Bring up behavioral issues without offending clients.
Most owners know when their dogs are a little unruly and appreciate any advice on how to manage them, says Dr. J.C. Burcham, an associate at Olathe Animal Hospital in Olathe, Kan. "Often these dogs will have a choke or prong collar on. This provides a great opportunity to introduce the concept of behavior training," she says.
Dr. J.C. Burhcam
Team members can get the ball rolling with a simple, "I see you're using a prong collar for Max." This lets clients bring up any behavior issues—leash pulling, jumping, house soiling—they may be facing. If clients need a little more prodding, Dr. Burcham suggests following up with, "I'm not really a fan of those because they can injure a dog's neck. Have you heard of head collars?" From there, discuss how the proper training and tools could make dogs easier to control.
"You need to remind owners that every interaction with their dogs is a form of training—either they're training the dogs or the dogs are training them," Dr. Burcham says. "And you need to demonstrate how simple and beneficial basic training can be."
Set a good example by turning your back to the dog when he tries to jump up on you and praising him with a treat when he sits on his own, Dr. Burcham says. Be sure to point out what you're doing to the owner, so he or she understands why it's important to ignore undesirable behavior and reward obedience.
Once clients see they're responsible for their dogs' behaviors, you've created a chance to help. You can tell them about your practice's behavior training program or give them contact information for some local trainers your hospital recommends.