Reducing Pet Fear

AHNA Staff Learns Even More Fear-Free Techniques from Jenny White, CPDT-KA

Earlier this month, we celebrated the great work our staff does with each pet to reduce any fear they may have of veterinary care and to reduce any stress that medical care may create. Even with all the fear-free, low-stress techniques that we have already learned, all of us at AHNA want to do better, so our staff was treated to a continuing education presentation by Jenny White CPDT-KA of Dog-Ed.

Jenny provided us with tips on how to increase the effectiveness of treats when used as a positive motivator during visits to a veterinary hospital. She also discussed techniques of how to offer food treats and alternatives to food treats for pets who are not interested in treats. Most pets love getting treats so it helps just to give treats during a visit, but giving the treat at just the right time (even down to the second) can make a huge difference in changing the pet’s opinion of what is being done. Treats can be effective to help introduce a new experience, change a pet's feeling of a situation they are unsure of or to help make a previously scary experience less scary. We love it when we hear, “Wow, she didn’t get upset like she used to!”

Some pets are not interested in treats but are very interested in toys. If your pet is one of these, please bring their favorite toy or toys each time you come in. In fact, for every pet, please feel free to bring any comfort item along whether it is a blanket, toy or treat. Unfortunately, some pets get so fearful when they come in that they refuse to eat treats. A good way to help these pets is to bring their favorite treats from home and start giving them in the car and parking lot. Just bringing familiar treats from home can make a difference. Of course, if you have a dog with special dietary needs, please bring treats that they can tolerate. The role of treats or toys during a veterinary visit is crucial to reducing fear and stress, so realize that the extra effort and extra calories on the day of a veterinary visit is in the best interest of your pet.

We are very grateful to Jenny for the excellent presentation she gave during our lunch and learn. Jenny White is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA is a very important credential when looking for help with behavior problems). She is the owner of her own business, Dog-Ed, and a member of a wonderful local non-profit, Pet Behavior Aid, that works to prevent and/or treat behavior problems in order to reduce the number of pets being rehomed.

Every month here at AHNA, you have an opportunity to learn, free of charge, from Jenny White. If you would like to attend a Free Help Session presented by Jenny White, join us (no registration needed) at 7:00 PM on the 4th Tuesday of the month in our Education Room. Each month’s presentation is on a different behavior topic to help your canine family member. Jenny also offers Saturday training classes at AHNA (registration and fees apply to these training sessions with your dog). Dogs love Jenny and her classes!

If you are interested learning about upcoming free help sessions at AHNA, please visit our Facebook page.

Or visit under “Resources” is the upcoming the Help Sessions and Training Class Schedule.

If you are interested in learning more about Jenny White, CPDT-KA of Dog-Ed and the training classes she offers please visit

If you are interested in help through Pet Behavior aid, please visit

This video is a great example of how offering well timed treats can help change a negative association to a positive experience. Dr. Sophia Yin was in the forefront in using positive reinforcement in the veterinary setting.