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!
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.”
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?
- 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.
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!