As I am leading handling labs in Low Stress Handling, I have come to realize the tremendous impact hands on learning has to actually feeling confident using Low Stress handling techniques. This type of learning is also called tactile learning - because you literally feel the process of what you are learning. When I think about providing health care to animals, it is primarily based on touch. One must touch an animal to lead them to an exam area, to listen to their heart,examine their skin, look in their mouth and more. For many of us, touching the fur, feathers or scales of an animal is very calming to ourselves. This is part of what attracts us to veterinary practice, shelter care or training. Through Low Stress Handling, we can now be more aware of how we provide a calming effect through our touch to any animal. The knowledge of an animal's body language, past and new memory, physical and emotional health lay the foundation for delivering low stress care. The next step is actually handling the animal using this knowledge.
That is where the handling labs come in - the opportunity to actually try out the knowledge you have gained from seminars, webinars and certification programs. As I am leading these labs to various groups, I am realizing some important elements to have in place for a good learning experience. This list is based on my experience training faculty who are certified in Low Stress Handling, staff at a large shelter who while not certified have been using the skills, and general veterinary staff who are starting to learn to use these techniques. While this is a diverse range of students, there are some common needs in learning to feel confident to use these skills:
Technique check Am I doing this right?
Stuffed animals - fun support from peers.
Special situations - Not every practice, shelter or animal care setting is the same. Often we discuss ways to organize space, or manage an animal holding area to decrease stress. With each presentation, I have found more and more ways to help animal care providers create a less stressful handling situation based on the behavior knowledge that is the foundation of Low Stress Handling. It is when the students are sharing ideas and stories that solutions are thought of and tried out. Staying in contact with these students to hear how the ideas work out is what continues development of more Low Stress Handling techniques.
I will be leading a handling lab at the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Convention in Lombard Il November 3. The lab is full, but I am working on dates for handling labs in 2018. Below I have a survey I would like for you to fill out. There is an opportunity for me to develop a place to have handling labs in an actual practice setting. We would have lectures, and practice animals in exam rooms, treatment areas and run areas just like a practice. The point of a space like this would be to learn in a space that is close to where you actually have to do these skills - in a practice.
Sally J Foote DVM CABC-IAABC