The Fear Free Movement Continues at Oakview Vet

Last year ten members of our staff completed the first level of certification of the Fear Free program developed by Dr. Marty Becker. The goal of the Fear Free program is to provide the best care for our patients by limiting fear, anxiety and stress as much as possible during a veterinary visit.. This year we have decided to continue onto the second level of certification. The second level of certification provides more in-depth education in the areas of patient handling, advanced handling techniques, and in-hospital care. In addition to step by step procedures, the modules feature numerous videos detailing procedures, handling techniques and client communication examples. Each member who is completing the second level certification views the module and completes a quiz at the end. We then meet monthly to discuss what we learned and how to best utilize the information in our daily practice.

LK Fear Free

Our staff feels it is important to continue learning how to recognize fear, anxiety and stress (FAS) in your pets and the best methods to minimize these as much as possible. Our goal at Oakview Veterinary Medical Center is to make your, and your pet’s, visit to our clinic as stress free and enjoyable as possible. This helps us do our jobs better by allowing us to deliver high quality care as we look after the physical and emotional well-being of our patients. We then can practice better medicine because we can get more accurate vital signs and diagnoses, thus providing the best treatment options.

When your pet is relaxed and eating delicious treats during their visit at the clinic it is easier for our veterinarians to complete a thorough physical exam. This is as important during a wellness exam as it is when your pet is sick. Because our patients can’t tell us what is wrong, or where it hurts, we must rely on our pet owner’s observations and the physical exam to tell us where to look or what tests to run. Often during a wellness visit we find new lumps or dental disease that owners were not aware of. If a pet is stressed and it is difficult to complete the exam, then we may not find these important issues.

Cat Cheese Beard
A cheese beard is a sign of a happy vet visit!

We have patients that love coming to our clinic, gladly take treats and allow a comprehensive physical exam. But we also have patients that are nervous, stressed or fearful. One way we can decrease the anxiety associated with a trip to the veterinary clinic is through “happy visits.” Happy visits are just that, a visit to the clinic that is a pleasant experience. This month we will detail what happy visits entail and give some examples of how they may help your pet feel less anxious about a veterinary clinic visit.

For more information about how we currently implement fear free at Oakview, please visit our website.

by Lisa Karnitz, DVM

Dr Lisa Karnitz - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Dr. Karnitz graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2004. She has been in practice ever since. She was also the resident veterinarian at the Globe University for two years.
Dr. Karnitz has a special interest in dentistry and internal medicine.
She shares her home with her husband, two children, and a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Harry.


The Ruff Guide to Dog Body Language

In the veterinary field, we encounter patients who cannot tell us in words what they are thinking or feeling. We must learn the different ways that they communicate in order to understand. So, we look at the whole dog and not just certain parts . Although they can give verbal cues, it’s the body language that is they key to what they are really feeling.

When we are back in the kennels of our boarding area, in an appointment, or even at
home we need to know what to look for. Some identifying factors…


When a dog has their ears up or upright they are alert and focused. This can also mean
that the dog is relaxed and just listening to what is around them. Ears that are pinned
back can mean back off! I am scared or uncomfortable. Ears are an excellent indicator of mood.

Slugger - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Slugger has his tail tucked and his ears back. He is nervous and unsure of the situation.


The message that the tail gives can send mixed signals. Most people think that
a wagging tail always means happy, but that is not always the case. It depends on the
height of the tail. If the tail is high the dog can be feeling alert, dominate, or it can
be a warning. If the tail is hanging slightly and relaxed that means that the dog is
relaxed and comfortable. Tail tucked means I am scared, nervous, submissive, or not


Verbal communication with dogs is very important. Growling is something that you should never deter your dog from doing, as this is the way they communicate a warning. Pay attention to this warning or a bite may follow! Barking can be an alert and a warning. It can also be playful. Some breeds are more prone to talking, like Huskies, and that is another way of them expressing themselves.

Whole body

Looking at the body as a whole, when a dog is feeling playful they might go into a play
bow tail wagging ears upright. When a dog is becoming aggressive the ears would be
pinned back and hair standing up on neck and back. Also bearing teeth, growling, and in
the, if pushed, biting. Submissive behavior can be shown by showing their belly. Dominate behavior is mounting, marking, and tail held high. A nervous dog shows
signs of pacing, not making direct eye contact, ears back, not taking treats anymore,
yawing, lip licking, tucking the tail, growling, and freezing.

Slugger Blooper Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Blooper and Slugger have their ears up and are attentive. (yes, there are treats coming!)

So, take some time to observe your own dog. Once you get used to the clues, communication is much easier! This is just a “ruff” guide. For more details, to go this guide.

written by Kim Craig

Kim - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Kim joined the Oakview family in 2016. She recently passed her veterinary technician certification test!

Kim was raised in Florida, but moved here in 2012. She shares a home with her fiance, a guinea pig named Gizmo, and two rescue dogs, Blooper and Slugger.

Kim enjoys softball, reading, and music.



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