By Thersha Bateman, Best Friends Pet Lodge
I learned the hard way to place the people I entrust my pets to under a magnifying glass before I do so. A couple of years ago, my two oldest furkids came back home from grooming traumatised. One of them seemed to have coped OK, but the other one was completely out of sorts. What I thought to have been an ordinary part of pet care, suddenly became quite a research project, and filtered through to other professional pet services. It was clear, that all were not equal.
As with any profession, we have to keep up with the latest knowledge, we continuously have to better our skills, do relevant training and find solutions to issues that might pop up. At Best Friends Pet Lodge, we only use modern science-based methods to work with our guests. What this means is we do not use intimidation, inflict pain or fear onto animals to get them to cooperate with us. It means we are always assessing them, making things easier for them, giving them choice and control over what they do, and we reward them for making good choices. We understand that their trust has to be earned and our trustworthiness has to be proven.
Stress-free handling is very important in all pet professions and that is something I generally put a lot of thought into when I first meet an animal. Not all dogs are comfortable with being handled by a stranger, and just because they do not growl or bite, does not mean that they are OK with it. Some dogs just get quiet, but they are still stressing. The more you take how they feel into consideration (being aware of their body language and reactions), the quicker you can establish a foundation of trust and you can build on that, every time the dog visits again. I personally always look forward to seeing that dog again and continuing the process of becoming friends.