Chicago Pet Sitters’ Staff Trainer Kyle recently completed the Fear Free certification, which is intended to prevent and alleviate fear in pets through proper and positive handling techniques. While this program was designed with veterinarians in mind, the course aligns with our positive-training philosophy and has since been implemented into our staff training.
As animal lovers, the question “what is the best way to interact with dogs and cats?” is an important one. By exploring Fear Free ideas, we elevate our understanding to that answer. You may have already heard of Fear Free Practices with certified Veterinary clinics or Dog Trainers that you have worked with. Fear Free provides education on preventing and alleviating fear, anxiety, and stress in pets, as well as their enrichment and emotional well-being.
When I first started working at Chicago Pet Sitters, I wanted to give the best experiences possible in any situation for the dogs and cats I spent time with. In the first couple months on the job, I read dog behavior and training books and then went on to cat behavior and training books. This helped prepare me to interact and communicate with dogs and cats effectively as well as understanding the messages that their behavior and body language were showing me.
The same drive and dedication to always provide the best experiences to our cat and dog clients is what inspired us as a company to implement Fear Free practices in our work. This can range from greeting a new dog with non-threatening body language and a treat, to saying goodbye to a pet with separation anxiety in a relaxed way along with a distraction as we are leaving.
Here are few interesting bits of knowledge I learned from the Fear Free certification program:
- Gentle Touch can be used to calm a stressed or anxious pet with slow and steady contact.
- When trying to reward a behavior, think about what the pet truly loves! Praise can be good as well as their favorite treats/snacks or playing their favorite game.
- Sounds can be stressors but they can also be a way to soothe a pet. You can use white noise or relaxing music as background noise or even your voice! A calm higher pitched tone for dogs and a calm lower pitched tone for cats.
As I am sure many of us are looking towards the end of the pandemic, we as a company are also thinking about how our pets might be impacted as things change. Many dogs and cats have become accustomed to our new routines and enjoy the extra time with their owners. This could lead to separation anxiety and/or isolation distress as that time together begins to return to what it was pre-pandemic.
If you’re heading back to the office after working from home over the past year, the schedule change may be a difficult adjustment for your pup. Help prepare him or her by first leaving for a short time, then longer stretches of time — this way you are slowly acclimating him or her to your absence. Allowing your pup to meet and walk with a dog walker in your presence is also a great way to begin the adjustment phase of going back to the office. Please review our dog walking service options or fill out our online application to see if we are a good fit for you!