Archive | January 1, 2012

Calming the Fearful Pet

Hi, I am Sara, the head Veterinary Technician with Community Veterinary Clinic.  I conduct dog training classes and also do behavior consultations for dogs and cats.  Our goal at Community Veterinary Clinic is to exceed your customer service expectation.  Because of stress, that can be more difficult for our canine and feline patients.  Our staff and doctors are mindful of efforts to make each visit a happy one.  We offer treats so your pet will associate us with good things.  We speak softly, move slowly, and avoid stressors so your pet can be as comfortable as possible.

There are some things that you can do to help your pet feel more comfortable coming to our hospital.  Please understand that dogs are born with the instinct to look at their world judging “what is and isn’t safe.”  You can learn to recognize when your dog is afraid of something.  Fear, anxiety and stress will make your dog crouch down and move backwards.  Sometimes only the head will go down or turn sideways and the eyes will avert downward.  You may even see the whites of your dog’s eyes.  These are all signs your dog is feeling fearful.  By evaluating your pet’s stress level, you can help him through difficult situations.

What Can I Do?

Set up a good, positive reinforcement relationship with your pet by obedience training or teaching a trick, then rewarding him with a tasty treat.  You are creating a situation where your pet is looking to your for instruction and reinforcement and starting to view you as “safe.”  This is the key to calming fears.  If you, the owner, are not considered “safe” to your pet, then he will try to keep himself safe by what we call climbing the ladder of fear and/or aggression.

If your dog is afraid of something, a car ride or our office, fear escalates.  Work with him doing a trick or obedience training and positively reward him with really tasty treats.  You are turning a fearful situation into a positive one.

Bring some really tasty treats with you to the office and give to your dog.  He will associate a visit with wonderful treats, less stress, less anxiety, and a happy experience.

Brining your cat in a cozy carrier will greatly reduce stress levels during the car ride.

Is there something I shouldn’t do?

Never drag your pet towards the scary thing.

Never punish a fearful pet.


Any questions?   Let us know in the comments section!