While veterinary consultations typically involve physical ailments and diseases, normal mental or psychological health is just as important in our canine companions. These things can and should be addressed by the veterinarian as soon as the client is greeted in the waiting or consultation room.
I feel this involves greeting the client and taking a brief period of time taking a history, while virtually ignoring the dog. The vet should deliberate approach the dog, while still ignoring it. This allows the dog to not feel like the focus of attention, reducing its anxiety and allowing it to remain calm. Should the dog cower behind the owner or stand up begging to be picked up, the owner should gently correct the dog and have it sit beside or just in front of him/her. Constant whining or attempts to get the owner's attention should be gently corrected. I feel that these steps are mandatory to ensure a successful and relatively pleasant visit to the veterinarian, and should be applied to every situation in which a pet is stressed or anxiety-laden when going somewhere (groomer, vet, boarding facility, etc.).
Small dogs are over-represented here not because they're "prone" to anxiety or fear, but because their owners think that this is the case. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, they are easier to correct physically (and I'm not deathly afraid of getting mauled by them), making them great candidates to work on during their visit. Like Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, I like to "train" the pet owners as well and I find them so wonderfully open to it!
I'll leave it up to professionals to deal with large, aggressive dogs, as I impart much importance to my fingers and other body parts. With these rarely-seen patients, we do the best we can.
Enjoy your next trip to the vet!
Does it get any better than this?!