Ready to quell the begging, barking, and all-around annoying behavior pets—and their people—exhibit at your practice? Consider
this advice from pet behavior expert Wayne Hunthausen, DVM, and people behavior experts, Craig Woloshyn, DVM, and Michelle
Guercio, CVT, CVPM.
Bear begs and beguiles, using his soft puppy dog eyes to bend weak wills into offering up the tasty treats his heart desires.
Ms. Ntitled, Bear's owner, uses the same sneaky strategy to weasel discounts that leave your practice pinching pennies and
scraping for loose change.
For Ms. Ntitled, remember practices that give discounts attract people who ask for them—and vice versa. And if you set fair
and firm prices, discounting jeopardizes your immediate and future financial needs. So create a new discount policy: No discounts
for anyone. Not for multiple pets, dancing iguanas, or singing Chihuahuas. Then train team members to differentiate your practice
to clients and explain how your fees allow you to care for Bear and serve Ms. Ntitled better.
Barkley barks when he wants to go potty, eat, play—you name it. He's learned that's how he can get the attention of his owner,
Mr. Howles. And Mr. Howles barks at team members when he thinks he hasn't received the attention he deserves.
Giving in to Barkley's barking will encourage this bad behavior. And barking back won't do any good, either—not for Barkley
or Mr. Howles.
For Barkley, remind Mr. Howles to ignore the barking and encourage calmer behavior with exercise and toys.
A similar strategy will work to handle Mr. Howles. Ignore his little yips and take control of the conversation to create a
If Mr. Howles is disgruntled, separate him from other clients. Sincerely listen to his opinion, then respond, "We're sorry
you feel that way." Then tell him how you'll handle the situation.
Fido uses the leg of your exam room chair as a toothpick while his owner, Ms. O'Blivious, chews the fat. She gnaws on every
fact and recommendation you offer, countering with seeds of wisdom she's gathered from questionable Internet sources and spitting
out the advice you give that doesn't suit her.
When Fido's mouth is out of line, remind Ms. O'Blivious to forget correction and focus on interrupting the bad behavior, redirecting
his attention to his own possessions, and rewarding positive behavior.
For Ms. Oblivious, listen to her concerns and let her know you've heard and understand them. Then explain how the team will
proceed to solve the issue. Assert yourself as an authority by demonstrating your knowledge with well-thought out and articulated
replies using strong, accurate words.
To help Ms. Oblivious and other Internet-savvy clients find accurate information about pets and bond them to your practice,
make your practice Web site clients' primary resource by including educational materials and links to reputable sources.