Fear Free Practice Certification

As soon as Fear Free certification became available, all of our doctors became certified. In the last year, we have embraced Fear Free in every aspect of our practice and have not only seen our client base increase, but our repeat customers, overall satisfaction rate, and maybe most importantly, our staff satisfaction rate are all higher than they were a year ago. If anyone asked me what one thing they could do right now to improve their practice, it would absolutely be starting down the road towards Fear Free Practice Certification.

Natalie Marks, DVM

Taking Fear Free to the next level – Fear Free Practice Certification

The Fear Free Certification Program provides professionals with the tools, protocols and knowledge to reduce fear, anxiety and stress in patients, and to implement Fear Free into their practices. Practice Certification takes Fear Free to the next level – from an individual to a joint effort that requires the entire practice team to work together to achieve certification. Fear Free Certified Practices will represent the pinnacle of care in the industry and will be highly sought after by pet owners who are realizing the importance of emotional wellness for their pets. Clear differentiators in the market, Fear Free certified practices will be able to market themselves in their community to attract not only pet owners, but also veterinary talent.

Certification is only the beginning of the Fear Free journey for a practice. Once certified, practices will have unlimited access to Fear Free CE for their entire staff, as well as the opportunity to receive guidance and advice from Fear Free’s 200+ advisory group members, including boarded experts in such fields as behavior, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and dentistry as well as icons such as Dr. Stephen Ettinger. Fear Free is always focused on continued learning, and we strongly believe that certified practices need to be given that opportunity to prosper and grow.

Fear Free certified practices will have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business: culture and leadership, to client education, staff training, facility, and patient visits. To meet this level of commitment and implementation, practices must measure up to Fear Free standards. Mandatory standards are pass/fail for overall certification; optional standards are weighted, and the practice must achieve a minimum score to pass each section. To view the list of standards, Fear Free members can log into their account and click here.

Once a practice is confident about passing all or a sufficient number of standards, an in-person visit will be scheduled. The in-person visit will be conducted by a Fear Free consultant, and results will be submitted to Fear Free for review and final determination of pass or fail.

Two levels of practice certification are being offered:

 Fear Free Practice Certification

 Fear Free Premier Practice Certification

The standards to qualify and pass practice certification will be the same for both levels.

To apply and qualify for Practice Certification, the following pre-requisites need to be achieved:

  • 25% or more of staff that has patient and/or client interaction (aka veterinarians, veterinary nurses, receptionists) to be Fear Free certified at the time of application and at the time of certification. Those 25% are broken down as follows:
    • 100% of on-site managers and leadership
    • 50% + 1 of all FTE veterinarians
    • 25% of technicians/nurses and support staff

To apply and qualify for Premier Practice Certification, the following pre-requisites need to be achieved:

  • 100% of all FTE veterinarians to be Fear Free certified at the time of application and at the time of certification
  • 75% or more of all other staff that has patient and/or client interaction (aka. veterinary nurses, customer service representatives, practice managers) to be Fear Free Certified at the time of application and at the time of certification
  • One or more team members have completed:
    • The Karen Pryor Better Veterinary Visits Course, OR
    • The Puppy Start Right Course, OR
    • The education and exams necessary to be a certified/licensed veterinary technician (Behavior)
  • The practice has met the following requirements:
    • One or more team members have completed the Fear Free Animal Trainer Course, OR
    • The practice has a pre-existing relationship with a local trainer that is certified/accredited by a reputable training organization and is committed to positive training methods. Local trainer information is on file with the practice and proof of training methods used exist (website, pledge, training certification, client notes)

Practice certification will provide hospitals with unlimited access to:

  • The certification courses (Level 1 and Level 2, and any other certification courses that will be published going forward)
  • Any complimentary CE offered by Fear Free, such as Module 8 and the Podcast series
  • The educational library
  • The Toolbox
  • The Preferred Product Program
  • The closed Facebook group

Other benefits:

  • Practices will be listed in the online directory, both on the veterinary professional and the pet owner landing pages
  • Practices will have permission to market themselves as a Fear Free Certified Practice which includes the use of our logos on their building, entrance, and any marketing collateral

Premier Practice Certification benefits:

In addition to the benefits outlined above, the following additional benefits will be available for hospitals achieving Premier Practice Certification:

  • Exclusive CE offerings such as webinars with top industry experts, including Dr. Steve Ettinger
  • Additional discounts on preferred product program items
  • Exclusive events at conferences, such as private tracks and receptions
  • Special logo for recognition
  • Special starter welcome kit
  • Listed first in online directory

Overview of Standards

Standards are divided into various categories. Some categories include mandatory as well as optional standards; while others include only optional or only mandatory standards.


  • Physical & Emotional
  • Client Education
  • Medical Records
  • Facility
  • Community Education
  • Culture, training, leadership
  • Patient Observation

Download the Standards

To view and download the Fear Free Practice Certification Standards document, you must have an active Fear Free membership and be logged in. Once you are logged in, the document will be available for download on this page. If you would like to view the document and you are not currently a member, please email wags@fearfreepets.com to request a copy.


To adequately reflect the benefits outlined above for hospitals of different sizes, the following pricing structure is being introduced:

1-15 FTE Veterinarians

Base Price: $500

Plus $200 per FTE veterinarian

16+ FTE Veterinarians

Flat Rate: $3,500

Includes base rate

Fees are due annually; proof of % of staff certified plus number of FTE veterinarians on staff are required at time of renewal.

Costs include the on-site visit of a Fear Free consultant. An on-site visit will be required at the time of initial certification, and every three years thereafter.


My practice wants to become certified, but we have not yet signed up any team members for certification. Can we go straight into the practice certification process?

You cannot. In order to apply and be considered for practice certification, a minimum of 25% of your staff needs to have completed the Fear Free certification program and be an active member.

My practice is ready to go! But our membership is not up for renewal until late 2018. Can we apply for practice certification early?

Yes, you certainly can! Practices that are ready to apply for certification will be able to do so starting April 1, 2018. You do not need to wait for your existing membership to expire in order to move forward with practice certification.

How long will it take between applying for practice certification and the on-site visit?

The duration of the process will depend on how much work your practice needs to put forward in order to pass practice certification standards. When a practice signs up, the group leader will have access to the standards in his/her account and will be able to self-assess their performance on each standard. Only once a practice feels comfortable with all standards, will the on-site visit be scheduled.

On-site visits will be performed within 60 days of scheduling.

Is there an annual renewal fee for practice certification?

Yes, there is. The annual renewal fee will depend on the number of FTE veterinarians employed at the time of renewal.

My team is up for renewal in 2018 – will practice certification replace our individual renewal?

Yes, practice certification will replace your individual renewal. If you are up for renewal prior to April 2018, or prior to being ready to apply for practice certification, you will need to renew your team at $99/person. If your practice certifies within the 12 months of your individual membership, we will pro-rate your renewal fee and deduct it from the practice certification fee.