Choosing a Vet For Your Fearful Dog

Our service area includes zip codes 92127, 92128, and 92129. There are many great veterinarian offices in our area, each have their own personalities and specialties. I know many of them and recommend them, very rarely would I not recommend one. But when you have a fearful pet not only are you looking at a vet’s pricing, personality, or specialty. You’re looking for the ability to tame a beast.

My Tango was rescued at 6 months old off the streets of northern San Diego County and I when I went to adopt him I was told he was aggressive…. Wish you could have seen my face when I just typed that…I still get that irritated/whatev look when I think about it. First meeting I saw what they were talking about and knew immediately he was scared and was only trying to tell people to leave him alone…especially the man walking hunched over arms wide towards him. As soon as I had him he was a loving happy baby! The lady that said he was aggressive said (as we walked out) “Ohhhh, he’s not aggressive at all!!” Well duh!!!

Tango does have a fear of veterinarian offices…a lot of dogs do. But since he’s a Rottweiler most vets are afraid of him and don’t respond well. He’s had a few major issues that require vet visits and it’s so stressful on him… and us. My husband and I (even as professionals) get just as anxious if we don’t take him to the vet that will work patiently with him…We have found only one.

In 2014 Veterinary Specialty Hospital (VSH) treated him for MMM (Masticatory muscle myositis) an inflammatory disease in dogs affecting the muscles of mastication (chewing). I told them, like I’ve told all the vets that he’s fearful and will voice his fear and urinate all over the floor. They understood, and 30minutes later the staff snapped a picture of Tango sitting on his nurses lap. He stayed there even when I told him it was time to go.

As a Mom to a fearful dog let me tell you how much anxiety I get just at the thought of taking Tango to the vet. I pack up a muzzle, treats, towels for when he pees on himself, wipes, and if I have Zanax I’d probably take one or two. Now, I’m a pet professional. I’m one of the very few pet sitters in the 92127, 92128, 92129 area code that specializes in fearful dogs…but when its your own it becomes personal. And when you see others react in a negative way to your baby the lioness emerges. This day in the picture didn’t happen the way it normally does. It was a good day. I cried on the way home out of relief.

Well back to present day. This weekend Tango started limping and couldn’t put any weight on his back leg. He has luxating patella which is a condition where the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location on both hind legs. The left one required surgery a few years ago and the right one is where he started limping. I maneuvered it to try to figure out where it was bothering him and never heard a pop (this happens when the knee cap pops back into place) I knew immediately he needed pain pills and a vet visit. That second my heart rate quickened. First mistake! Moms, Dads…our anxiety feed the fear in our fearful babies! Second mistake, I called the vet’s office that did the first surgery (because that history is there) even though they’re afraid of him and he hates them.

*I won’t name the vet office because they are great for economical care and basic veterinarian care, just not fearful Rottweilers*

I called them because they have the history on his legs, and because they are a 1/3 of the cost at VSH. I will never do this again. After the visit ended and the nurses were looking at Tango with fear and pity they asked how he did with the Doctor. I said “Better than me, I wanted to bite the Dr” They laughed, I forced a laugh. But my blood pressure was so high, my face was red, I was rushing to get Tango out of there, he was panting so hard I was worried about his heart. (possible heart murmur) We had to make the doctor do his job because he didn’t want to “deal” with my baby. When I said never mind we should have gone to VSH and was about to leave the Dr softened and worked with us.

Long story short. I chose convenience, price, and history (which could have easily been transferred) over my baby’s comfort. Even as a pet professional I get caught up in the no no’s …. that I tell my clients to not do. I thought it would be different, I truly did.

Never again.

And why does it seem the dogs that are more fearful tend to need more vet visits? Who knows. But will say look for a vet that patiently works with YOU and YOUR FEARFUL PET!! Do not settle. Do not think it will be different. Take treats the pups can eat. And most importantly YOU have to STAY CALM. —The caps are for me mostly, just so ya’ll know lol!

My husband and I decided on the way home, Veterinarian Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley will forever and always be Tango’s vet. We hope he stops limping in a few weeks with the pain pills and muscle relaxers but if not I’m actually happy and secure at the thought of going there.

If you are a parent to a fearful pet (dog or cat) you know how I feel. We can relate. You can always work with a dog behaviorist if your fur baby is in the extreme category to help rehabilitate them. Let me know if you need a referral, I know one the best one here in Southern California!

Do you have a fearful pet? Where do you take yours? What steps did you and your go to vet take to help your baby?

*If you need a dog walker or pet sitter and want the best in northern San Diego call us!!! 858-205-8132*




  1. Laura

    Great article. I never thought about picking a vet special for a fearful dog. Our late dog Reagan was fearful and she went into heart failure at the vet when they were trying to xray her. We didn’t know she had a bad heart. They took her away from us for the xray. Later they said she got nervous and started freaking out and then they had her in the back and were trying to put an oxygen mask on her and that just freaked her out worse…. She had to be put down later that day. It was awful. We’ll never know, but I wonder if we’d had a vet that was sensitive to her fearfulness if they might have handled things differently.

    On a happier note, I remember how Sandy our fearful dog ran out of the house and down the road the very morning we were leaving town and they were to be boarded with JenLovesPets (you) Not to mention she was new from a bad background and prone to attacking her sisters at that time. Plus her sister chewed her harness off that morning! And our third dog had torn ligaments in both back knees… So my husband and I were freaking out, and you waited to get them when you could take backup with you to make sure nothing went wrong. Then you sent our other two dogs ahead spent over an hour alone with our little nervous wreck until she trusted you enough to take her. Ha ha, I was texting you saying “you can give her a xanax” but you said you were singing to her. Now she loves you and we never have to worry when leaving town!

    • JenTaylor

      Hi Laura! I just found this in spam, I didn’t even though there was a spam box here. I’m sorry!
      Yes, I’m now 100% confident the vet matters when you’re dealing with a fearful dog. Even after 6 years in professional pet sitting I’m just getting it. Im so sorry about Reagan! I wish I could have helped in some way.

      I remember that first day with Sandy! And you I remember that text with a little panic behind it. And poor Sandy she was afraid but I wasn’t going to make it worse, we took our time to show her we’re alright people. She probably gave in because she was tired of me singing…poor voice can break glass. She finally trusted me enough to walk her out and pick her up. As soon as she sat on my lap in the truck we were best buds!!!

      I’m going to make sure I keep “fear” in mind when I recommend a vet for a client’s pet. Its a big difference and worth it to our fur babies and us!


  2. Ridley Fitzgerald

    It’s great to know more about choosing a good vet. My dog is afraid of pretty much everything, so this is important for us in our new town. I’ll take your advice and not choose convenience and price over what’s the best fit for our dog.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *