dog-stress-in-practice dog-stress-in-practice
  • 26 August 2016

Do we become complacent about dog stress in practice?

As part of our daily work, we need to do things to dogs that they don't always want us to. Maybe sometimes we forget that they don't understand, they are afraid, they panic, and when they try to communicate with us, we may miss the signs, and carry on anyway.

That's when we end up with a dog that won't keep still, that is struggling, panting, crying out, and eventually even that is 'aggressive'. There are always warning signs. Dogs communicate their fear to us, but maybe we can't all read the signs. Dogs that have a bad experience will be 'worse' next time. And even worse the time after that. Their owners hate bringing them because it's stressful for them too.

We have a duty as veterinary professionals to treat animals in the way that will offer them the best welfare, but sometimes we might forget about the 'handling and restraint' aspects of this. The word 'restraint' should be food for thought in itself.

Should we be thinking more about dog behaviour, reading signs of stress, making moves to make things easier and less threatening for these dogs in the first place? Well of course. Do we also need to 'get the job done'? Well yes, and that's sometimes the argument for just jumping in and 'getting on with it'. But the news is - you can have it both ways, with a result that's more positive for the patient, the client (and client relationships) the practice, and you. And long term too.

Our tutor Linda Ryan worked as an oncology nurse for many years, and developed ways of handling animals that were kinder, more empathic, and got better results (for the patient and the handler). She then went on to become a Karen Prior Academy trainer, and is now a faculty member.

Her course 'Low Stress Handling in Dogs' will guide you through some basic behaviour stuff - how dogs communicate, signs of stress - and move onto techniques that will help dogs cope FAR better with the practice environment. As for all ONCORE courses, you will go away with a clear 'take home' - a useful document created by you from your learning on the course, and applicable to YOUR clinic.

You can sign up for more info here: 

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