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Low Stress Handling, Fear Free Grooming? What does this mean?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018

As many of my clients know, I recently achieved both my Low Stress Handling silver certification and my Fear Free Grooming Professional certification.

As I have clients bring it up at appointments, or other groomers message me about these certifications I thought it would be useful to make a post on what these certifications are, and what they mean.

What is fear free? Taken from the website

"Founded in 2016, Fear Free provides online and in-person education to veterinary professionals, the pet professional community, and pet owners. Our courses are developed and written by the most respected veterinary and pet experts in the world, including boarded veterinary behaviorists, boarded veterinary anesthesiologists, pain experts, boarded veterinary internists, veterinary technicians (behavior), experts in shelter medicine, animal training, grooming, boarding, and more."

What is Low Stress Handling?

Taken from

"For the Companion Animal Owners:

This logo signifies that the people you are dealing with have spent a lot of time learning Dr. Sophia Yin’s methods for reducing stress in animals. They know how to hold a leash, how to offer treats and counter-condition animals to willingly accept medical treatment, and the perfect way to do a medical wrap. What does that mean to you? Simple: a more pleasant experience at the vet’s and a happier pet. It also means that they can use methods that can reduce the need for sedation first, reducing risk and pet health costs. It means you can trust that person to treat your pet like you’d want them to be treated. With skill, professionalism, and care. Whether you see this on a certificate or a nametag, it says good things about how your pet will be treated and that gives you peace of mind."

Both of these courses have been developed to better teach pet professionals to recognise and reduce fear and anxiety in our practices with a goal of helping pets (and their owners) to trust the care their pet will be given. These courses have been designed with veterinary medicine in mind, but are able to be fully translated into the grooming salon with ease. These certifications have a goal of teaching better communication between the animals and the people handling them, reducing stress, injuries, fear, anxiety, and behavior problems related to our professions by simply listening to the pets better, altering our handling methods, and making our environments more pet friendly. Why should a groomer take courses like this? Don't they just cut dog hair?

Many people may think that groomers just cut hair, but in reality we deal with sentient beings that feel fear, pain, stress and anxiety, and they learn from every interaction we present to them! If we as don't acknowledge that every interaction the pet in our care is exposed to teaches the pet how to react, who to trust, and how to behave, then we truly aren't doing our jobs as pet professionals and can cause harm to the pets in our care. If as professionals we push pets passed comfort to just "get the job done" and we ignore what the animal is trying to communicate with us, what are we teaching that pet about us and the environment they're in? Will they be calmer next time, or struggle more after a bad experience? It's very important for all pet professionals to understand how to properly communicate with animals, to understand that with every interaction we teach the animal about the environment and how to act, to prevent aggression and future behavior problems and to also fix problems that we may have unknowingly created with past handling mistakes.

Working with knowledge of science based dog training and behavior modification techniques, we can provide safer, calmer services, and reduce injuries to pets and the people working with them. Working with this knowledge we can alter the environments we work in to provide a safer, calmer experience because we understand that every sight, smell, and sound has a positive or negative impact on your pet and impacts their perceived experience in the grooming salon.

By taking these courses I want to show to my clients that I have an ethical commitment to the dogs and cats in my care. I want to prevent fear, anxiety, and stress, and I want my clients to have a good experience in the salon every visit. Not only do I promise to provide the best haircut I can to your pet, But I promise to work with your pet and not against them at all times. -Pet Styling By Shona

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