We’ve all met undersocialized or mistreated pets who are fearful, skittish, and uncomfortable in new environments. Unfortunately, inadequate and inappropriate handling can diminish a pet’s quality of life and restrict their access to necessary grooming services and veterinary care that are essential for their health and comfort. Low-stress handling techniques help your pet create positive associations with people, places, and activities that are essential to their care and wellbeing. Our Animal Medical Hospital of Naples team shares low-stress pet handling methods you can use at home to keep your pet calm and help them enjoy a stress-free life.

Benefits of low-stress handling and stress-reduction methods for pets 

By practicing low-stress techniques when handling your pet at home, you enhance their wellbeing and quality of life. Low-stress handling and stress-reduction methods’ benefits include:

  • Reducing anxiety — Low-stress handling minimizes your pet’s fear and anxiety, especially in potentially frightening situations such as veterinary visits or grooming sessions. 
  • Strengthening the human-animal bond — Using gentle, calm handling and stress-reduction methods builds trust by increasing your pet’s sense of security. Increased trust strengthens the bond you share with your pet.
  • Improving behavior — Pets that feel secure and who have been handled gently are more likely to respond positively to training and everyday interactions. This can lead to better behavior at home and in public settings.
  • Facilitating veterinary care — When pets are accustomed to low-stress handling, they are more cooperative during grooming appointments and veterinary examinations. This not only makes the process smoother for the professionals but also less stressful for your pet.
  • Supporting socialization — Low-stress handling techniques help in socializing pets, making them more comfortable around other animals and people. Well-socialized pets are typically relaxed and less prone to reactivity or fear-based behaviors.
  • Preventing injuries — Stress and fear can cause pets to react unpredictably, potentially injuring themself or another pet or person. Low-stress techniques reduce injuries’ likelihood.
  • Improving pet-owner communication — Low-stress handling often involves being able to read your pet’s body language and responding to their cues, leading to a better understanding of their needs and preferences.
  • Improving quality of life — Overall, low-stress handling and stress-reduction methods contribute positively to your pet’s quality of life. Calm pets are generally relaxed, confident, and engaged with others and their surroundings. 

How to create calm for your pet at home 

Your home is your haven and that of your pet’s. Like you, your pet can experience stress, which is why you should create a calm and safe home environment for them, providing a place where they can decompress and feel secure. The following low-stress handling methods and calming strategies can help you create a relaxing and calm home for your pet: 

  • Slow and gentle approach — Animals are sensitive to our energy, so approach your pet in a calm, nonthreatening manner. If your pet appears uncomfortable or walks away, respect their decision to forgo the interaction.
  • Positive reinforcement — Help your pet acclimate to touch by regularly handling their ears, mouth, and feet, and by providing continuous praise and high-value treats to reward their calm behavior. 
  • Body language cuesYour pet can’t communicate their boundaries in words, but you can read their body language to guide your interactions. When handling your pet, watch for discomfort signs, such as looking away, yawning, or panting. If your pet seems uncomfortable, give them some space, and wait for them to come to you when they are ready. 
  • Consistent routine  Pets thrive on routine. Try to keep a consistent schedule for feeding, walks, playtime, and rest. This predictability can greatly reduce your pet’s stress and anxiety.
  • Safe space — Create a dedicated home area to which your pet can retreat and feel secure. This could be a cozy bed in a quiet corner, a crate with soft bedding for your dog, or a cat tree or perch for your whiskered pal.
  • Calming aids — Calming aids can be effective in reducing your pet’s stress in various situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or parties. Common calming aids include:
    • Pheromones — Pheromones are chemical messages pets share that promote security and comfort. Calming pheromones are added to many sprays and diffusers and can help relieve your pet’s stress. Mist your pet’s bedding or a bandana with the spray, or treat an entire room with a diffuser. 
    • Calming vests — A calming vest, such as a ThunderShirt, is similar to a weighted blanket that many people enjoy. These garments apply constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body, helping them feel secure and reducing their anxiety.
    • Medication and supplements — Anti-anxiety medication or supplements may benefit extremely anxious pets. Your veterinarian can prescribe the right medication and dose for your pet. 

Our team cares deeply about the experience that you and your pet have while at our facility, and our gentle veterinarians use low-stress handling techniques to ensure your pet feels calm and secure while being examined or treated. For high-quality and compassionate veterinary care, schedule your pet’s next appointment with our Animal Medical Hospital of Naples team.