Fear-Free Vet Visits
The Wave of the Future?
Does your pet shake with fear at the veterinarian’s office? Pets who are hard to examine often find it a traumatic and stressful experience and so do their owners. This can result in missed appointments and pets not getting the medical care they need to thrive. Dr. Marty Becker, has developed a Free Fear protocol and certification program for veterinarians to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified.’” The goal is to reduce stress during the veterinary experience, “and get pets back for veterinary visits by promoting a considerate approach and gentle control techniques used in calming environments.” Dr. Becker explains, the “Utilization of Fear Free methods and protocols leads to reduction or removal of anxiety triggers, which creates an experience that is rewarding and safer for all involved, including pets, their owners, and veterinary health care teams. The end result? Calmer, more accepting patients, more compliant clients, and better veterinary care.”
FearFree is meant to be a team approach. What can you as a puppy owner do to help minimize fearfulness during vet visits? Bring your puppy for friendly drop-in visits to the vet’s office to receive attention and yummy treats from the staff. Bring a soft, non-slip pad to place on the metal exam table. Request that vitals are done in the exam room with you present, and feed your pup treats while being examined. Spend the time to handle your dog’s body parts gently while feeding treats, so they associate this handling with something pleasant. Learn about body language and be conscious of your dog’s emotional state, throughout the entire exam. Taking the time to put him at ease, can make future exams quicker and easier.
After attending several seminars on the subject, I’ve begun to teach some of the counter-conditioning and humane handling protocols in my puppy kindergarten classes. The client response is phenomenal. They proudly report back compliments from their groomers and veterinarians about how easy their dogs are to work with.
For more information about Fear Free Veterinary Visits check out these websites: