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Fear Free

Fear Free is a set of training procedures for veterinary experts, trainers, and pet owners to help them reduce fear, anxiety and stress in their dogs. All of our veterinarians at Four Corners Veterinary Hospital are proudly certified in Fear-Free and/or Low-Stress Handling.

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Fear-Free Certification

When veterinary professionals pursue Fear-Free Certification, they demonstrate their commitment to providing their four-legged patients with veterinary care that strives to decrease the fear, worry, and stress that frequently accompany a trip to the vet.

Our Fear-Free Certified team members have undergone extensive training on how to create a calm and welcoming environment for pets and how to recognize when an animal is feeling fearful or anxious and in need of a more gentle approach.

Low-Stress Handling Certification

Our staff members have all received Fear Free Low-Stress Handling certification have been taught to recognize the overt and subtle signs of fear and anxiety in dogs and cats.

They've also been trained how to avoid typical mistakes people make when approaching and welcoming dogs, which can result in more scared or hostile situations.

Our certified professionals have been taught to handle patients in a relaxed, non-threatening manner and how to create a calmer, safer, and more secure environment for pets.

Fear Free Certified, Concord Vet

Fear-Free & Low-Stress Handling Techniques

Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to decreasing stress, anxiety and fear in patients while offering the best medical care possible.

The small things we do to make your pet's experience at our hospital positive include offering treats, KONGS, mats and hiding spaces, allowing cats to stay in their carriers or dogs in their family's lap, pre-visit medications when needed, and modifications in our handling techniques.

Larger Fear-Free and Low-Stress Handling principles have been incorporated into the design of our animal hospital, including separate cat and dog areas.

We believe that adhering to both large and little Fear-Free and Low-Stress Handling principles makes our patient care delivery a more pleasant and enjoyable experience for both our patients and their owners.

From the moment you walk through our doors, we want you to know that you and your pet are important to us!

As part of their commitment to delivering excellent veterinary care, several of our staff members have worked hard to get certified in Fear-Free and/or Low-Stress Handling.

We think that your pet will appreciate our Fear-Free and Low-Stress approach.

How We Implement Fear Free

Many of our experts at our veterinary clinic have been educated in Fear-Free practices and philosophies; consequently, the basic concepts of this approach extend across the hospital and are placed second only to our patients' medical treatment.

At Four Corners Veterinary Hospital we blend Fear-Free practices with Low-Stress Handling techniques to help all of our patients have a relaxed, stress-free experience whenever they visit us.

We work with our patients and their owners to undertake the following steps before and during each appointment:

  • Good Communication Between Pets & People

    We start by understanding and identifying how pets communicate signs of stress to us.

    These signs can include a number of subtle and obvious signals, from a tense expression or dilated pupils to growling, hissing or a tucked tail — just to name a few.

    We also talk with the owner about the pet's recognized stressors, which might include sounds, odors, pain, illness processes, and new persons.

    Getting to know our canine and feline clients and understanding what stresses them out, and how they communicate that stress, helps us better manage it during their visits.

    We ask the family to speak up if there is something that causes fear, anxiety or stress (FAS). We can help!

  • Planning Ahead

    A stress-free veterinarian appointment begins at home. Please let us know if your pet seems anxious upon going to the vet. We can make recommendations for activities to do at home before to the visit. There may be possibilities to send vitamins or medicine home prior to the appointment to aid with road sickness or to reduce tension at the vet.

    Let us know if your pet gets stressed coming into the lobby or meeting new people or other animals. We can have you wait in the car or in our outside waiting area then come directly into the exam room. We have several entrances to help.

    Let us know if your pet does better with male or female vets.

    Cats and tiny to medium-sized dogs should become acquainted with their carriers. This may be achieved by placing the carrier in an area of the house where the pet enjoys spending time. To assist establish a comfortable environment with familiar odors, drape a towel over the top of the carrier.

    The carrier should be outfitted with toys, soft, comfortable bedding or a non-slip mat, and should have a top-off option to make it more accessible.

    You can also spray cat or dog pheromones in the carrier or, for larger dogs, onto a bandana.

    Use an authorized restraining device in the automobile when carrying a medium to big dog. The journey to the vet can be made less stressful by playing soothing music or listening to quiet and avoiding abrupt stops and starts.

    Bring your pet's favorite treats or toys to the visit.

  • Fear Free Transport For Dogs And Cats

    Ensuring your pet has a safe and comfortable ride to the vet is an important aspect of a stress-free appointment.

    Unrestrained pets can be a distraction and could cause an accident. Small dogs and cats should be secured in a carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat while medium to large dogs should be secured with a safety-tested harness and seatbelt.

    For cats, you can also spray a towel with Feliway 20 minutes before placing the cat in the carrier

    You should avoid loud music or noises as much as possible during the drive, and bring items that are familiar to them, such as a favorite toy or blanket. 

    When you arrive at the vet's office be sure to maintain a positive attitude with your pet. You can also offer them treats as a reward for calm behavior. 

  • A Calm, Quiet Environment

    At our veterinary office, we do our best to keep the atmosphere calm, quiet and positive.

    To help reduce your pet's stress in the waiting area, keep cats and dogs separate as much as possible. Cat carriers should be kept off of the floor and on a sturdy table or chair. Keep your dog leashed and close to your side to minimize interaction with other waiting pets.

    When you arrive, you and your pet will receive a warm and friendly welcome. We want you to know that you are important to us.

    As dogs and cats are often sensitive to loud noises and quick movements, during the appointment, our veterinary team will remain calm, speak in quiet voices and approach your pet in a slow, careful manner.

  • Treats & Toys

    Rewards like as food, toys, or petting/brushing can be utilized during an exam or when getting diagnostics to encourage a good experience and reduce fear, tension, and anxiety during the visit, as long as it is not contraindicated depending on why the pet is at the hospital.

    We have treats throughout the hospital, but if your cat or dog is on a special diet, we encourage you to bring their treats or food with you to the visit.

  • Sedation & Restraint Options

    Our staff is trained in Low-Stress Handling techniques and a considerate approach. We use treats, petting and toys as distractions. Families are allowed to be with their pets during procedures (excluding sedation, anesthesia, X-rays and while the hospital is closed). The staff will direct families on how they can play a part in their pet's treatment to ensure lower stress for the animal and to keep staff and family safe during the procedure.

    In some cases, we will reschedule a procedure if the pet is stressed. This allows us to send home medications before performing the procedures.

    If confinement is necessary during a procedure, our experienced personnel may use a towel wrap, a muzzle, or an Elizabethan collar to keep the patient safe and comfortable. A little sedative may be prescribed to ensure that the surgery is conducted properly and in a less stressful manner for the patient.

    If you already know that your pet experiences anxiety or stress when visiting the vet, it may be beneficial for the veterinarian to provide you with a mild sedative to give to your pet at home prior to an appointment

Fear Free Resources

Information on recognizing the spectrum of fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) in cats and dogs.

FAS Scale


FAS in Cats


FAS in Dogs


New Patients Welcome

Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for the health of your precious companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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