651-224-3038   •   1140 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

Fear Free Part 2: Dogs

January 23, 2017

We recently posted about our new Fear Free certification http://grandavevet.com/fear-free-certification-part-1/ We are so happy with how well our patients and staff are doing as these fear free protocols becomes part of our everyday interaction with our clients and patients. We have had so much positive feedback from both dog and cat owners and we have seen our patients seem more calm, relaxed and less scared during their vet visits. This has been amazing!

Today we will focus on our canine visitors and identifying some key things that can be done before and during vet visits to reduce any fear, anxiety and stress. On our end, we use pheremone diffusers in every room that are meant to create a calming environment. The staff also uses the same pheremone sprayed on our clothing. In addition to our physical exam notes, we also create an “Emotional Record” for every visit that helps us remember what works well and what doesn’t work for your dog. We try to speak in softer voices and limit the amount of times we are in and out of the exam rooms.

  1. Don’t feed your dog the day of the visit. What? Not feed my dog?! In this situation, no! Unless there is a medical reason against it, we want our dog patients to come to the clinic hungry and eager to take our treats. The more agreeable a patient is to take treats, the less he or she will focus on anything going on during the visit, be it a simple physical exam or more “stressful” things such as a blood draw or vaccinations.
  2. If your dog has a food allergy, please bring treats that we can use!
  3. We often use peanut butter. We always try to ask, but if there is a peanut allergy in your home (even in a person who is not at the vet visit), please tell us and we will make notes to not use peanut butter with your pet.
  4. Have we told you that your dog needs to lose a few pounds? The diet starts at home, not at the vet. We will use a lot of treats during a visit. Unless a pet tends to get car sick, we aren’t going to limit what they get. Again, the more we can make this a positive experience, the better this and future visits will be.
  5. On your way to the clinic, stay calm, especially if your dog tends to get anxious. Speak with a quiet, calm voice. No baby talk. Also, don’t say “it’s going to be ok” or any other phrases you might typically use to calm your pet. Unfortunately, dogs often associate these words with stressful events and your best intentions can actually make the situation worse.
  6. If your dog is very reactive to other dogs or gets progressively anxious in our waiting room or even in the exam room, please let us know. We may recommend you call us upon your arrival to see what the wait time will be. If we are not able to see you immediately, it may be best to take a walk around the block or hang out on our deck until we are ready. In some situations, we may even conduct the entire appointment outside if this makes it easier on your dog.
  7. Likewise, at the end of the appointment, it may be best to either remain in the exam room or take your dog outside or to the car until we are ready to check out. This can help alleviate further stress after the appointment is over.
  8. Remember, just coming to the vet and letting us perform a physical exam and treatments is wonderful. We do not expect dogs to do any tricks or “perform” for the treats. So again, unless there is a medical reason against it, we will freely and frequently be giving treats to your dog from the time you enter the clinic until you leave.
  9. If your dog gets too scared coming to the clinic, we may recommend medication be given prior to the appointment. There are typically little to no side effects and can make the visit go much better for your dog….and you!


As always, please call with any questions!

Dr. Heather Stadtherr, Grand Avenue Veterinary Center

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