Skip to main content
Anxious dog hiding behind couch at vet's office

Dog anxiety manifested in subtle ways

Q: When my dog, Buddy, is in the vet’s office, he yawns, even though I’m sure he’s not tired. Also, he licks his lips as though he’s hungry, but he won’t accept food treats from anyone, including me. What’s going on?

A: It sounds like he’s anxious or frightened.

Sometimes dogs make their feelings obvious by cowering, moving away or even growling when approached. Other times, they express anxiety more subtly, by yawning, licking their lips or refusing treats. They may pant, pace or walk very slowly, sometimes crouching.

Anxious dogs may hold their ears down and to the side. Others are unusually vigilant, darting looks in every direction.

You can help Buddy feel more confident at the vet’s office by taking him there for social visits, where the staff will pet him and give him treats—but not administer injections, draw blood or trim his nails.

In addition, you should enroll Buddy in group dog obedience training classes where he will interact with a variety of people and dogs while you praise him and reward him with treats. Ask people to pet him and, when he’s ready, to touch his ears and feet, so he gets accustomed to being handled by people he doesn’t know.

In time, his increased confidence will help him enjoy his veterinary visits.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

samoyed dog standing in the snow

Do you live in an area where you're...

Child and dog sitting on stairs dressed in costumes

Halloween is a time for ghoulish family...

depressed pug with head on pillow

Can dogs suffer from depression? Could...

Small dog chewing on a red toy bone in front of Christmas tree

Recreating the perfect Christmas scene...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
man working on laptop in coffee shop with a dog in his lap

September 29th is #NationalCoffeeDay, and we...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Dog and child dressed for Halloween up on bed

Halloween brings cooler weather, carved...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Woman with dog looking at tablet

Since 2017 Americans have spent between $17...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...