Treat Your Next Client Like a Dog!


Experts offer a host of great dog training tips, but what if you applied those tips to your clients? Before you know it, you just might have them begging — for more appointments, that is!

Although we can't exactly show love to our clients by rubbing their bellies or letting them sleep on the bed, we can and should make them feel valued, heard and important. Here are several ways you can treat your clients “like dogs” and keep them loyal to your practice.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Until we start issuing driver's licenses and credit cards to pets, we will need our clients to bring their pets into the practice. Without clients, we don’t have patients. And without patients, well… you get the idea. So, don't bite the hand that feeds you. Just as every patient’s medical care is important, so is the happiness of every client.

“Good boy.”

Get your clients’ tails wagging by praising the things they are doing correctly. Let them know they are doing a great job brushing their pet’s teeth, keeping up with a special diet, following discharge instructions, achieving weight loss milestones or keeping up with preventive care recommendations. Sincere praise goes a long way and lets them know they are on the right track with their pet.


  • The Importance of Client Communication
  • Balancing Between Client Services, Patient Care and Teaching

Throw them a bone.

When clients choose your practice, throw them a bone. Reward them for trusting you with their pet’s care. Did your mechanic ever wash your car for free, in addition to the requested services you paid for? Similarly, a free nail trim with any surgery, a (low-calorie) treat after an annual exam and other small gestures will make your clients feel important and cared for.

Hear the barking.

If a client’s or a pet’s needs are not met, pay attention to the barking. Listen to an upset client. Investigate the situation. Regardless of whether you agree with the client, make him or her feel heard and explain how you are going to help resolve the problem. If you build a strong bond with your clients, they will trust in you the way your dog does after you answer his concerned bark for the delivery person at the door.

Teach an old dogs new tricks.

It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. Some avoidable illnesses are due to lack of client education. Educating your clients will make them feel like they are a valuable part of the treatment process. In-house information, handouts, videos and other online resources can help owners become more educated and better pet parents.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Don’t harbor hard feelings toward a client with whom you may have had issues in the past. Everyone has a bad day, including you. The stress caused by a sick pet can push someone over the edge. Let sleeping dogs lie, and treat each visit like a clean slate.

Stay in the yard.

If you make these extra efforts, clients will stay in your backyard. If you meet all their needs and treat their pets as if they were your own, your clients will have no reason to roam to another veterinary hospital.

Leave it!

Sometimes, a firm “leave it” is warranted. Your practice is not the best fit for every pet owner. If all reasonable options to meet a client’s needs have been exhausted and the client still seems unhappy, it may be time to find a new couch.

AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.

Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at and

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