rewarding with treats - touching his paws, ears, teeth, etc. We also switched vets so we have a vet who is very good (tolerant and patient) with him.


Thursday 26th of September 2019

Thank you for this post! Whenever I take my weim puppy to Petsmart there is an associate there who really enjoys him so she speaks very loudly and very high pitched to the puppy that he just can't help himself from jumping up on her and misbehaving in general. I have wanted to tell her so many times to just STOP talking to him and he will STOP jumping on you, but I just couldn't find it in me to say anything (since I knew she just was trying to be nice). But, maybe next time I will tell her since he misbehaves so badly or maybe I'll just turn around and walk away from her if she won't stop.

Marissa M.

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Our LABRAdoodle (more lab than doodle, hence the caps) is super super friendly at almost a year old. He's better now but still gets initially excited going to familiar places--- whether it be a walk around the neighborhood, the park, dog park, the vet, groomers, etc. He does jump to greet and we understand that this is partly because of his breed. We do our best to approach him calmly, to train him (impulse control) and to discipline (2-3 min time outs, ignore) but when we are out and about, well, it is challenging. we've asked people to just ignore him. As most have mentioned some folks comply, and some don't. When ignoring doesn't work, then we "manage" with treats/ball/stick/plastic bottle (he is a lab afterall) to entice him to "sit". And for the most part, he calms down. When we go to the vet, I typically will check in without him, go back to the car, and wait there. However, I'm thinking on our next vet visit, I'll warn the staff that he tends to be overly friendly and excitable. Glad to know that there are other parents of excitable and super friendly pups out there.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 18th of October 2017

I think there are a lot of overly friendly, excitable dogs so at least it's a common problem trying to manage their energy. I know it's much easier than working through problems with aggression or fear, however, so I probably shouldn't worry about it so much.

Sandy Weinstein

Thursday 26th of January 2017

a vet receptionist/tech can make or break me going to a vet. i am so grateful for the 2 places that i go to that they are absolutely wonderful. i had problems at the vet school, the techs are incompetent and the receptionists totally ignore the dogs. when my oldest was there for vestibular, i had to tell the vet tech to hold her head, so many times, that i complained to the vet several times. he just let her head flop. they did not even try to feed her. i had to go over everyday and hand feed her. i am paying over 3k and they did crap.

Jen Gabbard

Tuesday 17th of January 2017

I'm so thankful that there isn't too much excitement coming from the staff where I go. I couldn't imagine trying to keep Laika calm with 3 people talking to her in that tone while there's 3 other dogs nearby. It's hard enough as it is to for me to keep her composed.. Oh the vet sure is fun lol.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 17th of January 2017