I have been a groomer for almost a decade now and I have seen many examples of what NOT to do and what makes pet anxiety around grooming worse. So, I was excited to find a course of study that could help me to create the least stressful environment possible for my clients and even help already fearful pets to overcome the negative associations that they have learned. I am very impressed with the Fear Free approach. I wanted to let the Fear Free program speak for itself regarding what they have taught me. Here is an explanation in their words…
WHAT IS FEAR FREE GROOMING?
Grooming doesn’t need to be stressful for your pet. With positive training methods, compassion, and a little bit of patience, your pet can have a stress-free grooming experience for years to come!
Fear Free Certified Groomers are committed to making your pet’s “spaw” day fun and relaxing! We do not expect your pet to love every part of the groom as we know there are aspects of grooming that are not always pleasant. The goal for these procedures is to help your pet feel as calm and comfortable as possible. This is achieved through a combination of reward-based training and desensitization.
WHAT MAKES FEAR FREE GROOMING DIFFERENT?
A Fear Free approach values humanity over vanity above all else. The average pet visits the groomer every 1 to 3 months for pawdecures, baths, and/or a full haircut. That means your pet will spend a good portion of their life at the grooming salon. Some pets go years experiencing intense fear and anxiety related to grooming. Science tells us that repeated exposure to stress causes a plethora of health issues for pets and humans! With Fear Free grooming, we will not ignore your pet’s fear response in the name of getting the job done. Our groomers have been trained to always use a gentle touch, never causing pain or using intimidation. Instead, your pet will be spoiled with yummy treats and lots of love!
WHY MULTIPLE VISITS?
Our certified groomers care about your pet’s emotional wellbeing. We also value your pet’s freedom of choice. This means we may need to stop a certain procedure if your pet is displaying too much stress. Your pet’s stress level will be closely monitored and scored. If your pet is experiencing high levels of stress, the appointment will need to be broken down into multiple visits to work through these fears, rather than overwhelm your pet. Your pet may need to be desensitized to equipment slowly. If your pet has a previous negative association with equipment or a procedure (such as a nail trim or a bath, for example) this will require a more gradual breakdown to reintroduce your pet to the item or procedure to develop a positive association. In some cases, it is helpful to enlist the help of your veterinarian, as they may be able to prescribe some calming medications or supplements to be used during the grooming and training process.
This blog has been adapted from official Fear Free client educational materials.