Why join the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme?

Why join the vet clinics membership scheme

The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme is an exciting collaborative project between Dogs Trust (DT) and the British Veterinary Behaviour Association (BVBA) which is launching in 2022.  

The aim of the scheme is to reduce any stress brought about by the necessary provision of veterinary care, and to make the provision of veterinary care the most comfortable experience possible for everyone involved. 

The PDSA Paw Report 2019 found that most dogs (82–91%) within the UK are registered with a veterinary clinic1. Owners may visit the clinic with their dog for a range of reasons, such as routine preventative health care, treatment of illness or injuries and monitoring of chronic disease2. But despite veterinary care being an essential part of dogs’ lives, many dogs find a visit to the vet stressful. 3, 4, 5

Improving Dog Welfare

By joining the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme and pledging to reduce canine stress within the veterinary clinic, you are directly improving canine in-clinic welfare. Canine welfare is also important outside the clinic. A recently published paper from the longitudinal study, Generation Pup, documented that 31% and 35% of owners reported that their dog at ages 6 and 9 months respectively was exhibiting behaviour that they found to be a problem6.

This can lead to stress and frustration for both the owner and their dog, potential safety issues, compromised canine welfare and ultimately a lessening of the bond between the owner and their canine companion. Problem behaviours have also been shown to be risk factors for both relinquishment7 and euthanasia 8,9.

By joining the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme and utilising the veterinary resources available, you will be able to increase in-clinic behavioural knowledge and also be able to advise and support owners with behavioural issues which occur outside the clinic. Application of this knowledge within the veterinary clinic — alongside directing owners to the owner resources if appropriate — will help to improve the welfare of many of your canine patients. Alongside these huge benefits for canine welfare, there are many other benefits for both you and your practice if you join the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme, which are outlined below.   

Benefits for the veterinary clinic

Increasing the client-clinic bond.

  • Over a third of dog owners surveyed in a study in 2011 believed that their dog “hates going to the vet”.’10 This belief can lead to owners finding the thought of veterinary visits stressful10, which in turn can lead to a decrease in veterinary clinic visits. By joining the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme, you are informing your clients that your veterinary clinic understands the importance of a positive veterinary visit. This will provide reassurance to all owners and therefore increase the client-clinic bond.  

  • The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme provides easily accessible online behaviour resources designed to support owners. By directing owners to these resources, your clinic is showing care and dedication, further increasing the client-clinic bond. They currently cover topics such as:
    • Understanding their dog’s body language.
    • Preparing for their veterinary clinic visit, including travelling and what to take.
    • Behaviour tips for the veterinary clinic visit, such as helping your dog stay calm in the waiting area and consultation room, as well as helping your dog stay still for examinations and procedures.
    • How to give medication, such as ear drops, eye drops and oral medication.
    • How to health-check their dog at home so that their dog is more comfortable when being examined by the nurse or veterinary surgeon.
    • How to find training and behaviour support.
    • Teaching puppies to be comfortable at the vet.
    • What owners can do if their dog hates going to the vet.

  • Positive and engaging puppy socialisation events can create a strong client-clinic bond right from the beginning of a dog’s life, which can last for their lifetime. The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme provides veterinary clinics with detailed resources about how to run successful puppy socialisation and habituation events.

Increasing staff safety.

  • Many dogs find visiting the vet stressful 3,4,5. In some cases, this fear may escalate into aggression5, which could cause injury to the owner or to veterinary staff members. Joining the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme and utilising our resources to help your clinic make small changes to reduce stress for your patients should result in a reduced likelihood of aggression within the clinic5 and thus increase staff safety. for example, changing the setup of the waiting area to separate dog and cat waiting areas, providing food treats during the visit, tailoring the examination and treatment to the individual and making sure all team members apply considerate handling techniques when examining each patient 
  • The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme will provide your team with regular behaviour-focussed Continued Professional Development (CPD). Increasing knowledge of canine behaviour within your clinic will not only improve canine welfare but will also increase staff safety within the clinic environment. 

Increasing practice desirability.

  • Becoming a member of the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme shows that your clinic is dedicated to improving canine welfare, leading the way in reducing the stress that many dogs feel when they visit the veterinary clinic. 

  • A clinic that has joined the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme also shows that it is committed to supporting its staff’s professional development, pledging that each staff member involved with patient and client care should have a basic understanding of canine behaviour and communication, canine learning theory, physiology of canine stress and the impact of the veterinary environment on canine patients. Each staff member will be able to view behaviour CPD material provided by the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme, which will count towards the individual’s annual CPD RCVS annual requirement.

