Creating a Fear Free Space in Our Animal Hospital
A veterinary visit is too often a stressful experience for both pet and owner. You want them to receive the care they need, but their fear and anxiety can make you question if it’s really worth it. We want to change that outlook.
Hanging Rock Animal Hospital is the first Fear Free Certified practice in Southwestern VA and is trained to create a stress-free environment where both you and your pet can feel at ease. Veterinary care is crucial to your pet’s well-being, and we don’t want the fear of a visit to stop them from getting the care they need.
The Fear Free Approach
Pets don’t often like to be handled by strangers, placed on an examination table or given vaccinations that sting. A fear-free approach is meant to allow pets to get comfortable in the clinic setting and begin to trust the veterinary staff handling them. To help establish this trust, our trained staff use a variety of techniques including:
- Avoiding eye contact - Dogs especially can see direct eye contact as a challenge or a threat. Therefore, we avoid it and instead, address you first. We’ll ask you questions about your pet’s health and any concerns you have, giving your pet time to realize we are not a threat.
- Taking our time with felines - Cats are well-known for being shy. When you bring your cat into our exam room, we’ll give them the time they need to get comfortable and come out of their carrier on their own time.
- Food motivation - We recommend bringing your pet to us a little hungry. Using food to motivate them to cooperate or to simply distract them is a great tool that keeps them happy and allows us to do our work.
- Getting down to their level - Some pets really don’t like being on an exam table, so if needed, we’ll examine them where they’re comfortable, whether it is on the floor or in our lap!
- Low restraint handling - No pet likes to be held down, and we don't ever want to do it! Our staff uses low-restraint handling (often paired with food motivation) to keep pets from struggling out of fear.
Invest in Fear Free Methods
We recognize that fear often starts at home or on your way to the clinic. Both cats and smaller dogs may have anxiety about their carriers, while larger dogs may not like their car harness or the ride in general. Luckily, fear-free methods are also applicable at home! You can use techniques yourself to keep your pet calm and collected for the journey over. Ask us more about your pet’s anxiety, and we’ll be happy to help. You can also visit the Fear Free website for more information.