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.

Fear Free is focused on continued learning, and we believe that Certified Practices need to be given that opportunity to succeed and grow. Once a practice achieves certification, every team member is awarded a Fear Free Practice Certification Membership. This membership provides access to all the benefits associated with the individual Fear Free membership in addition to all of our certification courses, webinars, and other RACE-approved courses offered to members. As a Fear Free Certified® Practice, your team members will also have opportunities to receive guidance from Fear Free’s 200+ advisory group members, including boarded experts in various fields, such as behavior, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and dentistry, as well as icons like Dr. Stephen Ettinger.

Fear Free Certified® Practices will have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business: culture and leadership, 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.

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.

Note: At this point, Practice Certification is available only in the US and Canada. Fear Free is considering introducing this program in other countries at a later point. We encourage our international professionals to seek individual certification and keeping their certification status active by renewing and continuing to take advantage of our ongoing CE offerings.

Note: Only Group Leaders have access to the Practice Certification process.

Step 1: Apply

After logging in to your account, access the Practice Certification Application by navigating to Veterinary Professionals > About > Practice Certification. Verify your pre-populated information and download the .csv file. Enter your entire employee roster into the .csv file, noting the instructions at the top left. When completed, upload the file, acknowledge the Terms & Conditions, and submit. Your application will be reviewed by Fear Free within 2 business days and you will be notified via email of its acceptance or if any changes are needed.

Step 2: Register

When your application is accepted, you will receive an email with a link to register for Practice Certification. When you register, you will pay the $500 deposit that will be applied to your total Practice Certification cost. Registering gives you access to the online self-assessment via the Practice Certification Dashboard.

Practices will have a 90-day grace period between the time of registration and the submission of the online self-assessment (Step 3) in that, if during those 90 days any of the 25% of certified staff’s membership(s) required to be eligible for Practice Certification expire, it will not affect the eligibility for Practice Certification. Additionally, if any of the aforementioned 25% staff have left the practice, they do not need to be replaced by another certified and active team member.

If a practice submits a self-assessment more than 90 days after registering and any of the aforementioned 25% of certified staff’s membership(s) have expired, the membership(s) must be renewed. Additionally, if any of the aforementioned 25% staff have left the practice, they must be replaced by another certified and active team member.

Step 3: Online Self-Assessment

The Dashboard houses the standards and supporting examples for practice certification. When you have completed your self-assessment, as indicated by your progress bars turning green, submit it for review.

Step 4: Review of Self-Assessment

Fear Free will review your self-assessment within 3 business days. You will be notified if any clarifications need to be made via email and a call with the Practice Certification Manager will be scheduled. Self-assessments must be approved by Fear Free before an onsite visit can be scheduled.

Step 5: Onsite Visit

On the first Friday after your self-assessment has been approved, you will receive email notification with at least 3 days to choose from to schedule your onsite visit. You have until the following Tuesday to select a date. You will receive a call from your Practice Certification Veterinarian (PCV) within 7 business days following your selection. The visit should take 2-4 hours.

Your PCV will need someone to accompany him/her throughout the visit, observe at least 2 patient visits, review at least 3 patient medical records, and may take photos to help support scoring of your standards.  After your onsite visit, you will be notified within 3 business days if you can now call yourself a Fear Free Certified® Practice!

To be eligible for Practice Certification, the following requirements must be met: 

A minimum of 25% of staff must be Fear Free Certified and  have an active membership.

The 25% must include:

  • 100% of onsite managers and leadership
    • e.g. Owner, Practice Manager, Supervisor, ‘Head’, ‘Lead’, etc.
  • 50% +1 of all FTE veterinarians
    • Round up non-whole numbers (see FAQ below for details)

All team members of a Fear Free Certified® Practice are awarded a Fear Free Practice Certification Membership, which includes:

  • Certification courses
  • Any complimentary CE offered by Fear Free, such as Module 8 and the podcast series
  • Educational Library
  • Toolbox
  • Online Store
  • Preferred Product Program
  • A closed Facebook group

Other benefits:

  • Monthly webinars on topics such as marketing, communication, implementation, and subject matter expertise as it relates to Fear Free
  • Practices will be listed in their own online directory, both on the veterinary professional and 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

Annual renewal is required in order to keep a practice’s certification status active. Renewal will include:

  • Payment of the annual renewal fee. The fee will depend on the practice’s number of FTE veterinarians at the time of renewal.
  • Number of certified professionals at practice. 75% or more of staff that has patient and/or client interaction (veterinarians, veterinary nurses, receptionists, etc.) to be Fear Free Certified® and to have an active membership at the time of renewal. Those 75% are broken down as follows:
    • 100% of all veterinarians
    • 100% of onsite management and leadership
    • Remainder to be veterinary nurses, customer service representatives, support staff

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.

Due to renew?

If your Practice Certification is about to expire, it’s time to renew! Click below and follow the instructions to renew now.


 Inside Practice Certification

Open to the public

Learn more about practice certification, how to interpret specific standards, and best practices on achieving this coveted certification from our resident expert, Dr. Rachel Abrams.

Watch now!

Making the Most of Your Practice Certification

Certified Practice Members Only 

Take advantage of this exclusive benefit and get access to leading Fear Free experts, learn how to maximize your Fear Free experience, and get your questions answered.

Watch now!


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.

For practice certification, it says that “50%+1” FTE veterinarians need to be certified and have an active membership. We have 5 FTE vets, so how many do we need, 3 or 4?

To keep calculations consistent, Fear Free will round up any non-whole numbers.  For a practice with 5 FTE veterinarians it would be: 5/2= 2.5 +1= 3.5, round up to 4.

For practice certification, it says that “at least 25%” needs to be certified and have an active membership. We have 15 team members so how many is 25%, 3 or 4?

To keep calculations consistent, Fear Free will round up any non-whole numbers. For a practice with 15 team members, it would be: 15/4= 3.75, therefore rounded up to 4.   For a practice with a large leadership team (e.g. multiple owners, multiple managers, multiple heads of departments etc.)  you could end up with more than 25% total people needing to be certified to be eligible for practice certification.