You have a vision for a new program for your practice, and it's going to be great. It's going to strengthen the bond between clients and pets, maximize patients' well-being, and help your practice and your team grow. The only hitch: You need your doctors and team members to think it's a great idea, too.
Laura Cornett, RVT, shows the weight-based age chart her team uses to educate clients during wellness exams.
Of course, it's up to your doctors to determine whether these programs fit your practice's mission. The teams who launched these programs agree that the doctors must get on board first, and the team needs to plan and train thoroughly before introducing a program to clients.
To jump start the planning process and help build buy-in, set aside time during a team training session or staff meeting to discuss your ideas and uncover any obstacles. Those who've helped launch new programs will tell you team members must accept the new idea if you want it to be successful. They must support the program and those who lead it by participating with their own pets and delivering a consistent message about the program's importance to clients.
These practices invested the time and money to teach all of their team members how to educate clients and make consistent recommendations. Consider their advice to launch a successful program in your practice.
Blast off with a behavior program
Preventing canine behavior problems before they begin is the goal of the behavior training program at Nassau Veterinary Clinic in Nassau, N.Y. Sixteen years ago, the practice was losing its share of patients to shelters because of behavioral problems. So practice manager Florence Sanford, CVPM, hired Marlene Wagner, a veterinary assistant and Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT), to start a positive, reward-based training course to bond clients and pets from puppyhood and preserve their relationship with the practice. Wagner and her team of trainers, which includes two clients with experience in agility and rally obedience training and classes, plan and teach the courses one night a week.
An alternative to traditional obedience training, the initial course, "Basic Life Skills, or More Manners Please," taught pets to be good household citizens in a fun, gentle, and instructive way. Today, the single class has expanded into a series, which kicks off with free monthly puppy parties, followed by puppy kindergarten, adolescent finishing school, a beginners' agility or rally obedience course, and an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen course. Each five- to eight-week course, which costs $95 to $125, uses the skills developed in the preceding training courses.
Nassau Veterinary Clinic also offers a secondhand dogs course for adopted dogs and their owners. And the practice's responsible pet owners program entitles clients who have completed at least one training course to a discount on their pet's ovariohysterectomy or neuter. In June, the team launched a new program called "Tails on Trails" that provides clients and their pets the opportunity to practice what they've learned in two or more previous training courses in a public setting, such as a shopping center or park.