This year, I celebrate 20 years of working as a Certified Veterinary Technician. During those 20 years, animal behavior has intrigued me and sent me on a new path working toward my certification as a veterinary technician specialist in the field of behavior. Veterinary medicine has progressed so much in the area of veterinary behavior. In fact, so much that now veterinary team members can become certified as Fear Free professionals.
What does Fear Free look like in the veterinary clinic? In order to understand that, we first need to look at fear in the veterinary practice or anywhere else for that matter. Fear presents itself as FAS (fear, anxiety, and stress). Pets with FAS usually exhibit those signs by fight, flight, fidget, or freeze. Fight looks like aggression, willing to bite if needed to protect themselves from a perceived threat. Flight means the pet looks to escape, the fastest route possible. Fidget shows itself as constantly scanning the room, nervously pacing, walking in circles and other fidgety behavior. Freeze is when the pet is in such fear they are paralyzed and to afraid to move.
A Fear Free veterinary clinic is a clinic that works with the pet at their pace, on their terms. Special treats, toys, non-slip pads to walk or stand, and special care with touch are taken. Natural pheromones are used to enhance the experience and music (classical) can help ease tension. Care is taken to help the pet be comfortable in the exam room and hospital wards. For pets that exhibit a high level of FAS, medications may be prescribed to give prior to the visit to help ease the stress of the veterinary experience.
We are blessed to work cohesively with the trainers of Hub City Dog Training to continue to promote this philosophy. Hub City Dog Training combines not only basic obedience training techniques, but also behavior modification. Positive reinforcement is the key to success and helping your pet feel confident. By working with the trainers of Hub City Dog Training, our collaboration together makes this training program unique. The vision is to create long lasting bonds between pet owners and their pets.
I am proud be a certified Fear Free veterinary technician and work with certified Fear Free trainers. We look forward to sharing this Fear Free journey with our pet owners, but more importantly with their pets.
Happy Fear Free Training!
Alison Patrolia, C.V.T.