January 02, 2018

Fear Free: Success Story

Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, shares how using Fear Free techniques helped a very fearful and aggressive dog at her clinic.


Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, shares how using Fear Free techniques helped a very fearful and aggressive dog at her clinic.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“At Cherry Hill Animal Hospital, we work with a lot of delicate souls. We are known locally for taking patients that have been fired from other local clinics. Behavior cases that are very aggressive, very, very fearful, very difficult for owners to manage at home by themselves, whether it’s a senior person with a very large and rambunctious German Shepherd, whether it’s a fearful 2-pound Chihuahua—we see them all.

A really, really big success story for me is this Australian Shepherd mix named Baya. She was adopted after she was pulled from a down south rescue. This dog just made very hard eye contact, you couldn’t look at her without her getting threatened. The exams were very minimal. We weren’t able to auscultate her. We weren’t able to take her temperature. We weren’t able to palpate her belly. She was a squeeze her tight, hold her down, get her rabies vaccine in type of case. And then we started implementing the Fear Free techniques, and it was a little strange because you’re going from what you knew to something that’s different. But we actually were able to schedule social visits, which, as a technician, being able to have your own appointments is really cool. So, I would sit with Baya in the lobby, give her treats, and play with her favorite Star Wars Chewbacca toy during low appointment times. It was being able to not just have to come into the clinic and have that awful experience and her remembering it—because dogs do not forget—but being able to build on that and make new positive experiences. With Baya, even though it was unconventional, her owner was dedicated, she cared about her dog, she wanted the best for her dog, she didn’t want to see her dog being squeezed and held down just for a vaccine. That’s not how you get retention with your client, that’s not how you get a good return on investment. It’s not good medicine. 

With Baya, what we ended up doing was that after 8 social visits, so the client paying for me to pelt treats at her dog in the lobby and make that good experience, we were able to eventually touch her, we were able to for the first time in her life get a blood draw, get a negative heartworm test, and now she’s happily on prevention because we have that information from those Fear Free appointments and now that client has turned into an A+ client.”

Sign up to receive the latest news in veterinary medicine.

Latest Issue

Client Education

American Veterinarian
 
×