Fear Free Pets vs. Low Stress Handling: Which Certification is Best For You?

Looking to be certified in stress-free pet handling? Read our comparison to learn which is best for you.

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It is nice to see learning programs for professionals that preach our message on the importance of pet stress. If you are a pet professional, there are two main contenders that you might want to consider, depending on your needs.

Fear Free Pets

Fear Free Pets is a well-respected program aimed at veterinary professionals and animal trainers.  For the vet and animal training programs, one must either be a studying or practicing veterinary professional. There is a course held through the Karen Pryor Academy called “Better Veterinary Visits”.   It is essentially the diet version of the veterinary and animal trainer courses.

Prerequisites: None

Cost: $139

Learning objectives:

  • How clicker training can help in veterinary care
  • How to help animals form and maintain a positive association with your vet clinic, common veterinary tools and equipment
  • To practice gentle techniques for handling, examining, picking up, and restraining animals in ways that minimize their stress
  • Step-by-step training protocols for common procedures such as nail trims and tooth brushing, as well as diagnostic procedures such as venipunctures and temperature taking
  • How to advise clients about teaching useful husbandry behaviors
  • To observe the emotional state of dogs and cats by interpreting their body language
  • To teach new behaviors to help ensure animals’ success during a variety of medical procedures
  • Quick solutions to manage behavior “on the fly,” for time-sensitive exams and procedures
  • To teach animals to tolerate ear, eye, and oral medications calmly
  • How to safely and comfortably transport and confine animals when needed, in a way that minimizes their stress
  • To identify and describe impact of key developmental periods on behavioral health
  • To guide clients toward effective training strategies
  • To help clients navigate solutions for behavior concerns
  • How to apply positive reinforcement training in your daily life

Low Stress Handling

Low Stress Handling® University is another well-respected program that has many followers.  It is similar in aim to Fear Free Pets.


Creating a Pet-Friendly Hospital, Animal Shelter, or Petcare Business


Pet Dogs, Problems Dogs, High Performance Dogs: How Science Can Take Your Training to a New Level


Skills for Handling Your Reactive or Hyperactive Dog: A Workshop for Developing Focus and Impulse Control


The Master Class Collection


Silver-Level Certification

The most popular certification is the Silver-Level Certification that can only be taken as a complete course of study.  However, much of the Silver Level can be taken in individual courses (that can’t be used to obtain Silver Level.

Silver-Level Certification

Prerequisites: None

Cost: $330

Course ModulesLectures Included in the Silver-Level Certification Program:

(All videos are broken into segments to allow for students’ time management.)

Module 1

  • Recognizing Brewing Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats (Duration: 78 minutes)
  • Discussion Questions
  • Module Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 2

  • Rapid Reversal of Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats (Duration: 75 minutes)
  • Discussion Questions
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 3

  • Low Stress Handling® and Restraint of Difficult Dogs and Cats (Duration: 75 minutes)
  • Discussion Questions
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 4

  • What Giraffes, Dogs, and Chickens Have in Common – Training Techniques that Work for all Creatures (Duration: 96 minutes)
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 5

  • Towel Wrap Techniques for Handling Cats with Skill and Ease (Duration: 80 minutes)
  • Discussion Questions
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 1.5

Module 6

  • Kitty Kindergarten: Creating the New Improved Cat Through Early Socialization (Duration: 96 minutes)
  • Discussion Questions
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 7

  • Essential Exercises for Moving Dogs from Place to Place (Duration: 98 minutes)
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2

Module 8

  • Handling and Restraining Medium-sized and Large Dogs with Skill and Ease (Duration: 69 minutes)
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 1

Module 9

  • Handling and Restraining Fearful, Aggressive or Difficult Dogs with Skill and Ease (Duration: 136 minutes)
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 2.5

Module 10

  • Desensitization and Counterconditioning: Teaching Dogs to Willingly Accept Medical Procedures (Duration: 160 minutes)
  • Quiz
  • CE Units: 3

Low stress certification compared to fear free certification

Low Stress Handling Certification

  • The Low Stress Handling Silver Certification program is a 20 CE unit RACE approved course.
  • It provides an in-depth understanding of reading the body language of dogs and cats in a veterinary or pet-care setting and how to respond to that animal to reduce stress.
  • Specific instruction in counter-conditioning, reducing stress, and reducing staff injury risks are covered in approximately half of the course content.
  • In short, this program is focused on when you must put your hands on the animal to provide care in a less stressful way.

Fear Free Certification

  • The Fear Free program starts with a 9-hour program with emphasis on:
  • The hospital environment
  • Communication between staff and with clients regarding fear, anxiety, and stress reduction
  • Specific education in anxiety-reducing medications
  • Approximately 2 – 3 hours of this course covers basic handling skills.

A note…

This FAQ overview does not mention the extended courses that Fear Free Pets offers.  I don’t view this as a criticism; just an observation that LSH is focused more on animal handling and FFP is focused more on environment.


Both organizations are well-respected in their fields.  The Fear Free Pets is somewhat limited to established professionals, but the course that is available through Karen Pryor seems to be very interesting and a good overview for people interested in the subject.  Low Stress Handling has more courses available to the general public and more flexibility in what you can focus on through the Curriculum packaged courses.  

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Julie MacTire is a writer and educator devoted to the world of dogs. She also writes a blog (shibainus.ca) about her adventures with her Shiba Inu, Tierce, and is a supporter of many pet welfare organizations.

References & Resources



Grooming, Stress-Free

Scaredy Cut is the gentle clipper designed for grooming sensitive pets.
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