Joining a behaviour-centred veterinary community.

  • There is a growing understanding that it is important to care for the behavioural and emotional needs of animals presented to the veterinary clinic2. In 2012, the Cat Friendly Clinic Scheme was launched. This is a worldwide programme from the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) which aims to create more cat-friendly clinics and thus reduce the in-clinic stress for cats. It is of course also important to consider canine patients too and that is why DT and BVBA are launching the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme. 

Benefits for the individual member

Continuing Professional Development.

  • The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme will provide the individual member with access to a bank of relevant behaviour webinars. New webinars will be added throughout the year.

Relevant veterinary behavioural resources

  • The Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme will provide the individual member with a range of relevant veterinary behaviour resources to help with the prevention and management of behaviour cases within first opinion clinics, such as:
    • the discussions to have with owners before neutering
    • how to refer complex behaviour cases
    • how to respond to canine aggression within the veterinary clinic.

Ability to drive change and become a dog advocate within your clinic

  • Being a Dog Advocate within your Dog Friendly Clinic will enable you to be the driving force for positive experiences for all dogs visiting your practice. 

Join the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme today and become part of the behaviour-centred veterinary community.

Register your interest



  1. PDSA. Paw PDSA animal wellbeing report 2019. Available online:  https://www.pdsa.org.uk/media/7420/2019-paw-report_downloadable.pdf, [Accessed December 2021]
  2. Ryan, L., 2021. How to minimize stress for your canine patients. BSAVA Companion pp10-16
  3. Edwards, P.T., Hazel, S.J., Browne, M., Serpell, J.A., McArthur, M.L., Smith, B.P., 2019. Investigating risk factors that predict a dog’s fear during veterinary consultations. PLoS One. 2019. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0215416 
  4. Mariti, C., Pierantoni, L., Sighieri, C., Gazzano, A., 2016. Guardians’ perceptions of dog welfare and behaviours related to visiting the veterinary clinic. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Jan-Mar 2017; 20 (1): 24-33. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27712096/  
  5. Riemer, S., Heritier, C., Windschnurer, I., Pratsch, L., Arhant, C., Affenzeller, N., 2021. A review on mitigating fear and aggression in dogs and cats in a veterinary setting. Animals. 11, 158. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/1/158 
  6. Lord, M.S., Casey, R.A., Kinsman, R.H., Tasker, S., Knowles, T.G., Da Costa, R.E.P., Woodward J.L., Murray, J.K., 2020. Owner perception of problem behaviours in dogs aged 6 and 9 months. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Vol 232, Nov 2020. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159120302355   
  7. Patronek, G.J., Glickman, L.T., Beck, A.M., McCabe, G.P., Ecker, C., 2006. Risk factors for relinquishment of dogs to an animal shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 01 Aug 2006 https://europepmc.org/article/med/8755975/reload=0   
  8. Pegram, C., Gray, C., Packer, R.M.A., Richards, Y., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C., O’Neill., 2021. Proportion and risk factors for death by euthanasia in dogs in the UK Scientific report . https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-88342-0 
  9. Boyd, C., Jarvis, S., McGreevy, P.D., Heath, S., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C., O’Neill. 2018. Mortality resulting from undesirable behaviours in dogs aged under three years attending primary-care veterinary practices in England. Animal Welfare Journal, 27 pp251-262 https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/publications/mortality-resulting-from-undesirable-behaviours-in-dogs-aged-unde 
  10. Volk, J. O., Felsted, K.E., Thomas, J. G., Siren, C.W., 2011. Executive summary of the Bayer veterinary care useage study. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Vol 238, Issue 10. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/238/10/javma.238.10.1275.xml 

Join the Dog Friendly Clinic scheme

Find out more about how the scheme will benefit you, your veterinary clinic, and dog welfare, and why you should join the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme.
Dog Friendly Clinics

Join the Dog Friendly Clinic Scheme today and become part of the behaviour-centred veterinary community.

Register your interest today

Disclaimer notice: The advice given on this website [in these materials] is intended for your general information only and should not be relied upon as specific advice for any veterinary practice or clinic. Each veterinary practice or clinic will be unique in its physical environment and each dog attending the veterinary practice or clinic will have specific needs and requirements, which the veterinary practice or clinic is solely responsible for. Unless prohibited by law, Dogs Trust and the British Veterinary Behaviour Association do not accept liability to any person veterinary practice or clinic relating to the use of this information.